I remember hearing these two words together in a yoga class taught by Brooke. She was having us focus on our breath, inhaling expansion and exhaling integration. Since then, I have been pondering what these two words mean to me. They are very T’ai Chi in essence, but then again, you probably know I believe that life is T’ai Chi.
We are always expanding aren’t we? Physically we are not the same size we were when we were born. Mentally we know more than we did 10-, 5-, even a year ago. [Giving us all the benefit of doubt :-] I feel I know more about myself today than I did at the beginning of 2019. The biggest thing for me has been choosing not force things to happen in my life. Whether it’s a lunch date with a friend, a design idea for a client, or thinking I need to be at a certain place in my career because of my age. Doing my best to let go of my OWN resistance, which is a constant practice and some days are better than others. My life is feeling more fluid and soft … expanding and integrating.
Our spiritual expansion also is continuous, think about it, do you believe in the same things today that you did in the past? I do not, period. In my 20’s, I used to believe that I had to be positive all the time, not letting in any negativity in my life with speech or thoughts. I was constantly reading PMA [positive mental attitude] books. When negativity arose, I would simply ignore it. I am sure the question in your mind now, comes from the famous Dr. Phil, “How did that work for ya?,” Short answer … it didn’t.
Not feeling negativity consciously—actually suppresses it our system—then at some point, a dear person in your life is going to be the one you verbally vomit on for no good reason. Sound familiar? What I have learned through experience is emotions are meant to be felt [all of them], and when I feel my emotions it then gives way to releasing them. Again, expansion and integrating. As I expand into my “now” feeling, it allows me to integrate it into my Being and then the feeling flows out. Inhale expansion, exhale integration.
Once we expand mentally, we cannot go back and unlearn something. What I mean by that is that once you learn something about yourself, you can no longer ignore it or pretend you don’t know because you know differently now. It reminds me of that famous quote by Maya Angelou, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
Now expansion doesn’t have to be some big thing, it could as simple as adding carrots into your eating regimen, reading more watching less TV, being kind to yourself when you look in the mirror [who am I kidding, that one is a little bigger ;-] …well you get the idea.
After all this expansion in our lives, then how do we integrate it into our daily living? The simple answer is one breath at a time. Inhaling expansion and exhaling integration. The online dictionary gives the definition of integrate as:
1. to bring together or incorporate (parts) into a whole
2. to unite or combine
Wouldn’t you agree that in order to integrate anything into your life, whether it be a feeling, different foods, a relationship, forming a new habit you need to expand and lean into it first. After you expand your perspective then you can begin to integrate into your Being, your Soul.
There’s a Tai Chi/Qigong movement, I have been sharing lately with students. Having our hands move from expanding and then connection. Integrating and connecting our energy to unite the expanded Self. I hope you enjoy it, feel free to reach out to me with any questions you may have by leaving your comments below, I am here for you.