Monday, April 4, 2011

Living in Integrity

Recently I had a conversation with a friend who expressed her frustration with the lack of integrity she often encounters with businesses that claim to care about the environment but in fact have no clear understanding of what ethical environmental practices are. Documentaries abound exposing us to the unethical practices by the global banking community, pharmaceutical companies, and big corporations.

Human population growth has altered nature’s systems for maintaining long-term balance by reducing the impact of natural disasters. Through such interventions as fragmenting the forest into smaller and smaller pieces, harvesting timber for immediate profits, "importing" invasive plant and animal species, introducing genetically modified seeds into the food chain, suppressing natural wildfires leading to larger more destructive ones, and spraying for insects creating conditions for out-of-balance wildlife, we have interrupted the natural cycle that allows nature to take care of itself.

What is personal integrity and ethical behavior? We are in the midst of global change--our planet is evolving. How do we become part of the solution in restoring balance? How do we co-create the world we want to leave for our descendents? Mother Nature demonstrates restoring balance through natural disasters. She steps in and takes control of imbalances through earthquakes, floods, and tsunamis.

Sometimes we pray for change. We ask the Universe to show us the way to become our authentic self, a person of integrity. Discomfort forces us to change our situation, to move us into balance. But when we find ourselves losing a job, a home, friends or a spouse, we can feel like victims.

Two decades years ago I began to envision a new way of being, one that included living with nature all around me and a life where I was able to be my true, authentic self out in the world. I yearned for a home where fences did not surround me, a place where I could experience the natural world. The changes that had to occur for this dream to manifest have been extensive and if anyone had told me what the journey would look like I probably would have declined and settled for the familiar, limiting circumstances that I knew.

In response to my prayers the Universe invited me to go deep within myself and ask difficult questions. Each new step of the journey required me to consider what it meant to be my authentic self and what needed to shift in me if I wanted to stand in integrity. I was provided new opportunities to expand along the way, some easy and some very challenging: leaving my teaching career before retirement age; selling my home of twenty years to move into a small condo near the ocean; caring for my mother during the last five years of her life; going to Africa to learn traditional healing from a Zulu shaman; moving every three to five years; moving four times within six months.

But now here I am, settled in the town I’ve envisioned living in since adolescence, making my living through work I am passionate about, being of service to Spirit, and living on an amazing piece of property surrounded by the tranquil sounds of the natural world, within walking distance of the ocean.

This journey of life leads us through many adventures, asking us to work with  the situations our journey provides, learning to trust in the evolutionary process. In this process we can discover our true nature, our authentic self.

Nature can teach us how to regain our balance. Spending time alone with a tree, in a garden, at the ocean, or hiking on a favorite trail is the perfect way to go within and listen to your inner voice. Remember who you truly are, your authentic self. Your soul came here with a blueprint and lesson plan. However each of us gets to choose how we move through our days on Earth. We have free will. The path of self-discovery is one of remembering our true purpose, our authentic self, while engaged in this experience of life.

When we choose to flow with life, we have the opportunity to learn about the importance of integrity within others and ourselves. Before we can expect global integrity we must accept the responsibility of standing in our own truth. Then we become part of the solution, part of the co-creative process.

"A life lived with integrity, even if it lacks the trappings of fame and fortune, is a shining star in whose light others may follow in the years to come."
~ Denis Waitley