While many of us have been trained to the idea of creating a vision for our life in terms of lifestyle, professional career, relationships, health, etc., few of us embrace the importance of forming an “ideal” of ourselves in terms of self-development or spiritual realization. Yet, the interesting fact that many fail to realize is that all other goals as activities or accomplishments of our life, depend on our personal development for achieving in a natural and automatic fashion. Our “life” is created out of our “self”. We are the creators of our life as a fundamental form of self-expression. By changing ourselves and acquiring new abilities, all other areas of our life change accordingly. If we try to change “areas of our life” without changing the part of ourselves that are naturally producing it, we struggle, become frustrated, and usually fail in the ultimate sense, often, without ever knowing why.
Another “fluffy comment” that’s popular these days is the idea that you’re “perfect just the way you are”. This idea is usually addressing various forms of judgment from other people, or self-esteem issues around “not being good enough”. Yet self-perfection, as a personal “ideal”, which is the ultimate and only real spiritual goal, is something we not only decide for ourselves, but are also fully responsible for executing. Nobody can develop us for us (intentionally), just as no one can heal us. All healing and self-growth is something only we can do for ourselves by how we use our mind to control our body, our behaviors, and activities that we naturally engage in. In much the same way we create a vision as an ultimate outcome, achieved through systematic steps and stages as goals necessary for achieving the outcome, we create an “ideal” of ourselves as “being the best we can be”, then aspire towards it by intentionally developing latent potential, healing emotional and psychological issues that prevent it, or being the way we want to be in terms of character and quality of consciousness.
Perfection can be thought of as taking an idea, and turning it into the ultimate form of that idea as an “ideal”. Perfection is whatever perfect means to us. No one else can tell us what perfection means, or what qualities we need to develop in order to be perfect. Perfection is a standard or quality of being. Our concept of self-perfection as our “ideal self”, is something that we must soul search in order to realize, then want it bad enough to devote ourselves to doing what it takes to become it. Our personal ideal has nothing to do with material possessions, wealth, status, or creating a self image that we portray to the world as a false image of how we’d like to be seen by others, but rather as an essential part of our true nature that’s developed internally, that becomes a natural part of our being. It comes by developing qualities that evolve our character to a higher level of awareness and self-control, which forms the foundation necessary for a whole series of positive changes to take place automatically as the natural offspring of new qualities of consciousness. The most natural way to create in all areas of our life, is to start by consciously creating our “self”. Out of our self, comes everything else in an effortless and spontaneous way.
In many of the spiritual traditions, which are all focused on self-development from a moral perspective, they provide a system of understanding qualities of consciousness as possessing opposite yet complementary aspects of each other as vices and virtues. Vices are poor character traits that form weakness that lead to various forms of addictions and moral degradation, and are predominantly destructive in nature. Virtues are positive, opposite qualities of vices, which provide the means for transforming them. Virtues are qualities of higher levels of consciousness that are strengths, lead to growth and nourishment, and naturally produce very positive and constructive results in all areas of your life. Virtues are loving and unselfish in nature, and act naturally to produce a sense of harmony, pervading contentment, and happiness not only for ourselves, but for everyone involved. Virtues expand our awareness and increase our ability to both give and receive higher forms of knowledge and unconditional love.
Anytime we’re creating, we have to start with a vision of the desired outcome as an experience, so we know what the process for creating it will be. Though your ultimate vision for your ideal self may take many steps to accomplish, it’s important that you work on only one step at a time, and don’t start the next step until that one is well established and a part of your natural way of being (built into your subconscious). One of the ways we set ourselves up for failure, is by trying to take on too many things at one time creating a feeling of being overwhelmed and therefore struggling, or by scattering our energy in too many directions by trying to do too much all at once. Every acquisition of a new quality requires complete concentration and devoted practice over an extended period of time in order to “build it into the muscle”, where it becomes a natural way of being that no longer requires conscious effort.
Even with concentrated effort and a strong sense of discipline to stay with a task over a long period of time, you’ll relapse many times throughout the day by falling into habitual patterns that are well established and forgetting what you’re doing. This is natural, and when you realize you’re off task, simply re-center (remind) yourself in your desired intention, refocus your mind and adjust your mood, and continuing practicing. Repeatedly bring yourself back anytime you forget, and continue practicing without getting discouraged, and the new quality and behavior associated with it will begin taking hold, and you’ll be able to stay focused for longer and longer periods of time. All forms of intentional creation come from your ability to concentrate your efforts and stay focused on what it is you’re creating.
The approximate time for breaking one habit by replacing it with another, is forty days, or six weeks. The approximate time for simply establishing a new habit that doesn’t involve breaking an old one, is three weeks (half the time), or twenty one days, and it’s fully established (permanent) in six weeks. This gives you an idea of the amount of time you should plan on dedicating to each step of your development. You’ll also develop the ability to concentrate and stay with something for long periods of time, commit to devotional practice, and develop the patience it takes to accomplish a major feat (which a behavioral change is). You can consider your goal accomplished when you become that way automatically, and no longer have to think about it, or put conscious effort into it. All behaviors are “learned and conditioned” (trained), and likewise, can be unlearned and reconditioned. Our initial development was a predominately unconscious process, and all we’re doing here is making it a fully conscious process undertaken with a deliberate and determined attitude.
In order to realize what your ideal is, simply allow yourself to realize that an idea of who you really are, and how you’d like to be already exists inside of you as the qualities, talents, natural gifts, and interests that you naturally possess. No matter what stage of your life you’re at, you’ve only brought a small portion of your “self” into expression, while the greater part of yourself as “potential” remains dormant inside of you. Parts of you may have been developed in a negative way through your initial conditioning, which you can transform into its positive opposite quality. For example, fear and cowardice (often displayed through anger or defensiveness), can be transformed by embodying courage and bravery in its place. Hatred and a sense of animosity, can be transformed with love and compassion. Whatever is the opposite quality is what’s used to transform an existing “bad quality” or “destructive tendency”. Every “quality”, which has a behavior inherent in it, exists in a dual state of complementary opposites (sympathy and antipathy) as a positive or negative expression of the same quality of consciousness. Just as “hot and cold” are degrees of the same thing, and light and dark are degrees of the same thing, love and hate, fear and courage, humility and confidence, are all degrees of the same thing, and its opposite can be used to transform it by degrees. In order to begin practicing, start with smaller things or ideas that don’t produce a strong emotional charge or aren’t intense in nature, and are therefore easier to manage, and gradually work your way up to ideas that trigger you emotionally causing reactive behaviors.
Our state-of-mind (quality of consciousness) is created by 3 aspects that are always in-sync with each other. These three aspects are what we focus on, what we tell ourselves about what we’re focused on that makes it mean something, and what we’re doing with our body. Our physiology is a direct reflection of our state-of-mind as our quality of consciousness that we’re employing at any given moment. If you can’t control your attention and thoughts, you can learn to control your body and how you’re behaving instead. We can employ a quality by modeling the behavior associated with it. Just like when we were kids, we play acted and pretended to be “like” our favorite characters and role models, we utilize the same techniques as adults. Pretend like you’re an actor acting out a certain character within a specific role.
If you want to develop confidence, for example, find someone that you consider confident and watch and study them. What is it that they’re doing that makes them “confident”? What’s their posture like, their attitude, body language, and how do they hold themselves? How do they speak, the tone, speed or rate, and emphasis? What are their facial expressions, demeanor, and idiosyncrasies? How do they dress? Study them, elicit their strategy, and then imitate the same way of being. Practice until you feel comfortable with it and incorporate your own style into it. Then practice being that way in general. Practice it as a normal way of being in all areas of your life. Notice that when you change how you’re acting, that you experience yourself in new ways. You feel different and sense yourself in a different way. Step into the feeling and embrace it with a new level of awareness. Allow yourself to kind of fall in love with how your feeling and being. Get off on it. Allow yourself to feel empowered by it, not in an arrogant or conceited way, but in an expressive, uninhibited and expansive way. Notice the freedom it allows and new levels of self-expression that are very powerful in terms of not only the freedom you feel, but the response you get from others who are forming an impression of you and admiring you. Be an actor in your own life, and take it all in. After a while, it’ll become natural and normal.
In order to acquire a quality by practicing and becoming it in mind and body, we have to have a good enough idea of what that quality is like in terms of attitude, emotions, demeanor and behaviors so that we can practice being that way by imitating it. Don’t worry that you’ll be “copying somebody”, because the process of imitating is what allows your own style to come forth, you simply need a starting point as a kind of template for producing it. Once you begin practicing, you’ll come into yourself in terms of being that way, and you’ll produce your own unique version of it. We need a channel of expression in order to “find” our own style for doing things. Your style for “being” exists within you like your fingerprint or signature, and simply needs to be awakened and given a channel for outward expression, until you start feeling comfortable and natural being that way. Keep in mind, you always feel a bit (or a lot) awkward and out of place, or “not yourself” at first, because it’s new and you’re not used to it. But just keep practicing as if you’re an actor in the “play of your life”, and after awhile it’ll start feeling completely natural to you, and you’ll begin automatically “feeling” that way, and perceiving life from that perspective. All it takes is dedicated practice and a spirit of renewal and self-realization by bringing forth parts of yourself that up to this point in your life, you’ve never really experienced before!
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About the author:
Dr. Linda is an expert in Spiritual Sciences and scholar of Hermetic Sciences and Ancient Wisdom traditions. She’s a professional educator and trainer for all areas of personal transformation, self-creation, mind development, and soul/spiritual evolution. She practices Integrative Medicine with a special emphasis on Psychology and Creative therapies. She conducts ongoing classes, Playshops, and Adventure Seminars, and is available for private or group training, mentoring, and speaking engagements.
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