We are constantly birthing new versions of ourselves.
As a prenatal yoga teacher and trainer whose daughter is old enough to drive, this is what continues to make teaching prenatal yoga so meaningful to me.
The practices and principles that support a beautiful, authentic, meaningful birth also help us constantly become a new, more intelligent, more powerful and more deeply authentic version of ourselves. At least this is what I believe. It’s very personal, our spirituality.
Mine is in part is expressed beautiful by what’s been called Evolutionary Spirituality:
The basic idea is that many of us learned in school that apes evolved, and now we’re here, and that’s it.
Obviously we’re still evolving – but we tend to forget that we can partipate in our evolution, both as individuals and as a species.
What direction are you feeling drawn to? If you think about it, it’s always both more complexity, and yet more connectivity.
And how we define connectivity in modern life is but a blip in the whole timeline:
- Over three billion years ago, we were single-celled organisms
- A billion years later we were complex amoebas with a nucleus
- About another billion years after that we were cells that adhered together to form colonies, and it only took 300 million years to become the first multi-celled animals: sea sponges
- Twenty million years later – things were speeding up – jellyfish came to be
- 30 million after that we’re flatworms, the first animals to have bilateral symmetry and a brain.
- It took 35 million years for amphibians to be able to dwell on water and land
- and then another 15 million years for reptiles to exist primarily on land
- 80 million years later: mammals, with their warm blood and hair and ability to manager temperature by sweating, giving birth to babies
- After the dinosaurs died out, our direct ancestors, the primates, came to be about 55 million years ago
- 45 million years after that – the monkey
- 15 1/2 million years later was Lucy, the first ape to walk on two feet, 3.2 million years ago
- 1.8 million years later – the earliest hunter/gatherer was using tools
- less than a million years later they were using fire
- 700,000 years after that, about 100,000 years ago, the first homo sapiens lived in Africa
- by 50,000 years ago they had developed culture: they made jewelry, painted art on walls, played music on instrucments, traded, had advanced language and thought
- 500 years ago, sugar became popular
- 300 years ago – electricity was born and we started eating dinner later in the day
- 30 years ago, we had the internet
- 15 years ago, the iphone came to be
- now, AI is being created
To me, putting evolution into perspective reminds me of three important things:
1. We have always been evolving, and we’re still evolving now
2. We are connected to all beings, evolving on a long path with many turn-offs
3. We are just a teeny tiny blip with our modern technologically-driven lives, and in a way, our habits and culture haven’t even happened yet. Our modern, virtual life with all its gadgets, processed food and AI – won’t evolve to what they will actually become for a very very long time.
Having used birth as my guru for more than 20 years, I’ve come to see pregnancy as an opportunity – if we let it be – to evolve. But we don’t have to be pregnant to be leaning in to what’s possible for ourselves to become. Pregnancy is a time of change, but change is happening all the time, for all of us, with every breath.
What’s Evolutionary Spirituality?
Evolutionary Spirituality is the idea that not only are we still evolving, but that we can choose to participate in evolution by listening within to what’s called our “evolutionary impulse”. I first learned about it from Craig Hamilton, a leader in the field and an author, meditation teacher and spiritual thought leader for decades.
He teaches that we don’t meditate to walk through life calmly or to have exciting out-of-body experiences, although both can happen when we meditate.
Instead, we meditate to clear the pathway in to what he calls the “evolutionary impulse” – that feeling of being excited by something, or enticed, or just drawn to it for some reason we might not even understand.
We meditate so we can hear that little voice inside that Craig’s wife, also my teacher – Claire Zammit, creator of Feminine Power, calls our “Inner GPS”.
For me, this concept has been very meaningful, and has had a powerful effect on my life.
Before, I walked around feeling like I was supposed to be done and perfect.
But over the years I’ve leaned into the concept that there really is no there there.
That every moment has the possibility of becoming something new… like fish looking longingly at land, dreaming about growing legs.
Were the fish curious? Interested? Were they really excited?
I don’t know.
But when I have a consistent meditation practice, it’s like I can sense what’s next for me: what feels interesting, even exciting; what will help me grow most, or reconnect to a part of myself I haven’t seen for a while; what will help me expand in to new forms.
Whether we’re talking about cleaning the kitchen vs. writing (today I chose writing), or starting a new project or having a new overall intention for my life – the inner knowing feels present for me. That is, when I slow down, and breathe, and make space, and listen.
This inner GPS is not always directing me to the easy way, or one that I’ll be successful at (flashbacks of learning how to act), or the most fun – but it’s the one that has what I need to learn about my self, and the place I will receive the most gifts.
It feels like desire. Not “I want a donut”, but something that feels deeper, more long-term and more like “there’s something here for me, I’m not sure what, but I feel really enticed/scared/alive when I think about doing it.”
It’s an inner knowing I try and follow always, and when we listen, we get to live life on our most meaningful, authentic, and purposeful life path – and we keep becoming something new.
What Does It Mean to YOU to be Spiritual?
I learned something about my own spirituality by listening to this story Craig Hamilton told once, because it validated my own experience.
He said he had spent time in ashrams with other big names I recognized – Ken Wilbur I think, and other now well-known spiritual authors and teachers.
At the ashram would meditate up to six hours a day.
And yet the times they felt most spiritual weren’t while meditating, or right after meditating, or sitting quietly at meals, or mopping the floors.
I remember being surprised and happy about his answer.
He said the times when they felt most connected to their higher Selves was at night, in the kitchen, sitting around a table and talking about what they wanted to do – start a magazine, open a school, give a talk.
It was when they were leaning in to what was possible, maybe almost possible, possibly not possible, but something that was exciting and drawing them forward.
Listening to their evolutionary impulse, even before they acted on it, helped them experience themselves as souls in a body, here by choice and here for a purpose.
When We’re At Our Most Spiritual
Having an evolutionary mindset doesn’t just mean self-actualization.
It means recognizing we are all inspiring each other; that when we grow legs, we show the way for others.
They say geese fly 70% farther and faster together, when in formation.
When we’re part of an evolutionary culture – when we energetically sponsor each other, and look for the greatest potentials in each other – that’s when we literally change our world.
When we recognize that when one of us steps up, we make it ok for our sisters to, we can do it more easily – and in doing so, we lift everyone up.
In an evolutionary community, we support each other in changing, rather than trying to keep each other staying the same. We make space for each other to grow and develop. We don’t put each other into boxes; we look for the goddess in each other, and support people in expressing their highest Self in new ways.
We recognize that one person’s evolution is our evolution. That when someone breaks through fear, or acts despite self-doubt, or listens to what is pulling her foward on what feels like her path – she does it for all of us.
I remember working with a woman who had MS, and she would try to walk using the wall and could barely move. But when I was walking next to her, she could do it.
Was it that she felt supported, and safer? Or that somehow her cells were actually learning what to do from my cells? Maybe all of the above.
In this nurturing environment, we can start to see our own personal challenges as collective challenges. We as women have as a culture gone through experiences together. Feeling stuck in marriage? The trading of women for money is how the institution of marriage started – maybe it’s time for you to redefine it in a more authentic way. Feeling drawn to learn more about using herbs and spices for food and medicine, but strangely nervous about it? The fear of the feminine created the The Salem Witch Trials, where women reconnecting to feminine intution and nature got them burned. Its deep within us all.
What’s happening to you right now in a way is happening to all of us.
And what you do about it will happen to all of us too.
Once we recognize that we are all connected, desperately trying to grow those new legs and get out of the water together, we have more tools to work through our own obstacles. And instead of thinking we have to figure it out on our own, we can recognize that we are all trying to figure it out, so we might as well support each other.
How To Find Your Own Evolutionary Mindset
Here’s an exercise for you to be able to reconnect with your Evolutionary Self.
Imagine a pretty big wooden porch on a lovely Victorian house with a front yard and walkway.
Your Meditative Self
On one side of the porch is your fat, sleepy black cat. The cat is content to just be there, and not alarmed or thrown by anything. She might open one eye as you walk by, but that’s about it. She goes back to just enjoying being.
The cat represents the part of us we connect to in meditation. Calm, content, relaxed. Passive. Allowing things to be.
A very important part of ourselves to connect to.
And yet, if you tried to live life from this place, you wouldn’t get much done.
On the other side of the porch is a scary looking Pit Bull with a spiky collar and a thick chain. It growls, froths at the mouth, and barks at the slightest movement.
The dog represents the part of us that’s super protective of us: the ego. Our ego wants everything to remain exactly the same – don’t try anything new, don’t attempt something challenging, don’t be vulnerable and shed an old identity – just stay right here because it’s safe.
The ego gets a bad rap in spiritual circles, but it’s here to protect us. It stops us from running out into the middle of the street; it keeps us from blurting out things that might make us look dumb.
Have gratitude for you ego, but just like your meditative Self, if you tried to live life from your ego – well, again, you wouldn’t get anything done.
Your Evolutionarily Spiritual Self
Thankfully, we don’t have to live from our “cat” or “dog” – our passive meditation part or our frightened ego part – because there’s a third part of ourselves here on this porch.
It’s a beautiful woman – you – in beautiful but comfortable clothes. I see mine in a gauzy white dress, but your higher Self will be wearing whatever you imagine her to be.
She’s setting on the steps, in front of her beloved pets.
She’s waiting. Patiently, calmly, but with an edge of excitement for what might come down the path at any moment.
She’s not sure what it is, but she senses it could be really good.
She knows when it comes walking up the path, her cat might yawn and go back to sleep, and her dog will struggle against its chains trying to attack.
She’ll recognize they’re trying to be helpful – but she won’t let them be in charge.
She listen inward, and if it feels authentic, meaningful, and aligned with her purpose, if it draws her forward into an experience of her own fullness, she’ll say YES.
The “Ma” in Evolutionary Spirituality
What helps us birth ourselves is the same thing that helps us support a beautiful, authentic, meaningful birth: slowing down. Listening in. Honoring what we hear.
Incorporating daily practices that help us stay connected to whatever we want to call it – Consciousness, nature, universal intelligence or our Inner GPS – that from within, guides us forward.
Meditating to make space for – and pay attention to – our deepest desires.
Remembering that these are not just personal, but the feminine rising in so many areas – a reconnection bringing us together with each other, with nature, and with ourselves.
Lack of clarity about our next step is only a temporary obstacle, remedied by nurturing ourselves, loving ourselves, and listening to ourselves on the deepest levels.
Honor your passive cat and your fearful dog. They are there to help you.
But sit on that porch a little bit on the edge, and ready for what’s next. Be calmly alert to what might show up inviting you forward.
And if you get a “yes”, if you feel that it’s what you’ve been longing for – let the dog bark, and the cat sleep.
Stand up, take its arm, and walk forward into our future.