Spiritual Networks


Allow the surprise – and be ready for it!
What you feel is the value of your life. It’s worth a little work!

Exercises for Gathering Emotional Wisdom regarding
the third Cycle, Dignity

Here is a brief description of each Core Emotion, accompanied by its synonyms.


Admiration is the receptive encouragement of the Student: pleasure in the perception of progress, without any active effort at the moment. I am not “doing” anything, and yet I am moving forward. It happens by simply being receptive to the ways of another. I see another’s abilities as a doorway to my own. As I see the other doing it, I can feel myself doing it.

Synonyms for Admiration: charged, empowered, inspired, emboldened, responsive, receptive, attentive, amenable, pensive, introspective, heedful, mindful, observant, open minded, open to influence, flexible (verbs: like, imitate, pattern, copy, simulate, emulate, heed).


Humility is the receptive frustration of the Student. It says this is me. It’s not a passive resignation opening a slide into powerlessness and depression. It’s a heart and mind open to learning. Humility is truth. Reality testing. Accepting what is. Humility helps frustration to pass by accepting limits. It accepts not knowing in order to be receptive to learning. It gets something done by doing nothing. Humility knows that nothing changes until it is accepted as it is.

Synonyms for Humility: exhausted, discouraged, convinced, tired, weary, awkward, demoralized, undone, finished, relieved, done, mistaken, resigned, defeated, satisfied, worn out, responsible, uncertain (verbs: quit, stop, yield, concede, rest, back off, ease up, let go, take a break, reconsider). Time out. ENOUGH FOR NOW!


Defiance is the expressive frustration of the Guide. It is the truth setting me free. With it I break out of the grip that allows others to have power over me. I claim the authority to say who I am. I am the author of my words and actions. You do not get to tell me how to think or feel, nor what to do. My choices reveal who I am. Only I can make them. I risk your displeasure if necessary. Defiance means I dare to be different, to differentiate myself from you. When something really matters to me I do not give it up easily. Defiance is often the way I persevere.

Synonyms for Defiance: daring, brave, impudent, impertinent, courageous, adamant, passionate, stubborn, adventurous, challenged, indignant, contrary, oppositional, willful, aggressive, impatient, unwilling, resistant, stubborn, unyielding, rebellious, headstrong, inflexible, belligerent, antagonistic (verbs: risk, stretch, hurry, resist, oppose, refuse, must, have to, overcome, test the limits, interrupt, veto, disagree, differ, challenge: differentiate!)


Confidence is the expressive encouragement of the Guide. It is how I feel when I am doing what I want. I’m doing it the way I want to be doing it. My actions are matching my intentions. This does not necessarily mean I have arrived. It does mean that each step I am taking tells me I am making progress. Confidence prolongs encouragement. I am on the way. I am willing to do whatever it takes. Confidence is the energy in my love for my goal – whatever it is that I want – and this energy carries me through my fearful doubts and whatever frustration they come up against. I am doing it. I can.

Synonyms for Confidence: strong, smart, capable, influential, powerful, brilliant, positive, certain, sure, proud, jubilant, independent, successful, valiant, triumphant, satisfied, adequate, on a roll, talented, productive, prosperous, genuine, sincere, authentic, responsible, expressive, honest, true, truthful, candid, frank, free, earnest, self-respecting, modest, self-possessed, congruent; (verbs: articulate, announce, influence, self-disclose, show & tell, achieve, manage, manifest, do, say, act, actualize, operate, reveal, define, direct, succeed, claim, comment, determine, execute)


    This exercise invites you to explore your relative comfort with the Core Emotions in the Cycle of Dignity.

    1. Choose one Core Emotion at a time, peruse the definitions and synonyms provided above, and choose a specific word from the list, one that draws your curiosity at the moment. Reflect on specific experiences of this feeling, and, using the following chart, identify the degree of your Emotional Availability. Repeat for as many feelings and variations as draw your curiosity.




      about past experience

      Feel now
      within my body

      to another while
      feeling it now

      (don’t acknowledge:
      Invalidate the feeling)





      (feel it, validate the feeling, though challenging to do so)






      (feel it with natural, flowing ease)








    2. Gather your Emotional Wisdom: summarize what you learn about yourself with regard to each particular Core Emotion.
    3. How satisfied are you with the degree of your Emotional Availability? If you’d like to increase your emotional comfort zone, proceed to the next exercise.

    This exercise gives you a way to explore the history of your experience with any given emotion. The more you appreciate the roots of a feeling, the more you can make yourself at home with it, the more it can become a source of wisdom for ever better choices.

      I use a meditation exercise to get my awareness centered (5 minutes).  How am I feeling now, as I begin?
    2. FOCUS
      I browse through the list of feelings, carefully sensing which feeling word holds energy for me. Which stirs my curiosity, draws me into further exploration?
        I search my memory for my recollection of my most recent experience of the emotion which I wish to explore.  I let my memory and imagination recreate the event which generated the emotion.  Factual recall is not necessary. I let myself imagine the event vividly, as if it were happening now.  I allow myself to notice all the elements of my experience (Reason, Imagine, Feel, Sense).  When the Experience is complete, I identify its important elements on a blank page, perhaps even writing a comprehensive narrative of the event.
        I let my awareness regress through time to explore other past events which generated this emotion.  I stop at two or three which stand out with some clarity.  I allow myself, as in part a), above, to vividly process each event.  Upon completion of each recollection, I note its elements in the same manner as used in part a).
        I let go of all of the above awareness and imagine I am traveling further back in time.  I let images of experience roll by until I am at my earliest recollection of the emotion of interest.  I allow myself to vividly process the event where this emotion was first generated (as far as I know at this time).  I attend to each element of the experience as though to a sacred revelation.  Finally, I note significant elements of this experience as above.
      Now I review the fruits of my reflection.  I allow myself to really 'get a feel' for this emotion.  I imagine myself in a future event, experiencing the emotion.  What is the storyline?  What might be a core image or metaphor?  How might I artistically represent this image?  What physical positioning or movement seems to belong with this image?  Finally, I put my body into the imagined position, allowing the energy to move and sound to be made until I am more fully appreciating the embodied wonder of this emotion.
      What have I learned about myself with regard to this feeling?  What patterns do I notice?  How have some patterns changed across time?  To what extent do I allow my inner awareness and/or outer expression of this feeling?  What ways do I have in my body or mind of avoiding it? What new choices am I making now about relational challenges in my life?  What few words hold the core of my learning?  How might I use this mantra/belief/affirmation to deepen my access to this emotion?
      What might you add to, or notice in your experience of, each of the above steps, that would support your awareness of your relationship with the divine?

      **NOTE: If I am unable to find sufficient memories (clarity or number), I can simply allow my imagination to create events as if they once happened or are now happening.  This will still inform me as to where I am with the emotion.  I can also consider vicarious experience, where I witnessed someone else's experience in a way that affected me.

  3. CORE EMOTIONS: further reflection

    1. ADMIRATION: That’s how I want to be!

      • Who have I wanted to be like? How have they showed me how I can be the best of myself? Who do I currently admire, and what do they show me about myself?
      • Who has inspired me, or currently inspires me, to believe in my own abilities? How have I changed thanks to their influence?
      • Who have I idealized in such a way as to undermine my own abilities? What might I do to change this? How does admiration differ from idealization?
      • Who has shown me, or currently shows me, what is really worth wanting? Really worth working for? Who has shown me what really makes life worth living? How much have I let myself internalize this wisdom? What challenge calls to me?
      • Who has shown me, or currently shows me, how to do what I really want to do? How to go about getting what I really want? Who has shown me the way to achieve my goals? How much have I internalized this wisdom? What challenge calls to me?
    2. HUMILITY: What limit is teaching me now?

      • What are recent examples of needing to admit that “I don’t know”? What do I do when I come against the limits of my knowledge or understanding of what is happening?
      • What are recent examples of my response when I come up against the limits of my energy? How is it for me when I need to acknowledge “that’s all I can do for now”? How comfortable am I with admitting that I am exhausted? With giving myself needed rest?
      • In what ways or situations am I trying to do too much too fast?
      • When I come up against my limits how willing am I to ask myself if what I am doing is really worth all the effort? What more important goals might I be sacrificing in order to push through the frustration I am facing?
      • Who might I turn to for help when frustration gets the better of me? How willing am I to seek help?
      • What are some examples of mistakes or setbacks from which I have learned? How have I been better off as a result of any given mistake?
    3. DEFIANCE: You do not define me!

      • What limits have I recently faced – and challenged? In what situations have I cared so much about what I wanted that I refused to let frustration hold me back?
      • What obstacles am I currently facing (or recently faced) that are blocking my progress to an important goal? How did I, or do I need to, rise to this challenge?
      • What fear is getting in the way of my progress? How can I face it – and overcome it?
      • How have I chosen to be different from what is expected or approved? How have I refused to let others define me? How have I taken a stand that was different from those around me?
      • What are the values or beliefs, in the name of which, I have been willing to differ with others, whether in word or deed?
    4. CONFIDENCE: I am doing it!!!

      • In what ways am I making progress toward important goals? What steps have I accomplished that clearly identify my progress?
      • What small step or steps do I need to acknowledge, or might I take, in order to remain clear that I am moving toward my goal?
      • How do any of the specific steps I take toward important goals reveal a truth about who I am?
      • In what ways am I currently, in my day to day life, doing what I really want to be doing? How is my everyday life representative of what I value?
      • What accomplishments in my life have fed my confidence? What abilities and values can I own from these accomplishments?
      • What is the most important value or goal in my life, meaning the one that includes or embraces everything else that is important to me? What is that I am always intent upon accomplishing?

    Now that you have given yourself some familiarity with the Core Emotions of Faith, you are in a better position to give daily attention to these feelings. In our complex and fast paced lives, so much happens so fast that some of the feelings go unattended. The way to grow in Faith is to make a commitment to regularly noticing, experiencing, and processing these feelings.

      Use a meditation exercise to get your awareness centered. Bodyscan, Following the Breath, or Mindfulness can be useful here. The point is to become conscious of your embodied presence in the moment.
      Then spend time breathing while remembering the events of the day. Allow your awareness to sift slowly through your experiences as seen through the lens of the bonds you have experienced. Recall as many of the details as help each event to become real once again. Watch for any forms of these feelings: Hope, Sadness, Rage, Desire. Pause to acknowledge and honor your feelings, one at a time.

      Let yourself be present to each feeling as if the event were happening now. This means breathing with awareness of the energy of the feeling in your body, as well as thinking through the value that is highlighted by this feeling. If there is a particular feeling that is challenging for you to allow yourself to fully experience, review and use the Breathing a Feeling method from exercises in the Introductory chapter.
      As you acknowledge the meaning of each feeling, listen with care to what this feeling has to tell you about yourself, your relationships, and the ebb and flow or your bonds with others. Gather your learning, if you wish, in a journal.
      Many days you may notice an incompleteness to some experiences.

      • What has come into your awareness that requires further attention? What intention can you identify? What will you do to realize this intention? Perhaps the following exercise, Processing a Feeling, would help you to fill this out.
      • Perhaps your feelings tell you that something in one of your relationships requires further attention. Following the next exercise is another called Relational Review. It will help you process specific interpersonal experiences, and clarify where you go from here.
      What might you add to, or notice in your experience of, each of the above steps, that would support your awareness of your relationship with the divine?

    A step by step method for clarifying the meaning of a feeling so as to make a well informed choice what to do with its energy.

    Awareness + Choice = Personal Power

    EXPERIENCE ------------- UNDERSTAND -------------------- CHOOSE
    What’s happening?          What does it mean to me?          What do I do?

    Choose any feeling from the synonyms provided earlier, and reflect upon a specific experience of this feeling.

    1. Body: What am I aware of inside my body? How is the energy moving?
    2. Impulse: What do I feel like doing? If no thought held me back, what do I imagine myself doing?
    3. Meaning: What does my feeling tell me about what’s at stake for me? How is my relationship to what I care about affected?
    4. Options: What are the ways I might choose to express this feeling? What words and/or actions would identify the meaning of this feeling for me?
    5. Intention: What do I want to have happen as a result of my choice of expression of this feeling?
    6. Choice: I decide how to express (or keep private) the feeling.
    7. Learning: What happens as a result of my choice? How is my relationship to whatever I care about affected? What do I learn? What would I do differently next time?
    8. Spirituality: What might you add to, or notice in your experience of, each of the above steps, that would support your awareness of your relationship with the divine?

    This exercise helps you explore specific relationships in terms of the interactive experience of the Dignity therein. There is much of value to be learned by following these steps with regard to significant relationships with authority during formative years (mother, father, teachers, religious leaders), as well as with regard to important friendships, past and present.

    Choose one specific relationship and reflect on your experience of it using the following questions. Repeat with regard to any relationship that has been important to you.

    1. Goals and Intentions:
      What was important to you at specific times during the course of the relationship? What did you want? Did your intentions change over time?
    2. Balance of Encouragement and Frustration:
      Identify specific events where your experience of the relationship encouraged your progress toward important goals. Do the same with regard to frustration.

      • What do you learn about the impact of this relationship on your belief in your ability to achieve your goals?
      • What patterns do you notice in the relationship over time? Did Encouragement or Frustration predominate at certain times, or even throughout most of the relationship?
      • How did you learn to accept or avoid responsibility for the consequences of your choices?
      • What do you learn about yourself in terms of how attentive you are to Encouragement, and what you might do to cultivate more of it?
      • What do you learn about yourself in terms of how attentive and responsive you are to Frustration? How might you more productively engage with it so that it becomes even more helpful in achieving your goals?
    3. Balance of Study and Assertion:
      Identify specific events where your experience of the relationship allowed you to Study ways to improve your progress toward important goals. Do the same with regard to ways that you took action to realize your intentions (Assertion).

      • How did you allow the other to be a Guide regarding what was really worth wanting, and how to go about getting it?
      • How were you assertive regarding what you wanted? What intentions did you realize over time?
      • How did you learn to accept or avoid responsibility for the consequences of your choices?
      • What do you learn about yourself in terms of being a Student regarding what helps make progress toward your goals? What might you do differently?
      • What do you learn about yourself in terms of being a Guide, taking initiative to make progress toward your goals? What might you do differently?
    4. Unfinished Business:
      Now take time to reflect on what there is in this relationship that requires further attention.

      • What is the overall impact of the relationship upon your Dignity, your ability to continue improving the value and effectiveness of your choices?
      • What patterns do you notice that you would like to change? Are these changes specific to this relationship, or related to how you are in many relationships? How will you go about making the changes?
      • Would it help to talk this through within this specific relationship? Is there someone else with whom you might consult?
      • What do you learn about your choice of intentions, about what is really worth wanting?
      • What do you learn about your choice of methods, about how you go about getting what you want?
    5. Spirituality:

      • What might you add to, or notice in your experience of, each of the above questions, that would support your awareness of your relationship with the divine?

    A way to stay current with what is happening for me in any significant relationship, to learn about myself, and to take what I’ve learned back into the relationship.

    I use a meditation exercise to get my awareness centered. Then I spend time remembering what happened in recent memory. I choose one specific experience that involves my Dignity in relationship with another person, an experience where further reflection might help me to learn about myself.


      I write a description of the relational event I have chosen, identifying what actually happened, in terms of what I observed outside myself (Sensing), as well as what happened inside me (Thinking and Feeling). I write this as a story, including all the information that has value in understanding what happened.
    2. REFLECT

      • How am I feeling right now, as I begin to write this review? How do I understand this feeling?
      • How does the interpersonal event described above represent a pattern in my way of relating? (Situation … Organism … Response … Consequences).
      • What are the roots of this pattern? Where does it come from in my history?
      • What else have I learned about myself?
      • How do I understand myself in relationship to the significant other in the current interpersonal event?
      • What impressions have I formed about the other? What have I come to notice in terms of their personality, personal characteristics, behavior patterns?
      • How am I feeling toward this other as a result of this event?
    3. DECIDE

      • How do I take what I've learned here back into the relationship? What is my intention? What will I actually do?
      • How am I feeling now as I end this review? How do I understand this feeling?

    Flexibility & Attention Keep Improving My Choices


    What is it that I want to happen? How is it about pleasure lasting and/or pain passing?

    What do I actually do to realize my intention?
    What are my plans?

    What are the results? (Costs & Benefits, including my feelings; short term & long term)

    How do the consequences compare with my intention?
    Encouragement? Frustration?

    How might I revise my intention or my methods? Who might I consult or observe?






























    Look back through your experiences with the above practices. Open your heart, soul, and mind to what you may discover in terms of the following:

    • In what ways have you directly experienced the presence of divinity within your own body?
    • How have you connected with the divine presence in one (or more) other person(s)?
    • Where and how have you experienced your connection with the divine Spirit in your surroundings?
    • If you let Spirit speak to you through these experiences, what do you learn about the meaning of your life, and how do you feel about it?
    • What challenges call you to make changes in your life so as to be more fully alive in Spirit?
    • How do your experiences connect with stories, quotations, wisdom from the faith tradition(s) with which you currently identify?

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