Integration is a central movement in Integral Yoga. On an individual level, it is the movement we take to make our being whole. This wholeness or oneness is essential to our physical, emotional and mental health and well-being. The human being is a complex entity, comprising many conflicting desires, wills and indeed parts of his nature and through this process he can become a complete whole. The aim of this workshop was to find a true understanding of this movement of integration and to find ways of realising this process within ourselves.
Over 50 people registered for this event and the guidance, wisdom and clarity of Dr. Alok Pandey aligned with the profound and practical depth-work of James Anderson proved again to be a potent and compelling combination in finding answers in everyday dilemmas that arise in our day-to-day spiritual life and individual evolution.
What is meant by the word, ‘integrate’, Dr. Alok Pandey questioned at the beginning of his session, Understanding Integration? Its usual meaning, he said, is to make something, which is not myself, one with myself. Ordinarily, this implies we are trying to absorb and finish the other, almost by indoctrination. This is done by taking away the free-will of an individual. We think that we are a surface agglomeration of habits, patterns of behaviour, thoughts, feelings, wishes and desires. But this is just the surface personality, a temporary structure created by the ego. We try to balance all this and believe it integration. But this is not so. The meaning of integration is the harmonious synthesis of all the different strands of our nature, so that each element does not lose its individuality. For this, we have to integrate the divergent activities, the various needs that continue to exist within us, then to integrate with the world around and eventually integrate with the Divine. This brings lasting happiness and health. Whatever is not integrated will only become a source of conflict inside us.
Of these three integrations, Dr. Alok Pandey stated, the most important is the one made within. The world is but a reflection of our self. The Upanishads say that the whole universe lies within us. If we are not integrated within ourselves, invariably we will be in conflict with the world. To integrate ourselves, we have to find the true centre of our being: the psychic being, soul within. Everything must be the result of a conscious choice. It is through choices that we evolve. When we keep the highest thought around us,all nature’s members fall into place. We have to choose between the transient and eternal.
What we term as ourselves is just a construct so it is imperative to embark on this journey of self-discovery. Knowledge is even in a grain of sand: eternity in a grain of sand (William Blake) . The yoga follows this thought that everybody and everything has God within. Once we believe this, everything will change. Everything in this creation is an act of love. Everything is connected. Integration is to pick up everything and make it part of a vast synthesis. One needs to go within and discover the faith and will to be; all else is just the crust; this is what we have to bring out in life and with it glow and irradiate through all the corners of our life.
To open the second day, in The Levels of Integration, Dr. Alok Pandey defined integration as where everything is uplifted so that it finds the ultimate harmonious Truth in which all can become one. It is Grace when we wake up and question, why am I here; who am I; what am I doing? This is then that the real journey starts. We must know who we are and that is where the integration starts. The Divine is within me ad the Divine within me and the Universal Self are one. In integration, we need that focus through which the Divine consciousness spreads itself into creation. That link, the nodal point is the psychic being. It is through this point that Divine gives us this indication, where to go. We cannot integrate when we are narrow; the process requires vastness. I must be the master of the house; the locus of control must be within me. -I must set this house in order where each thing can find its place.I ntegration has to be around the great truth, that the individual self and universal self are one.
There are two ways in which people try to integrate.
- The Asuric way: – rajas guna gravitating towards tamas. It integrates by monopolising, crushing and dominating. This is the devourer. It eat s into one’s very own consciousness.
- The Devic way – rajas guna gravitating towards sattva. Here, integration is transpersonal, enacted around dharma, which is the highest ideal under which we integrate. We should discover the highest, widest and most catholic idea, in which all diverse elements can be integrated, such as the Isha Upanishad: (1) the Divine is in all beings; (2) the one self is found in all beings.
The problem is, we are tied to the surface; we have preferences. We cannot integrate as our life is led by an outer locus of control. We are tied to the surface; we have preferences and cannot integrate as our life is led by an outer locus of control. The mind, heart, impulses, desires, etc. cannot lead us to integration. We need to focus entirely on the inner goal. The practice of concentration should be such that nothing disturbs us. When we can break the shell of our ego, the steam of love, rasa, amrit comes out. This is what God wants.
First, we find the Divine & then we find the self in everyone; then we can integrate in each atom of existence. Then we integrate ourselves with the people of the world. The people you are living with are the most difficult. Wherever we go we can find the arms of our Beloved and life begins to change beautifully; we start integrating with human beings, although we know it is not easy. We ourselves have worked on our issues. The more we rise in consciousness, the less we condemn. True tolerance comes from generosity. This idea of low and high, all this is washed away. Sri Aurobindo says, in everything there is God.
In such a way, the universal truths behind integration were laid bare by Sr. Alok Pandey to the participants. The implications of this work are immense and we do that by expanding our consciousness and uniting it. In vastness lies integration. The way had been prepared for the final day, by and James Anderson, who shared ways of incorporating the process of integration into everyday life in the third session, Practising Integration.
James opened his session by requesting everyone to integrate themselves for 5 minutes or so in the manner they normally use. Later in the session, he got feedback from participants on the manner they used:
Attendee 1: “When I meditate, I use my consciousness, from my 3rd eye, down my spine, into my heart and centre my consciousness there and then I get a feeling of connection.”
- Speaker: In this yoga, the physical has to be worked upon and transformed, so that is very good.
- Attendee 2: “When I go inside, I see that I have a lot of doors & stairs inside of me but I am not able to reach my goal. After 2-3 doors, I feel I am not able to reach, I just stand there. It feels very far and it’s very dark. What is this that I see?
- Speaker: In this Yoga, you have to proceed through the heart centre, through the channel of love, love of the Mother, with love in your heart. That will be very productive.
- Attendee 3: “When I enter the heart centre, I place my intent with the Mother and then I enter a verticality that connects me to the region above my head and I always visualise Mother there, with her love and force and I feel a peace descending that permeates my body, so lot of whitening.”
- Speaker: I think, we have an ‘unfair’ advantage because we always call upon the Mother, to relate to the Divine. It makes the practice much easier.
- Attendee 4: “It changes, sometimes its light, sometimes dark, it’s like going through a tunnel, where you see a light. A small / bigger hole, I see a boulder on the way that needs to be passed over. There is always a constant light. Even though there seems to be darkness between what I call myself and that light, but there is no fear because of the sense of feeling of being protected, even through that, as just a journey.”
- Speaker: That is beautiful. It’s not a visualisation, it is a very real and very beautiful experience for you.
James started by saying that the concept of practice has always fascinated him. More than meditation, for him it is ‘the art of being conscious’ and we can be conscious in everything we do in life. It is ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’. To practice we have to learn to withdraw from the surface consciousness and align ourselves within, to the core of our being. We have to observe ourselves and transcent the Witness-poise of mere awareness by infusing contact with the psychic influence. Then we can self-integrate. For that, we need to remain in very awake. “Nothing is impossible for one who is attentive”. WE aim to be always in a state of attentive observation. We are constantly receiving signals from inside so we must try to ‘catch’ them as soon as they come to the surface. We put the light of our consciousness on this signal and in thi way we turn wrong movements to right. We can’t really afford to have our consciousness alternate between ‘on’ and ‘off’
However, many of our movements originate from very deep within. They are buried and not noticeable. So we can work through the channel of our body to dissolve these covert negative patterns:
Process to integrate yourself through the Psychic Presence and descending Force, through the power of harmony: close your eyes & call for the Divine presence, in the heart centre. Establish this presence, station it and from that poise, everything else proceeds. Keep the psychic presence intact always. And look firstly above your head and see what is there. Observe, do not judge. Then, work down the top of head and see what is there. Place your consciousness on that spot & let it do its work. Then work down the body, place your consciousness on any part, that is resisting, that is painful, etc. Simultaneously there is a descending force that we must integrate within. It’s going from above the head through your body. Whenever it meets resistance, hold your gaze upon that spot. Let it do its work. You can inquire into it, silently, why any disruption is there. Keep going down watching the consciousness, releasing the knots and points of pain and resistance, things are becoming clearer, refined, transparent & harmonious. Take it down through the stomach, no judgements, just enquire, keep going down, the hip, sex centre, legs, knees, calves, ankles, feet; see a continuous flow, flowing in a serene, beautiful way. We have to be very patient and take our time. You see a light coming down through you, a force coming down through you, what do you feel? Is there a shower of peace, integrating your being? This dynamic peace, we are working in the body, through the body & in the subtle physical as well. The dynamic peace is the final sanction of this process. When the Force is flowing uninterruptedly through you, invading, integrating every part of your being, when the psychic presence is fully established throughout your being, look ‘around’ your body. From your gross body, do you feel something denser around your body, a haze, a stream, 2-3 inches around your body? This is your subtle shield. This is what gives you, immunity against disease and your best safeguard through life. We can expand, nurture and be conscious of it, always. Be with this presence around your body. Your body is a beacon of light, surrounded by glowing protective haze of beauty. Just be present, for another couple of minutes, fully experiencing your inner senses. What is going on inside and around you. When you open your eyes, I want you to keep this presence, the beauty inside of you and not let it dissipate with the contact with the outer environment.
“Thank you for the sessions and the workshop was great.”
What did you enjoy most in the workshop?
“To listen to Dr. Alok Pandey ji.”
“The experiential exercise led by James.”
“Contents and satsang.”
“I liked the talks and the elements of practice.”
“The regular references in the three sessions to The Mother and Sri Aurobindo's writings and how these are very applicable in our day-to-day lives . The workshop culminated very well and powerfully with the practice of keeping and holding ones' poise, again with a reference to the Mother’s writings ,which for me is a very big part of having done all the workshops so far by NAMAH: Remember and Offer.”
Did the sessions increase your understanding of Integral Yoga?
“Yes it did. The talks by Alok-da came at a perfect time and reminder for me as through the months of Covid lockdowns I seem to have had a deep and beautiful period and felt more connected to the Mother. An opportunity and regularity without too many distractions. With things heading towards ‘normal work routine’, all be it a new normal, and being thrown out into external regular life and its challenges , I realise how these past months have been only a preparation for what I have now to apply by Integrating all my different parts... to concentrate rather than be distracted by the senses.....importantly to remember to ‘integrate with the Mother’ and try and be conscious of what She would like to express. The practice in the last session was a wonderful guidance to help in the stepping back and quietening down or just to connect within.”