Spiritual, Neural, and Relational Integration: On the union of brain, body, bible, and more (Episode 058)
DESCRIPTION: What if the key to a deep and fulfilling faith journey lies in the integration of the brain, body, and Bible?
Join Cyd and I as we discuss the importance of integration—taking inspiration from the Trinity, the Church as the Body of Christ, our union with God, and the great commandment to love God with our heart, soul, mind, and strength. As we talk about interpersonal neurobiology, internal family systems, and coaching, this conversation will hopefully leave you with a new understanding of the interconnectedness of faith, neuroscience, and the human experience.
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Geoff: When things are disintegrated or disintegrating, that's usually a bad thing. Something is dying or on its way to die. But today we're going to be talking about why integration is important. This is the Embodied Faith Podcast. I am Geoff, this is Cyd Holtsclaw, and we are seeking to speak about a neuroscience. Reformed spiritual formation were produced. Cyd told me, write it out, and I didn't write it out because we're just hammering this one out, but we're produced by grassroots Christianity, which is seeking to grow faith for everyday people. Okay, so, Cyd, you're kind of flying the plane on this one again, like some of the other episodes, which is fantastic. Usually, we start with, like, neuroscience and insights that we find through some research, contemporary kind of learning, and then, like, we bring it into the realm of Bible or of theology. But we're actually going to do the reverse today. We're going to start with some of the spiritual formation stuff that we see in the Bible God, trinity, scripture So why don't you start off with some of that stuff? Where do we see integration in our walk of faith?
Cyd: Well, even in God Himself we see integration. So we have a Trinitarian God Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Distinct persons, but integrated, one God, one being. And so that's the first place. And then we also see as Jesus is preparing for his suffering for the cross.
Geoff: The passion of Christ.
Cyd: Right, he's praying to the Father and he's saying, you know, he's praying for his disciples and for all of us who will someday be his disciples, and he says, father, may they be one as we are one. And so he's praying for unity with the Father, son and Spirit, and also for unity with one another. And then we see Paul telling us that we are all one body. Even though we're different parts, we're all part of one body. And then we also see in Matthew 22, that the two great commandments are to love the Lord, your God, with your heart, soul and mind integrated all three, and to love your neighbor as yourself.
Cyd: And so we see this integration all throughout scripture and lots of different places. But there is this integration of God, father, son and Holy Spirit, of us as the body of Christ being people who are united and integrated in community, and then also being integrated within ourselves body, soul and spirit, or heart, soul, mind strength is sometimes how that's translated, and so we take our cue from. Well, if God himself is integrated, why would it, what does it mean for us to be integrated? and why is integration seem like it's such a big deal?
Geoff: Right, so, yes, so how does this? Well, i was like I could go talk about the theology of stuff forever. We'll probably get back to that. But where does this idea of integration like show up in, like everyday language, outside of the fact that you're probably thinking for all those who are watching online or on YouTube? like I've been growing my beard out, but I think my beard is getting to the place of it being disintegrating as far as Cyd's appreciation of it But she's not going to say that because she loves me too much, but that could be the case. But where else, like an everyday language does like integration or disintegration? I don't know that I would use disintegrating as everyday language around your beard.
Cyd: But I do think that there are other places where it is common language, where we talk about, you know, i know in my head, but I don't know in my heart, or my heart thinks something different, which is sort of a sense of saying I want to be integrated, i want my head and my heart to be integrated. Or we might have this sense of consciously I do this, but unconsciously, i think maybe this is what's going on. And so, again, there's that sort of longing to have the conscious and the unconscious be integrated so that they're they're in harmony or they're consistent with each other. And then we just have the common phrase you know, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, in the sense that when you put everything together, you have more than just everything put together. You have something that is greater than just all of those little parts would be on their own or separated. And so even you know, even the idea of someone is thinking about like I've got this and this and this and this, and then, when you put it all together, you know, then there's this, there's even things about, you know, integrating foods, when you're creating a recipe, wanting to integrate foods in a way that is flavorful and pleasing and appealing at the end.
Cyd: And so there's just so much of our life that is about or integrating, you know, rhythms of work and rest, integrating your vocation into your occupation, or integrating families. When families come together, integrate them. There's, there's a lot about integrating and balancing as another way I think we talk about it. Right, is it balancing work and play, balancing home and, you know, outside of home? I don't. I guess I'm going a little bit off on it.
Geoff: But that sense of like, I think, I think we tend to long for wholeness and integration, because it's part of the way we're made.
Geoff: I think that's a really good way to put it, And I do think that that balance language is used sometimes to refer to integration. Sometimes that just means managing disintegration. Sometimes that's just like, well, I'm really busy over here, but I also need to balance my really busyness over here, Or like I have all my emotions running over here, but now I have to balance it with my emotions Right. So sometimes that that's why I did I liked the integration of wholeness language better than maybe balance, because sometimes balance can just be two opposite forces, you know, just smashing into each other. Speaking of balance and food, you brought this up. When you said balance and food, I was thinking like having multiple colors on your plate. You would always say that when I'm trying to cook, like, could we have more colors?
Cyd: Eat the rainbow.
Geoff: I'm like a meat and potatoes guy, So it's like my food could just be like shades of like the other day when you had dinner. Yeah, so I made dinner and I had chicken and I had rice, but then I had cauliflower And I was kind of a joke because I was like, well, i did have multiple parts.
Cyd You had a meat, you had a vegetable and you had a starch, but they were all the same color.
Geoff: They were all like tan. I was like oops, sorry about that. So that one was technically an integrated diet. It just didn't visually look it at all. So all right, so to bring it into the neuroscience realm and then I want to make sure that all the way, kind of around at the back we talk again maybe about integrated spirituality.
Geoff: But like so Dan Siegel, he's really influential in what is called the interpersonal neurobiology or what I call, for sure, just relational neuroscience, where you're integrating our bodies, our minds, our relationships with other people. So he's very influential in that and he talks a lot about integration. It's like one of his main things is integration is a I was gonna say a balance, but then I stopped myself. But integration for him is the kind of swimming he talks about the flow of life, swimming between chaos, which is no integration, and then rigidity, which is where Kind of just one side of an integration kind of takes over and it becomes lopsided or something like that, and so he talks a lot about integration. So then he talks about the right and left hemispheres Of our brains and how do we integrate those, which is more sometimes the cognitive and the more emotional, social kind of sides of us.
Geoff: He talks about integrating vertically Between kind of our frontal lobes and the rest of our nervous system. You're going to talk about the nervous system in a second. He talks about integrating memory And the presence, so passing and the present, as well as relationships with self and their relationships with others. So he's, you know, really big into integration, and how kind of where you know I would say that God made us for Integration for sure right and he even talks about, like he says, integration creates well-being, that when we are more integrated we are more well.
Cyd: And actually there's been a lot of studies in reputable journals which I know you're gonna say you don't you don't give me the link for the show notes now, but you can find them everywhere. Um, but that integration having a more integrated sense of self and more integrated brain actually Reduces your stress hormones, it reduces cortisol, it increases your immune function, makes you more able to fight off diseases, it decreases your risk of cardiovascular disease or heart attacks And it also reduces your uh, systemic inflammation in your whole body. So he doesn't just mean integration creates well-being in the sense of like you like.
Cyd: Emotional or you like, have emotional regulation, but he also, like, physiologically Integration creates well-being in your body in a very physical kind of way.
Cyd: Um, you know, we also had like Steve and porgas with polyvagal theory also talks about integrating your sympathetic system and your parasympathetic system Which together integrated, make up your autonomic nervous system.
Cyd: And so the sympathetic system is like the gas pedal in the car and the parasympathetic is like the brake pedal, and you need both to be integrated in order to be able to live a life that is well regulated, so meaning you don't fly off the handle emotionally and you're not running between, like having too much energy And having like a crazy sort of frenetic style and then sort of collapsing and being lethargic and not being able to do anything And not get off the couch, and so that's just the simple way of like when those, when you're integrated, when your nervous system is integrated, you're able to function well and have the capacity basically to live the life that is in front of you right which, uh, sometimes we talk about the ability for, uh, emotional regulation or self regulation, which is actually a combination of, um, autonomous regulation, regulating by, by myself, as well as co-regulation the ability to regulate with others.
Geoff: When I feel outside of my windows Of tolerance or outside of my capacity to regulate my own emotions, that I can go and the integration to be able to do both those things. So that is so. We're just touching on different realms of integration.
Cyd: Well, and we haven't even talked about internal family systems, which is you know.
Speaker 2: The idea that you have just sort of different parts or personas that are split off Because of trauma or because of things that were beyond your capacity, and so the whole approach to internal family systems is integrating the different parts of you, um, so that when you're like you know, there's a part of me that really wants to just, you know, eat this whole bucket of ice cream. Then there's another part of me that's saying no, that's a horrible idea, don't do that.
Geoff: There's a part of me that regularly wants to stay up late watching NBA basketball playoffs. But the other part of me, who's you?
Cyd: know the other part of you yells at you in the morning like why did you stay up late again?
Geoff: Yeah, i'm so tired and I'm not being productive the way I want to. So well, okay. So let's just take a little detour, since you brought up the IFS internal family system stuff How do you work toward integration in those in that kind of setting, like if you were just just a real top kind of level?
Cyd: Well, the idea is that you know it's when you're when these parts are sort of separated or out of touch with each other, that that's when they sort of remain at opposing or polarizing positions, but by by turn helping them to be integrated in conversation with your, with. Ifs would call it your core, true self. I would say it's you know, christ in you, the hope of glory and the hope of unification. You know as our Christ self, fully integrated in the Trinitarian God, is able to sort of turn toward and have compassion for all the different parts of ourselves. That's when all of our parts can come and be integrated in the life of Christ within us. And so it's that, instead of being unaware or out of communication, it's the idea of turning toward listening, leaning in, having dialogue, and it's that sense of integrating all of the different parts of yourself into one integrated whole, which I believe is only possible when we can integrate in Christ. So amen.
Geoff: So so that was like my body relationships, internal family systems. You also talk about, like you call yourself an integrative coach. So how does that?
Cyd: what does that mean for like, yeah, i call myself an integrative coach And I say that what I do is coaching toward integration. The reason I say that is because I'm bringing integration of all of the things that I bring to coaching. Because I bring coaching, spiritual direction, neuro linguistic programming, inner healing, prayer you know some of the parts work, and so, bringing all of that together, i'm integrating the tools and the skills that I have, but it's also for the sake of integrating the people who I have a working relationship with, and so it's. It's, you know, integrating your story, integrating your past into your present, and you know, finding ways to be able to tell a coherent story of your life and and be able to feel like you are a person who has your, your part has been, your past has been allowed to be part of your present, which, when those are well integrated, moves you into a more present you being having greater presence in your future. That sounded a lot more complicated than it, than it actually is.
Cyd: And then also, you know, integrating your body, soul and mind. Some, some of us are very disconnected from our bodies and some of us are very disconnected from our minds, and so, integrating mind and body, integrating thinking and feeling. You know, integrating our ability to be independent and do things on our own, while also integrating our ability to be independent and intimate with other people and to be well connected. You know, just integrating a vocation and occupation, like I said, like finding purpose across your work and your play, and integrating your, your alignment, like your values, integrating your values into everything that you're doing. And, you know, becoming more free in your, in your attachments and disordered, ordered and disordered attachments with God, and so that, just the you know, greater integration leads to greater freedom. Greater freedom leads to, you know, greater contribution in the world around you and a greater capacity to be able to love God and to love others.
Geoff: Oh, i love that. So that brings us back to kind of the spiritual formation or the theological side, and I was thinking of one integration piece that We didn't mention, which is just the union of the divine and human in Christ. That's fully God.
Geoff: Yeah fully human And that that is kind of the principle way in which we are being brought up into the divine life. It's because Jesus has fully taken on what we are so that we could fully, you know, receive what he is, who he is, and the infill integration that he has for us which also reminds me of Jim death.
Cyd: Murray is a coach who I have learned a lot from, and he talks about coaching to the context of the person rather than just the content of their life, and so that you know that sense of of being Integrated into the body of Christ and into you, know Christ in us and us in Christ. The context of who we are as people is that we are most ourselves and we are our true selves when we are in Christ, when we are hidden in Christ With God. And so the context of the person is the more integrated we become, the more the content or the subjects or the issues or the things that are happening in our life Become more a bit. We become able to handle those with greater capacity when we are more integrated in our context of the person.
Geoff: So Amen, So how does that happen spiritually then? because you're like a spiritual director, a coach, you're a trauma-informed coach, just really quickly, how does that transformation of, like the context and With the content, how do you see that happening, like on a spiritual Yeah working toward, like spiritual maturity. Yeah, maturity is integration rather than Stop sinning or something like that.
Cyd: Right. So I mean, i'm just gonna borrow from Ignatius of Loyola, who, you know, has great Ideas about just about all kinds of things, but in his what he calls his principle and foundation, which is sort of his understanding of what life in the world is all about, he sort of talks about how it's the human vocation humans are created, humans exist to praise God and to love and serve God in humanity, and that all of the created world Exists for us to be able to be able to do that more freely and more fully. And so, depending on how we are related to the things in the world, sometimes we are Trapped or held captive By the things in the world, and other times the things that we have in the world around us, including other people and all of the life circumstances, free us up because we are well ordered with them, and so they assist us in being able to praise God and to love and serve God and others. And so, the more that we learn that we are actually truly free, the more, the more we're able to receive the love of God, and the more we're able to love God, the more our desires Become more shaped and in line with what God also desires and the more we can just do What we choose to do, what we want to do, because the more in harmony, the more integrated we become with God's life in us and our life in God, the less concerned We have to be about.
Cyd: Oh, i just want to. I just want to know what God's will is so that I can do it. I just want to be obedient, or I just want to be faithful, and it can be more about I Feel like God loves me, i know his heart, he knows my heart and I can be free to love and serve The way that I want to love and serve, because I am more integrated into the kingdom, into God's life, into God's love, you know. And so that can show up a lot of different ways And I don't really have time to talk about all of them, right?
Geoff: now all the other episodes, or fourth but that general sense of like.
Cyd: You know, my longing and my heart for every Christian is that we wouldn't have this sense of Needing to do it right or to get it right, or I just wish that God would deliver me the instructions so that I could follow them, and then I would know that I had been faithful and obedient. Yeah, but instead to become more and more in harmony and in union with God, so that we can live with greater joy and freedom, knowing that, as we have come to know God and he's come to know us, that we can be Free really to participate and partner with him as we live his life.
Geoff: So every, every so often, Cyd hosts a learning cohort called rooted that goes through some of these Transformational tools.
Cyd: That's really seek integration with your body, body, soul and spirit, right mind, yeah, so please check that out on in the show notes.
Geoff: Please Like, subscribe on YouTube. If you're watching there, share this as well, as you can find in the show notes different ways that you can support the podcast to help us kind of get these episodes out As often as possible. So, Cyd, thanks for just taking a little bit to explain why integration is so important for you, for your work, and how we can think about that spiritually as well as rest of our lives, and we will talk to all of you. You are soon.
Cyd: Thanks for listening today.