We take a delicious bite. Yum! Then another. What a great lunch! Fifteen minutes later we're finished.
The process of assimilating all those tasty nutrients has just begun. The whole procedure will take between 1 and 3 days. Somewhat miraculously, this happens with hardly a thought from us.
But we're likely to put a kink in the flow should we decide to take a long run or attend a taxing meeting directly after our scrumptious repast. We need a bit of calm for those digestive juices to really do their thing.
So instead of getting right back on the hamster wheel, we opt for some camaraderie with our colleague. Our conversation spurs new thoughts about the essay we are writing, and now both our creative and digestive juices are flowing.
(Out of the blue, a friend calls and tells us she is in the emergency room. This is what actually happened at this very point in writing this essay. Every thought about integration immediately—and ironically—dissipated into the ether as we spent the afternoon in the ER. It would take several days before we could resurrect and reconnect with our ideas again. Such are the very real life challenges to integration!)
Just as we need a respite to digest our food properly, we need a lull in the action to integrate our thoughts and experiences. When we rush from one thing to another, stressing as we go, we diminish our ability to weave our new understandings into the fabric of who we are, what we think, and what we do. Without these incorporating intervals, we are living an undigested life as it were.
How does this show up? We may feel scattered, ungrounded, and have an increasingly difficult time focusing and being present. We are slower to learn, adapt, and pick up on what is going on around us. We may feel tired, overwhelmed, or even depressed. Sound like anyone you know?
Of course it's a big help if we are getting our eight hours of sleep a night (which you are doing, right?) A lot of integration happens then. Yet when we are experiencing significant shifts in our lives, or simply dealing with A LOT, chances are that some of this integration will need to happen during our waking hours as well. What does that look like? It varies from person to person, but it usually involves some combination of the following:
We humans are remarkable in our ability to be nourished by the world around us, physically, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, energetically. To be truly fulfilled in these ways we need to give ourselves the time to digest what life has to offer on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. By not taking this time we are depleting ourselves of essential nutrition and nurturing. With this time, we can replenish ourselves and realize our healthiest selves. After all, what could be more delicious than that!
Make a list of the qualities of time that allow you to integrate the events of the day. What happens if you don't get this time on a regular basis?
Try expanding your ideal integration time by 30 minutes a day, and/or a half day on the weekend. What do you notice?
Wishing you all the time you need.
Beth and Eric
This monthly slow essay is from Beth Meredith & Eric Storm of Create The Good Life.
Please pass this along to other interested people. Your feedback is much appreciated.
If you find our work useful or inspiring, consider making a gift via PayPal.