Integrity is represented in two directions.
One side of integrity faces out into the world and the other faces us.
Outwardly, our integrity is represented by who we are, how we present ourselves to others, what we do, what we say, and how well our actions align with our words and intentions.
Inwardly, our integrity is a measure of what we allow into our lives, our hearts, and our minds, and how we allow the world and its people to affect us, influence us, and change us.
We often think only about the outward manifestation of integrity and forget about its internal aspects.
That is to say, we tend to think only about integrity in terms of what we do and say, but not what we accept, tolerate, and internalize.
In some ways, the external manifestation of our integrity is the easy part.
It is difficult to do perfectly, but it is relatively easy to measure.
Simply put, external integrity is being where we say we are going to be when we say we are going to be there and doing what we said we would do once we arrive.
Our internal integrity is much more complex of an issue because it is extremely personal.
A fulfilling, meaningful, and purpose-driven life demands openness.
In order to live, to really, truly live, we absolutely must be open to new ideas, new experiences, and sensitive to the needs, feelings, and desires of those around us.
But, this is where it gets tricky.
We must be open, compassionate, and sensitive enough to experience the world, our relationships, and our lives in their fullest, deepest, and richest capacities while also not forgetting, losing, and betraying who we are in the process.
Internal integrity is a razor sharp line where we must be just porous enough to feel everything, but with boundaries clear and strong enough to only allow in that which serves us and others through us.
Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.
Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Taikyoku Mind & Body and Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
All photos by Robert Van Valkenburgh unless otherwise noted.
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