My First Taste of an Integral Life

My first inkling of an integral life came upon me when I was sitting at the bedside of my dying mother in the spring of 1993. Alzheimer’s and a severe stroke had taken their toll upon her and she could no longer see, speak, or move her body, except for small motions of her hands, head, and feet. As I sat by her side with various members of my family for several days, I had a profound mystical experience. All my years of studying many different spiritual traditions, mysteriously and automatically coalesced into a multi-tradition integrative practice of prayer, meditation, and presence that appeared to assist my mother and my whole family through the dying and grieving process, while also transforming my own heart and mind.
After this profoundly sorrowful and grace-filled experience, I began to see how each spiritual tradition I had studied had its own unique gifts and perspectives, which when put together created a more complete picture of my self, the world, and the Divine. This gave me my first real glimpse of what it means to live an Integral Life; a life that strives to engage in a wondrous evolutionary journey of ever-expanding and integrating fields of awareness, revealing higher, deeper and more expansive visions of self, others, and the world.

Judaic Cycles of Prayer

Judaic spiritual practice can be divided into four major cyclical patterns of observance: The daily cycle – weekday practices; the weekly cycle – Shabbat practices; the monthly cycle – welcoming the new month; and the yearly cycle – festivals and Holy days (Falk, 1996). The daily cycle focuses on the cyclical spiritual practices that occur during the day and includes three prayer services (morning, afternoon, and evening) performed on weekdays (Sunday through Friday).  The weekly cycle draws us into the cycle of the Sabbath, which creates and honors the cyclical spiritual practices that occur at the end of each week. This cycle connects us with the sacred pattern of creation (the seventh day). The monthly cycle brings us into harmony with the phases of the moon and the cyclical spiritual practices that occur from month-to-month. The yearly cycle expands our practice to the historical and seasonal patterns of spirit through the celebration and observance of the festivals and Holy Days.

Two additional patterns of observance exist within and around these four major cycles. These patterns fall into the two categories of the momentary cycle and the life cycle. The momentary cycle consists of the blessings and benedictions that are practiced from moment to moment, awakening us to the sacredness of all things and providing a vehicle of expression for the gratitude we feel for the blessings in our lives.  These practices include blessings and benedictions for all our actions and reactions in life from eating, sleeping, and going to the bathroom to traveling, seeing beautiful sights, and experiencing something new. The life cycle observances are the blessings and benedictions we use to celebrate meaningful life events such as births, weddings, and funerals.