Right or Wrong?

I’ve been feeling this tear between having to choose between one practice or another… one philosophy or another, one value or another… one perspective or another… one part of myself or another… because there is an inner judge saying… one must be right and one must be wrong. How can I have integrity if I am combining things?    

I looked up integrity and integrate as definitions and found something so beautiful in their relationship with one another.  In this writing I begin to explore what that means for deep self-acceptance and how it plays out in asana practice.

Definition of Integrity

Integrity and Integrate: 

    1. Integrity: State of being whole, undivided. Quality of being honest. State of being whole and complete.  One who follows inner values… has a strong sense of an inner moral compass. 
    2. Integrate: Combine one thing with another so they become whole. Bring people or groups with particular characteristics or needs into equal participation into membership of a social group or institution. To put together parts or elements and combine them into a whole. To make whole by bringing all parts together – UNIFY.

Beyond Right and Wrong

What I like about these definitions is that they give us permission to surpass the arguments about what’s right and wrong, good enough, valuable and not valuable and… it’s like…. that’s not the point. It is important to distill things down to truth and so there is important value in discerning… but that means that once each individual philosophy, individual thought, individual moment has been distilled down… that they are (maybe?) meant to be put together… not kept separate because… as philosophy’s actually state in their own ways… everything is ONE. These parts are maybe not meant to be kept separate, except for organizations sake… and learnings sake… like an outline of a major thesis… we have to understand the parts in order to understand the whole…

Real Freedom:
We Have to Understand the Parts to Understand the Whole

That’s it…. We have to understand the parts to understand the whole.. and these are all just parts.  If we got into an argument about which is wrong and right… well, that’s like going unconscious.. it’s slipping into judgment… and is totally besides the point. They are all just different perspectives. Some perspectives cause suffering, some are hard, some are easy, some we learn a lot from, some the heart closes, some the heart opens, some are uncomfortable, some are pleasant…. some bring a lot of fear, some teach us grace, some can make something that was unpleasant become enjoyable…. but knowing and understanding all the parts is essential to putting it all together in a full integration that is aligned with a core truth. 

How it plays out in asana practice:
When I break down a pose in class… we look at the whole and then examine all the parts… the hands, the arms, the torso, the legs, the toes, then the tension or ease in the body.. how to use effort… the ability to focus and concentrate our awareness on individual pieces… and all the emotions and thoughts that accompany each pose and our relationship to the sensations that arise…  When we look at things from all different perspectives we begin to learn that some cause suffering, some are harder, some are easier, some we learn a lot from, some bring us freedom… so then we put it all back together… taking ourselves from concentrating on single points to spreading our consciousness into full absorption…so to stop and say… only the arms are important… or only the toes…  one would miss the opportunity to integrate everything, to put it all together…which often brings about a deeper understanding of what it is to experience freedom…the basic truth connecting it all and the opportunity to practice according to that.  We also experience this when using a prop.. at first the prop is to teach us something, to give us access to a different way of moving or seeing…to more possibilities than we dreamed of! Once we have access to that freedom, we no longer need the prop.   

To Break Down and to Integrate:

I think that this is important in becoming ourselves.. wholey (I know that’s not a word!) and completely… because we have to see ourselves to become more fully ourselves and we can get caught up in judgement and fear about what we see, whether it is right or wrong… and then we can surpass that, but then we have to be SEEN by others… and that comes with all it’s own set of fears about being valuable, worthy, right, wrong… good enough…. and so we have to see ourselves… we have to see ALL the parts of ourselves and understand them… be seen…and continue to allow our WHOLE self to be there… to do that, we have to have understanding of each part and how it aligns with the whole… that allows us to integrate them together into one being… so that every action comes from integrity, comes from a listening and an honesty… every action serves the core value, whole and complete.  

Sutra 1. 32

tat-pratisedhartham eka-tattvabhyasah
Practice of fixing the mind on one object should be performed in order to eliminate disturbances. 
This Sutra is giving us a path of action to work with a “dispersed mind.”

The disturbances / obstacles are listed in sutra 1.30 

  1. disease / sickness
  2. idleness / mental inertia
  3. doubt
  4. carelessness / haste
  5. sloth / apathy
  6. lack of detachment / intemperance
  7. misapprehension / errors in judgment of oneself
  8. failure to attain a base for concentration / lack of perseverance
  9. instability / inability to stay at a level once reached

The effects of these disturbances / obstacles are listed in Sutra 1.31:

  1. suffering
  2. depression
  3. physical restlessness
  4. disturbed breathing


  1. How does self-knowledge encourage judicious choice?
  2. What are my values?
  3. What do these values give me? Why are they my values? What are they helping me to stay aligned with?
  4. How can I discern when my attachment sends me in the wrong direction?
  5. How can I evolve from quantity to quality in all aspects of my life: professional, emotional, and spiritual?
  6. What perspectives help the most when navigating obstacles to perceiving reality correctly, staying connected to my heart, and being present?
  7. How do perspectives that are aligned with my values affect my experiences and what alternative does this give me to my usual pattern of reaction?

List of Values:

Here are some examples of values to get the fire started!

  1. Accountability
  2. Achievement
  3. Adaptability
  4. Ambition
  5. Attitude
  6. Awareness
  7. Balance  
  8. Being the best
  9. Caring
  10. Coaching
  11. Mentoring
  12. Commitment
  13. Community
  14. Involvement
  15. Compassion
  16. Competence
  17. Conflict
  18. Resolution
  19. Continuous learning
  20. Cooperation Courage Creativity
  21. Dialogue
  22. Ease with uncertainty
  23. Enthusiasm
  24. Entrepreneurial
  25. Environmental
  26. Efficiency
  27. Ethics
  28. Excellence
  29. Fairness
  30. Family
  31. Financial
  32. stability
  33. Forgiveness
  34. Friendships
  35. Future generations
  36. Generosity
  37. Health
  38. Honesty
  39. Humility
  40. Humor/fun
  41. Independence
  42. Integrity
  43. Initiative
  44. Intuition
  45. Job security
  46. Leadership
  47. Listening
  48. Making a difference
  49. Open communication
  50. Openness
  51. Patience
  52. Perseverance
  53. Professional Growth
  54. Personal fulfillment
  55. Personal growth
  56. Power
  57. Recognition
  58. Reliability
  59. Respect
  60. Responsibility
  61. Risk-taking
  62. Safety
  63. Self-discipline
  64. Success
  65. Teamwork
  66. Trust
  67. Vision
  68. Wealth
  69. Well-being
  70. Wisdom
About the Image at the top: 
This is an image of Buddha overcoming the temptations of Mara to attain enlightenment.  The smaller meditating figures are Boddhisatvas, disciples of Buddha, who have remained mortal.  The bird-like figure swallowing serpents at the top is Garuda, the devourer of the ego.  The piece was reproduced from a Tibetan Buddhist repousee.  From Wikipedia.. four metaphorical forms of “māra” are given:  1. Kleśa-māra, or Ma̋ra as the embodiment of all unskillful emotions such as greed, hate and delusion. 2. Mṛtyu-māra, or Māra as death. 3. Skandha-māra, or Māra as metaphor for the entirety of conditioned existence. 4. Devaputra-māra, the deva of the sensuous realm, who tries to prevent Gautama Buddha from attaining liberation from the cycle of rebirth on the night of the Buddha’s enlightenment.