In our prison meditation group, we have a strong focus on mentorship and support for each member by the group. It is helpful in such a processing group, in a family, a relationship, or other classes that we all consider together how to give deep support of one’s life journey. Only then can we evaluate how to best serve each other.
Here we share with you a letter that offers a brief perspective on growth and evolution. We explore how all of us meet our growing edges of all the many aspects of our self constantly. If we understand that reaching those edges, especially when many aspects of self are approaching safety, defying next steps simultaneously, we may feel vulnerable and fearful. If, however, we know that each is the next step in our evolution, these edges are presenting themselves because we are growing. Therefore, we must tip toe along our path or take a flying leap to resolution. In this way, each challenge is made more manageable as we give ourselves the clarity of a road map. Then we can ask for the help and support of others who appreciate our journey. We learn to practice the essential key of emotional self-regulation, balance, and ‘letting go’ of fears because we know the root of our distress.
Then on we go with supportive people going beyond intellectual or emotional “choices” and instead, we are learning to listen to inner wisdom guiding us on our life long journey.
Here is the letter to guide the men in our group with a bit more self-awareness.
We are each on a spiritual journey that takes a unique form – in a spiritual tradition, in a creative form like art, music or writing, in a physical expression like dance, yoga, a subtle energy art, or in inner wisdom conversation or experience. How can we support you in finding love, clarity, and maybe a little guidance on your journey?
Many people are so lost in their emotional confusion, they are not able to feel that inner push towards evolutionary growth. They don’t even understand that they are growing. They just feel the chaos of life events as dictating their years unfolding. They feel like the victim instead of the creator of their life.
Every one of us, however, begins life held in the perception of others and in a world into which we are born that is dynamic in its influence on our very earliest beliefs of who we are. Our physical, biochemical, hormonal, environmental, relationship, and community influences all create the earliest understanding of an “I” and all that is “other than I”. Our early sense of self and our world is a foundation upon which we build our brain, our body, our ego, our personality, and our capacity to love and to be resilient under stress. If our world is stressful or traumatic and we do not receive much support. Fear – and thus reactionary, self-protective and angry emotions – is our foundation. If we receive love and have an abundance of other supportive and healthy influences, we are more trusting and our deep foundation is one of love. Of course, everyone receives a unique mixture of all these qualities and then builds their very unique foundation.
We start our journey with a built in code of evolutionary steps influenced by our unique foundation of influences. Almost all healthy babies are able to cry when hungry, reach for mother and food, turn over at a month or two old, sit up in the same age range, and begin walking around one year old. All of our other developmental processes have an evolutionary code built into our DNA as well. All may be influenced by the multitude of factors within us and external to us, but there is always that inner push to develop our brain, our physical skills, our emotional skills, our intellect, our problem solving skills, our moral and ethical mores, our talents and creativity, our relationships, our meaningful work and gifts, and as each experiences it, our path to more subtle wisdom evolution. This last part of our evolution may be called whatever might be right for each individual because it is, in truth, so unique and subtle that it may be nameless and undefined. It might be a constructed and identified religious path or it may be transcendence looking at sunsets and clouds. For some it might begin as an important part of one’s life as a very young child and for others it does not emerge until mid-life or later. There is no right or wrong. This aspect of one’s life path is as important as all others. When evolving, it gives profound meaning to what life is all about for each person. For ease, we will continue to call this more subtle path our spiritual path.
For those who are more fear based, just like all other evolutionary steps, they see fear manifesting in their spiritual path too. For those who are more love based, their choice of a spiritual path will likely take the expression of love in many forms.
Here is where it is a little tricky. In the evolutionary expression of all aspects of our growth, human beings tend to have such a strong push to enter into our next stage that we often feel vulnerable. Growth brings uncertainty and fear. Early in childhood, especially when we live in an environment of competition and judgment, we want to be successful in our new steps. Every little kid sees the bigger kids running faster, riding bikes more daringly, making better grades in school, and on and on in every part of our life. We want to emulate those who are just ahead of us in a growth task and we judge others as not being as good as us when they are just behind us. Instead of reaching back and trying to help others along, we often criticize and tease them for being ‘less than’. So we get the teasing from those ahead of us and we pass it on to those a few steps behind. But, if one is way ahead of us, we don't comprehend it at all because we can’t even imagine ourselves in that world. Those far behind us, a baby perhaps when we are ten, can receive our enthusiastic help because we have separated their tasks from our own, and we want to be compassionate and caring in sympathy with their struggles. Even in our spiritual growth, these changes are an emotional challenge for most of us. Those a bit ahead of us are manifesting a spiritual growth that we want to learn from and emulate, if we are drawn to that particular path. Those on a different path or a bit behind us on a similar path may well be criticized and judged for not being so wise, insightful, or aware. We may even believe self-righteously that they are on the wrong path while we are on the right path.
No matter where we are in our evolution of any growth task, such emotional beliefs are indicators of our vulnerability and fear of the changes that we are embarking upon.
No matter what arena we are developing and changing in, the most beneficial support that anyone can give us is to:
Love us where we are.
Do not judge us as we undergo our unique journey of making life changes in a multitude of arenas.
Support the belief that we are listening to our own inner voice, even the compelling DNA that we inherited, or a spiritual guide that sings to us, and then helps us to clarify that voice. One who asks us what that voice means to us is most helpful, rather than one who is telling us how we should do that next step right or what that next step should be.
Listening to and developing into our next step on our path means finding a vehicle that allows us deep relaxation, peace, balance, inner quiet, and love for our self. These required qualities are not just for our spiritual journey, but for all of our tasks of evolutionary transition. Those vehicles might be meditating, writing, prayer, singing, and other deeply personal skills. Emotional self-regulation is the most important skill of all.
If there are those who criticize, judge, or tell us we are wrong as we take our evolutionary steps, we might listen to their words BUT then discern if their words are helpful or harmful to our inner guidance. If this person does not seem to love and honor us, and does not seem to support our growth, then distance yourself appropriately from such people. Set appropriate boundaries and do not take in what they say as a personal criticism. You are always the expert on you.
Given the capacity of our Life Principles group and the compassion and open-mindedness of its members, how can this support community continue to serve you or better serve you as you approach your growing edge? Consider what you need in your growth and how can members give you that. There are members representing many spiritual traditions, many creative traditions, many subtle movement traditions, many religions, and many backgrounds. Let’s be creative and see if we can tap into such depth and love to serve us all the best that we can.