“Feelings of contentment become little more than pretty shells for vulnerability and fear when viewed as ‘things we have’ rather than ‘things that are.'”

The MINDFUL Spiral of Growth

The MINDFUL Spiral of Growth is the transformative process of Meditation, Insight, Non-attachment, Discernment, Form, Understanding, and Living that unfolds naturally and continuously with sustained practice. Each stage leads to the next, but also informs and develops the others as our insight deepens and widens.

Below is a high-level overview of the seven stages. The full framework consists of a 63-cell matrix; each stage is divided into inner, middle, and outer aspects of insight, and each of the resulting 21 aspects are divided into three common characteristics of development. You may choose to systematically explore the framework, but this is not necessary for your practice to grow in alignment with it.


Mindfulness Meditation

We always begin here, remembering to hold in mind skillful intentions. The practice of anapanasati (mindfulness of breathing) provides a solid foundation for the rest of the spiral to develop upward and outward.


Done properly, our mindfulness meditation practice allows things to settle, and we begin to experience clearer seeing. Through vipassana (insight meditation), we recognize the patterns, themes, and connections interweaving our lives and relationships.


Having seen how we’re really living, we discover the roots of our suffering. While non-attachment is often confused with apathy, ambivalence, or being distanced from life, it actually opens the door to finally be fully engaged and alive.


“Judgment” has become a loaded word; when based on attachment, it’s associated with derision and condemnation. Crossing the threshold of non-attachment allows us to properly assess situations, possibilities, and outcomes through discernment.


Skillful form really kicks life into high gear. “Form” in this context refers to observable changes in our behavior. When our thought, speech, and action are inFORMed by our discernment, our internal changes have tangible, noticeable effects on the outside world.


“Knowledge” is comprehending that a tomato is a fruit; “wisdom” is not putting it in fruit salad. The understanding achieved by seeing the results of our form is wisdom, a deep conviction earned by felt and observed direct experience.


Our new understanding shows us the difference between how we were living and how we can live. We’ve tasted our transformative power, and this becomes a sustainable fuel for our practice as the previous six stages of the MINDFUL spiral grow into a whole greater than the sum of its parts.

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