Create the Life You Imagine ~ November 2019
The Three Triangle Model: Making Connections
“Everything we do is infused with the energy with which we do it. If we’re frantic, life will be frantic. If we’re peaceful, life will be peaceful. And so our goal in any situation becomes peace.”
~ Marianne Williamson
As we continue to work inside this three triangle model, remember that life is a developmental or evolutionary process. Ken Wilbur describes the developmental process of expanding spiritual awareness in three phases: Growing Up, Waking Up and then Cleaning Up. This is the developmental work we are all called to do as human beings. The first half of life is generally devoted to Growing Up and our energy is completely immersed in learning about ourselves and about the world in which we live. At some point, often at mid-life as we start to ask deeper questions about the meaning and purpose of life, or during a breaking open experience in the wake of great loss, trauma or struggle, we experience an expanded sense of ourselves that triggers us to Wake Up to our larger spiritual identity. In the true light of our expanded spiritual awareness, we experience real transformation in our consciousness and are then called to Clean Up the habits, beliefs, stories and expectations about life that were created through our early life experiences, in order to live more fully and consciously as spiritual beings in this human experience.
In the developmental model in the image above, we start on the right-hand side of the image with our awareness firmly anchored in the lower triangle and our identity tightly attached to the small self personality. At these early stages, we identify fully with our physical body (First Chakra), our emotional experiences (Second Chakra) and our mental stories (Third Chakra) that flow from our life experiences. These are the learning chapters of life where we make sense of how the world operates and how to navigate the planet to keep ourselves safe.
The “Pre-Me” Stage: Our first stage of development in this model is what I call the “Pre-Me” stage of awareness, and this stage generally runs from about ages 0-15. This stage is dominated by first and second chakra levels of consciousness. At this stage we are simply learning to physically and emotionally navigate life, and our awareness is wholly reactive to the outside world and to the events that happen to us. Our most important learning work at this stage is about whether we are physically safe in the world (First Chakra), and whether we are emotionally safe with other people who care about us and support us in healthy ways (Second Chakra). Like preemie babies, we are not well equipped at this stage of life to navigate the outside world with any real sense of balance or understanding, and are dependent on the help and support of other adults—parents, family, friends, teachers and mentors—to guide, protect and support us as we explore and learn about ourselves and the world.
The “Me” Stage: From the ages of about 16-25, as our pre-frontal lobes start to develop and we begin to navigate life as young adults, we move into what I call the “Me” stage of awareness. At this third chakra level of consciousness, our small self personality operates with more independence in life and starts to use our history of personal experiences to form the internal stories about ourselves and about life that drive our habits, beliefs, attitudes and choices. At this stage of awareness, we see ourselves as separate beings in a complex world and the underlying focus of this stage is to feel competent and capable of meeting the demands of life. By this stage of life, even if we have enjoyed safe, loving and supportive conditions in the Pre-Me Stage, we have bumped into enough challenges, difficulties or disappointments to develop some level of anxiety or fear about living life on our own. If we have had very difficult experiences in the first chapters of life, these inner narratives may become toxically negative about ourselves or our possibilities, and life may become a defensive exercise in protecting ourselves from the next threat rather than confidently and strategically meeting the next challenge. The more trauma we have experienced in life, the more difficult it may be to move beyond this self-protective state of survival consciousness, and many adults live much of their lives stuck in small self stories and in the cycles of anxiety, shame, guilt, self-doubt, and low self-esteem that make it difficult to move into higher levels of development and spiritual consciousness.
The “I” Stage: In middle adulthood, if we have been able to successfully navigate the earlier stages of life and have developed the confidence that we can meet the challenges of life with positive expectations and an open heart, we begin to live in closer alignment with our authentic strengths, gifts and talents, and make contact with that fifth chakra energy of our True Self and enter the "I" stage. At this stage of awareness, we are not fully grounded in our Upper Triangle spiritual consciousness, but we have developed a fairly integrated personality that allows us to direct our life in some regular contact with the flow of our Upper Triangle energy. At this early stage of our spiritual awareness, however, it’s easy to get tipped over and lose our sense of balance. We may still experience significant periods of struggle when life obstacles or challenges trigger our fear or trip up our sense of confidence about life, and we may find we frequently slide back down into the lower triangle, letting our small self stories take control.