Spiritual Exercises – Evolution

Choose one of these exercises to try this month. Go for the one that intrigues you, captures your interest.

Option 1:  What’s in The Way?
Dawna Markova writes, “The seeds of life that are in all of us want to expand outward. The shell around each seed that grows thick to protect it must crack if the seed is to sprout.”

There may be something between evolution and us: a shell, a barrier which holds us back from the next stage. This spiritual exercise is straightforward, but not easy:

1. Figure out what’s currently standing in the way of you “evolving.”
2. Identify some object to symbolize this barrier.
3. Put that object in a place that you will see it every day during this month.
4. Commit to doing something significant to remove that barrier.
5. Bring the object to your group.
6. Tell your story.

Option 2: In What Direction?
Evolution is most often described in linear terms. Think of the phrase: “We are advancing as a species.” Or conjure the iconic image of human evolution that starts with an ape, moves to a Neanderthal, and ends with upright Homo sapiens. Simply put, the “direction” of evolution is “forward.” But is that the best way to think about personal evolution? Isn’t personal progress sometimes made by going in reverse, taking two steps back, returning to your core, or starting over again? Isn’t psychological evolution sometimes a matter of untwisting things or seeing things finally as more twisted and complicated than they first appeared? And isn’t the direction of spiritual evolution a downward attempt to go deeper? What is it for you? It’s hard to personally evolve when you’re unclear about what “direction” your path of evolution needs to take.

Ask yourself, “What ‘direction’ do I need to go in order to evolve?”
Trust the question. See where it takes you. Does growth, progress, and evolution for you involve going up, down, backwards, or simply staying put? Is getting off the “straight and narrow path” what you need to do? Is your heart hungry for you to go deeper? Do you need to go inward? Or outward?

Pick the directional word that best describes the way in which you need to most evolve and come to your group prepared to explain why that word fits the journey that you need to take. Perhaps even come to your group prepared to share how thinking about this in directional terms helped you see something you hadn’t seen before.

Draw a picture or create a collage of images that reflect your understanding of this direction.  Put the image somewhere you will see it frequently.  Take time to sit with the image(s) and see what arises for you. If you like, bring your creation to the group.


Option 3: Make a case for the most powerful unsung evolutionary force
What drives us to evolve? What force pushes us to be better? The candidates for this are legion.
But what “evolutionary force” has received the short end of the stick from your point of view? What “wonderful thing” helps us evolve but often doesn’t get credit? What unsung evolutionary force are you most grateful for? Joy? Art? Beauty? Music? Play? Connection? Honest work? Love?
Come to your group with one word that represents the most powerful “unsung” evolutionary force out there! And come prepared to defend it with a good story or two.


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