August 11, 2022

When thinking of the word integration, what generally comes to mind? Do we even correlate integration with the mind? Oftentimes, we don’t.

Integration doesn’t just happen within the classroom; it also happens within your brain. Dr. Daniel Siegal, a neuropsychiatrist and the Mindsight educator out of UCLA, is a thought leader on the importance of neural integration.

Like myself, he is another originator of an unheard-of term called interpersonal neurobiology, which is the combination of all the fields of science that exists into one perspective. He has introduced this framework to give awareness to the importance of interconnectedness on all levels.

He boldly claims that an integrated brain is a healthy brain.

In the framework of interpersonal neurobiology, integration is where things are allowed to be different and exhibit differentiation—enabling differences and supporting those differences—yet those differences are then allowed to be linked, and in the linkage, you don’t lose the differentiation.

That’s the key! This is not assimilation, it’s integration.

Siegal believes this is the way to build the human mind and our relationships; we learn by respecting our differences—religious, ethnically, and nationally—which in turn, allows us to connect compassionately with others while maintaining our distinctions.

Having integrated relationships increases the integration in our brains. An integrated relationship comes about when you reflect on your relationships and people honor each other and care about each other with connection and effective communication. When these types of relationships are in place, you actually stimulate the growth of the integrated fibers in your brain. These are the fibers that allow you to have resilience.

Intercultural creativity is an integration of relationships. 

This should be our building goal: a compassionate ecosystem of integration within ourselves, our homes, our communities, our businesses and our world. One of the main ways to build an integrated brain, in addition to integrating our relationships, is to be aware of our senses, the arts, our imagination, and our emotions. Dr. Siegal’s advice is harmonious with the 7 Gems of Intercultural Creativity®.

Integration doesn’t just have benefits on the macro level but internally as well. When the brain is integrated, it reduces cortisol, which is linked to an array of chronic health issues. It enhances immune function and reduces cardiovascular risk factors. It reduces inflammation in the body and slows down the aging process!

Therefore, Intercultural Creativity®, which is the process of problem finding and problem solving with relevance, value and novelty with people from different lived backgrounds, is in direct alignment with the concept and importance of neural integration.

We must build our skills to be cognizant of people’s differences and similarities and learn how to link up and create with them without losing the distinctiveness that makes us who we are and who they are.

How will you connect, build, and add value with others today?

An integrated life is a healthy interculturally creative life. Let’s build together and look in the often-overlooked spaces!