Growing up through stages is often depicted in a stair step image.

You begin at a baby stage, and then take a step up to a toddler stage, then to a preteen, an adolescent, an early adult, and finally as an elder you make it to the top of the stair case, or the mountain top, or whatever hierarchical image we might have for development.

With the STAGES model, we like to use a different metaphor—that of a balloon. A baby is a completely formed human in all ways…they see, hear, smell, touch, taste and learn just like everyone else does.

All they need to do is to use their senses to begin to blow up their balloon in a balanced shape, and as they do, the balloon gets larger and larger and larger, kind of like the Universe did in the big bang.

We can continue to develop the robustness of the stage we are in and have a long skinny horizontal balloon. This is a lot of full-bodiedness, but all you might be able to engage with is a few inches from the ground. It would be nice to be able to engage from more height as well.

We can also see when our developmental balloon is a tall skinny vertical one. It easily topples over, just as we do if we skip from stage to stage without taking care of our shadows along the way or don’t develop with fullness and the robustness of the stage we are in. Thus, we may be able to see certain things that others don’t but living them into the full immanence of the person we could be, is missing.

Practices for a Robust Round Balloon

On the other hand if you want to blow up your balloon, develop both vertical practices and horizontal practices.

  1. See a shadow practitioner to help you confront the shadows that act as a ball and chain on your development and expression in the world.
  2. Knowing about development is “psychoactive,” according to Ken Wilber, so just knowing about the stages and studying their descriptions can help you develop.
  3. As well since everything comes in through your senses, make them as robust as possible. Seeing, hearing, touching; visualizing, listening, emotions; presencing, attunement, witnessing. Grow them up.
  4. And don’t forget the practices of zooming in (concentration, focus, paying attention) and zooming out (awareness, awareness-of-awareness, witnessing).

These practices will help you blow up your balloon in a healthy robust way.