Discussion Questions, Storytelling, Sharing

  • To open your discussion of this spiritual practice, point out that transformation means it is possible to do a "new thing." What would that be for each of you?
  • Share the story of a transformative experience, one you came out of feeling like a different person. It might be an encounter with a person, a story, or a work of art; an occasion of intense joy, sorrow, or pain; or a time when you faced an illness or another challenge that resulted in your making changes in your life.

Imagery Exercise

Images of transformation are often idiosyncratic; what precipitates change for one person may not do the same for others. Here are three different exercises; the first was created by Colette Aboulker-Muscat and the other two by us. You can try any or all of them. The title reflects the intention.

"Opening to Possibilities": Close your eyes and breathe out three times. Find yourself in a cocoon, knowing how it feels to be in there and how much you can move around. Now break the cocoon and find your way out. Begin to stretch and with each movement emit a sound. Sense all the different ways your body is stretching and sounding. When you are finished, open your eyes.

"Getting Unstuck": Close your eyes and breathe out three times. See yourself stuck in a hole in the ground. Using a little golden spade, a golden shovel, or a golden backhoe (whatever you need), dig yourself out of that place. Then open your eyes.

"Changing through Difficulties": Close your eyes and breathe out three times. See yourself as a gem being polished through friction. Know that through your trials and difficulties you are being made to shine. Then open your eyes.

Journal Exercises

  • Draw a "Life Map" in your journal using any combination of straight, curved, solid and broken lines. When do you turn or spiral back into an earlier pattern? Experiment with using different color pens for the various periods of your life. Include images to mark significant milestones on your journey, as well as events you now recognize as stepping stones to where you are now. Circle the major points of transition and put gold stars around transformations.
  • List changes you would like to make. Then write a dialogue with a change trying to make its way into your life. Find out what it wants and express your reaction to the possibilities it offers you.
  • Caroline Casey in Making the Gods Work for You describes one of the common side-effects of transformation — the "sunset effect." As a pattern goes down, it glows most vividly. "Just before people are ready to change," she writes, "they often thrash around, saying, 'I've already worked through these issues, so why am I dealing with all this again?' The answer is, 'These issues are coming up against because you've almost resolved them.' " Look through your journal for examples of the sunset effect. What change was coming?