Monday, May 01, 2006

Outcomes reported by SGN members

Outcomes affirmed by SGN members (reported by a survey in 1993):

Connection with the infinite through each other, sense of genuine caring for each other; Learning from other's centering, sharing, care and companionship; Acceptance of more than one way, learning from our diversity; Tolerance for humanness, our errors and dissonance; Feeling of the potential for growth and new understandings; Guidance with respect to individuality: each journey is unique; Frequent practice in the communication of valued thoughts & feelings; Commitment to working through misunderstandings and conflicts that arise; Learning to take risks to make ourselves vulnerable with each other; Sharing of responsibility--value placed on all offerings and gifts; Mutual respect for the process.. learning detachment from our personal agendas; Sharing insights from many sources: poetry, music, painting, dance, drama; Learning to bear with the unpleasant aspects of others, overcoming self-centeredness; The practice of listening skills and learning compassion from others; Learning to appreciate the value of silence and becoming quiet inside; Sharing stories & opportunity to share & develop personal gifts and talents; Open discussion of spiritual ideas, beliefs, with all questions being valued; Learning to accept my individuality and think for myself by seeing others do so; Studying books in common and discussing them, shared prayer; Developing a spiritual vision through the inspiration of others; Learning to be realistic. becoming grounded and practical and seeing reality more the way it is, instead of the way I want it to be.; Learning the ability to tolerate ambiguity and respect for God's time..."When the student is ready, the teacher will appear..."; The shared value of principle of Inner Guidance...accepting sacred space around us, between us and within us; More fun when we do this work with others, laughter, humor, joy, Etc.

SGN Process and Seasons of the Soul

The SGN Process and Seasons of the Soul.

Visitors can find the SGN process jarring and even discomforting upon the first visit. We aim to incorporate the best of all Wisdom traditions in a way that helps each person with the basic questions: Who Am I? Why Am I Here? and What is the Meaning of My Experience? Our exercises are aimed to help the individual come to new realizations concerning their own unique journeys. We have no doctrine to teach, except that each of us has direct access to Mystery, the Mystery of our own lives. We are present to assist each other and ourselves in this process.

If we consulted the wisdom keepers of all cultures over the millennia of human existence, we would learn there is no one recipe for spiritual growth. Nor could there be found a specific ritual for spiritual development. The paths of human spirituality are as varied as the people on them. But what we can find in search the wisdom of the ages are four processes, like seasons of the earth, which nurture the health of the human spirit.
• Centering: a time of solitude to quiet the heart, separate from distractions, and tune in to the voice of the higher Self.
• Emptying: Cleansing the mind and heart of releasing pre-occupations, old thoughts, habitual distractions, toxic attitudes, ego-perceptions, undue stress, etc. that occupies and obstructs one’s focus of attention, thus becoming a roadblock to one’s human potential.
• Grounding: Accessing one’s deeper self, feelings, intuitions, the particular wisdom of one’s own heart, in owning all of one’s parts and one’s history and temperament.
• Connecting: Two parts: Listening to others deep sharing without judgment, and sharing one’s own insight, passions, disappointments, and dreams: what moves our hearts.

These four processes done in community enrich the lives of all members of our collective community, offer grounding, hope and renewal for others. Like the seasons of our planet, these processes are both subtle and dynamic, comforting and challenging, and provide a sense of balance between the three sources of spiritual well being: relationships, values and a sense of meaningful purpose in life. Our weekly meetings and other regular activities are aimed at supporting and enhancing these exercises for all members. We take a closer look at each:

Seasons of the Soul
Autumn: Centering, Soul Searching
Winter: Emptying, Cleansing
Spring: Grounding, Intuition
Summer: Connecting, Sharing

Centering: We become still, quiet the mind, and enter the heart, by sitting calmly in quiet concentration. We unplug from the external world, becoming aware of our "monkey mind" jumping all over our internal world. We begin to explore the vast landscape of the human soul. Many wisdom traditions teach this process: Be still and know that I am God. (Psalms 46:10). The shorter days of autumn gently usher us into a more interior state of awareness of transitions.

Emptying: We house-clean our inner home of non-essentials, detaching, letting go, releasing everything which does not serve the ongoing growth of our souls. We can become aware of habitual distractions, even personal addictions and attachments. The emptying process, paralleling winter is the most difficult: a winter of discontent, a dark night of the senses or of soul. We become aware of and release our ego-attachments to make room for new ideas, insights, and enlightenment. Awareness arrives only from a deep internal quieting.

Grounding: A deep receptiveness follows the emptying process. This may be just a very deep quiet and peace, or a time of revelation and resolution with regard to relationships, experience, values or direction of one’s life. It is better not to expect anything to happen at this point, but to cultivate the deep awareness and receptiveness during one’s daily life and routine, what Buddhists call mindfulness, or intentionality, in all one’s doings. Journaling is sometimes used.

Connecting: We usually emerge from the three previous states in a new openness for listening and relationship. We have come to realize that we are constantly in relationship with everything and everybody, a deep association with people and nature: earth, trees, animals, and our environment. An acceptance of our inter-dependence on all of humanity and the natural world is embraced. We are invited to understand, to love and to share our own individuality and gifts.

In reconnecting with our deeper selves and with one another, we are invited to dissolve ego boundaries, avoid "turf" issues, and to build bridges. We can experience a new summons to become instruments of peace and caring for others. We accept and own the connection that already exists between all peoples and all the wisdom traditions. We are ready to discover and embrace that which is common to all the teachers of the wisdom tradition throughout the ages.

One of the distinctive features of our SGN process is that we believe and practice a discipleship of equals: all are learners and all are teachers. Paschal has named this Equalog, that is, a discussion between equals, not simply a back and forth exchange, which is the root meaning of the word dialogue. All decisions arise from a shared circle of leadership, appreciating the diversity of gifts among us. We believe that this is the grounding and the strength of our SGN process that has given us ongoing energy to provide our weekly support groups, our monthly days of recollection (third Saturdays 10-3), our quarterly retreats, our free lending library and newsletters, and our Many Faces of Spirit community conferences in Lexington.

SGN is a nonprofit educational organization. We do not charge for any events, but all are open to all comers. We accept donations for the out of pocket expenses for printing and mailing newsletters, and other bulletins.

11/7/01 pbb, Seaward, Oates

Brief History and Aims

The Spiritual Growth Network of Kentucky (SGN) was begun in 1989 to foster spiritual growth and guidance. It has evolved into a genuine community whose decision processes are based upon group consensus. Currently seven type of activities are regularly offered: weekly meeting, monthly Day of Recollection, monthly meeting for worship, quarterly retreats, an open steering committee, a monthly newsletter and a small free lending library. In eight years SGN has sponsored some 30 retreats and 54 Days of Recollection. The community supports itself by means of voluntary service and donations. No fees are charged.

SGN believes that every person has direct access to the divine, so shared silence in the Quaker tradition is employed to give time for the group to center from an inner source. This is the spiritual basis for our work together, with the belief also that each journey is instructive for others, that we are all disciples. SGN has developed a process for building community that was presented at the '92 FCM Baltimore Assembly. Much small group discussion is used, with a model of shared leadership without "expert power" or "position power." We were also participating members of the '93 World Parliament of Religions held in Chicago..

Themes of the SGN gatherings have been diverse and inclusive: Twelve Steps, Inner Divine Child, Feminine Spirituality, Images of God, Native American Spirituality, Our Addictive Culture, Friendship, Meditation, Healing, Liberation and Islamic Spirituality, Discernment, Telling your Story, etc.

A brochure of SGN can be obtained by sending a SASE business size, 52 cents postage to Paschal Baute, 4080 Lofgren Court, Lexington, KY 40509-9520. Ask also for a sample newsletter.

PREAMBLE, read at the beginning of each workshop.

Spiritual Growth Preamble

We come together to give and receive help, sharing experiences on our spiritual journey. Although we have each chosen our own methods and teachers for our personal path, we value being open to what others have to share.

Beyond words, methods, or creeds we gather to give each other our love, support and acceptance. We especially welcome those who may doubt or question our beliefs and practices, for we all have much to learn: none of us can presume to have the whole truth or final word about this Vast Mystery that is our existence. We recognize that we are each at unique points in our growth, and that what is appropriate for one of us, may not be for others. Our group purpose is not to push people to grown, but to create an environment and an atmosphere where each of us feels encouraged and empowered to grow at our own self-chosen pace.

In order to nourish and protect each other, we encourage confidentiality in our meetings. The depth at which we feel secure in disclosing ourselves depends on our level of mutual trust. When feedback seems appropriate, we strive to give and receive it thoughtfully, prayerfully, and in the leading of the Spirit. When grievances arise among us, we bring them into the light of open dialogue. We hold ourselves mutually accountable, and listen respectfully to each other. Thus we resolve our differences, forgive each other, and resume our relationship on our spiritual journey with a deeper understanding.

Many of us feel that sharing the teachings, practices and rituals of various denominations and spiritual systems enriches our personal path and contributes to the worldwide process of tolerance and understanding. If, however, you feel a any time that something being done in the group compromises your religious or spiritual principles, please let us know ,and feel free to step out and stand apart with respect for others. Be assured that the group has great respect for your personal choices, and that we will love you whether you agree with everything we choose to explore or not.

Sometimes in our spiritual growth work we experience pain, or emotional or physical disturbances. If you are experiencing anything of this nature, please share it with one or more of us privately. Times of discomfort have come to all of us in our growth, and we value the opportunity to help each other get through these growth pains.

Remember this is your group even though this may be your first meeting. No one person is officially in charge of our process. Our success depends upon each of us taking part in the group in every way we can. The only requirement for fruitful participation is an openness to growth and a willingness to be completely honest.

We welcome you to our gathering. We are happy that you have chosen to share with us your spiritual journey. May we all grow in love and understanding together.” This Preamble has been used for 17 years by the Spiritual Growth Network of Kentucky, For more information see blog at
or call 859.293.5302, Email