By Life Positive September 1998 Personal growth is the process of unfolding your full potential and achieving what you came to the earth for. Life Positive offers you some unique personal growth exercises from the world’s best teachers and systems ‘We have made thee, Adam, neither mortal nor immortal, so that with freedom of choice and with honor, thou mayest fashion thyself in whatever shape thou shalt prefer…’—Pico della Mirandola, Italian humanist, 15th century ‘All the evidence that we have indicates that in practically every human being there is an active will towards health, an impulse towards… the actualization of human potentialities…’—Abraham Maslow, American psychologist, 20th century From Pico to Maslow, and much before them, the recognition of Man’s immense potential, the spark of the divine in him, has remained a constant factor. And so has the bewilderment with humanity’s tendency to stop evolving or, worse, regressing. There have been exceptions like the Buddha or Christ. However, instead of learning the mantra of evolution from them, we have been content in idolizing them as gods or demigods. It is not that we are unaware of the infinity and eternity within. As Maslow states: ‘We enjoy and even thrill to the godlike possibilities we see in ourselves in our most perfect moments, under conditions of greatest courage.’ But where does this thrill go once that moment is past? Perhaps the solution lies in consciously striving for personal growth. Each area of your life that you are able to improve becomes a tributary that meets life’s stream, making it a roaring river that eventually merges in the ocean, call it God or Universe. Personal growth, you may like to say, is holistic growth, which is not different from spiritual growth. Personal growth is by definition individual specific. Hence there is no place for panaceas and generalizations. Yet, this article suggests some widely applicable methods and techniques that you can try and benefit from. But keep in mind that only keen desire and persistent efforts pay dividends. You can gauge your growth when you see your Self reflected in everything you do. The simplest, but not necessarily the easiest, technique is to be aware of everything you do during the day: even mundane acts like brushing your teeth or eating. This inevitably brings you to the present moment, the eternal moment, putting you in a meditative state. You may as well ask: ‘I think my life is looking up fine. So, what’s there for me in this personal growth business?’ True. Tangible, material benefits may not be apparent, but they always follow. The least that can be said is that your life will start to flow seamlessly: whether it is relationships, mental health or work fronts. You will also be able to tap reserves of energy that you didn’t know existed, to accomplish whatever you want to accomplish. RAISE ENERGY All your activities are governed by the energy within the body. In most cases, listlessness, sloth and ill-health result from a decline in energy levels. According to Subhas Patri, a mystic based in the southern Indian temple town of Tirupati, people often overburden themselves by indulging in unnecessary activities. Following are some tips from Patri on various aspects of life that may help enhance your energy levels: Communication• Maintain ‘verbal’ silence as much as possible. Speak only when necessary.• Speak briefly, to the point and in a simple and easily understandable language.• Don’t go for style; give more credence to clarity. Seeing• Almost 80 percent of your energy is used up in the activity of seeing. Keep your eyes open only when the work you are doing requires sight or when you want to observe what is happening around you.• When there is nothing important to see, keep your eyes closed and mentally begin observing your breath.• While talking to somebody, look straight into the eyes of the other person. Sleeping• Observe your breathing pattern while going to sleep at night.• Learn to sleep while sitting.• Your daily sleep requirement should come in two or three doses in a day-night cycle. Try and take an afternoon siesta every day. PSYCHOSYNTHESIS An amalgamation of various psychotherapy doctrines, psychosynthesis has been considered a practical and viable method involving various personal growth techniques. Developed by psychologist Roberto Assagioli, it aims to ‘release or, let us say, help to release, the energies of the Self’. These are some psychosynthesis exercises for exalting Selfhood: Training the Will • Vividly visualize all the unfortunate incidents which have occurred in your life as a result of your inadequate will. Examine each incident carefully, formulating them clearly and then make a list of them. Allow yourself to be affected by the feelings, which these recollections arouse—shame, dissatisfaction with yourself, regret, and the desire to change. • Visualize the advantages of a stronger will. Examine and formulate all the benefits and satisfactions and write them down. Allow yourself to feel the joy of these benefits, the intense desire to realize them and the strong impulse to begin at once. • Finally, visualize yourself as being possessed of a strong and persistent will. See yourself walking with a firm step, acting in various situations with decision, concentration of effort, persistence and self-control. Visualize yourself successfully attaining the desired ends. Evoking Serenity • Assume a physical attitude of serenity. Relax all muscular and nervous tension. Breathe slowly and rhythmically. Express serenity on your face with a smile. • Try to feel serene by repeating the word or some appropriate sentence. • Imagine yourself in circumstances that would tend to agitate or irritate you; for instance, being in the midst of an excited crowd or confronting a hostile person. See and feel yourself calm and serene in such circumstances. PERFECT SENSES Seek in the Dark In your childhood, many of you must have played a game called ‘Dark Room’—hide-and-seek in the dark. This exercise is quite similar to that game, except that here you don’t have to hide, merely seek. Blindfold yourself in a dark room and try to locate various objects without having to feel around. Increase the degree of difficulty progressively, taking care against any physical harm. Seeing in the dark improves your level of visualization and concentration. It also makes you more alert and aware about your environment. Your capacity to observe more at a glance also increases. Watch What You See Start with this simple exercise: walk through a room and list in detail all that is there in the room. Progressively reduce the time spent walking through the room. Gradually, increase your field of observation to more and more complicated pictures and reduce the time spent in observing them—till you reach a point where you can see the full details of anything with your mind’s eye at a mere glance. Fast and comprehensive observation gives you a headstart when it comes to making split-second decisions. As a result, instead of reacting, you can take preemptive actions. This exercise improves your concentration. Use The Other Hand This exercise helps you utilize both the left and the right side of your brain. In the process, you acquire a balanced approach and a sharpened focus to life. Do it at least thrice a day, consciously, for 10 minutes. For right-handers, this would mean using the left hand and for left-handers the right. This exercise can be extended to even doing things differently, say reading a letter reflected off a mirror. MAGICAL PASSES Tensegrity—this is how best-selling author Carlos Castaneda describes the magical passes of the shamans of Mexico. Tensegrity is a mixture of two terms, tension and integrity. These exercises, according to Castaneda, lead to a redeployment of your energy in the body and a state of inner silence. This, in turn, creates a level of awareness where knowing is automatic and instantaneous. The following exercises have been taken from the book Magical Passes by Castaneda: Foot Circles Put your body’s weight on the right leg. Place your left foot half a step in front of it, and slide it on the floor, drawing a half circle to the left, so that the ball comes to rest almost touching your right heel. From there, draw another half circle to the back. Reverse the movement, from back to front. Scarecrow In The Wind Extend your arms laterally at shoulder level with elbows bent and forearms dangling downward. Let your forearms swing freely from side to side. Push Energy Backward Bend your elbows and hold the forearms tightly against the sides of your body. Extend the forearm downward and backward as high as possible. Bend slightly forward and exhale. As you inhale, bring arms back to the sides. Now reverse the movement. Pivot the Forearm Hold your arms in front of the body, with elbows bent and forearms vertical. Bend your hands, cupped to resemble the head of a bird, at the wrist towards your face. Now flip the wrists back and forth, pivoting on the forearms. Move Energy in Ripples Keeping your knees straight, stoop down, with arms dangling by your side. Move the left arm forward with three ripples of the hand. Then cut across the front of your body with the same hand, first left to right and then reverse. Then move the hand back with three more ripples. SACRED PSYCHOLOGY Developed by personal growth trainer Jean Houston, sacred psychology “assumes that one’s fullest realization comes from the living experience of union with God, which is then expressed through the forms of daily life”. In other
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