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Meditation for personal growth

Meditation for personal growth is your most important personal development tool. When we meditate, we quiet the torrent of thoughts that typically occupy our minds (the dreaded “monkey mind”). A host of physical, emotional, and mental benefits stem from this improved state of being.

Even short meditations, if practiced regularly and faithfully, will calm our minds and give us new insights into ourselves and the world around us. A meditation practice thus becomes the bedrock on which all of our personal growth rests.

Fortunately, much of humankind has grasped the great benefits of meditation so finding resources that match your taste is not hard. The difficulty is sticking to your practice once you’ve begun. Results take time. Have faith that your meditation practice will reward you in ways you may not have imagined.

A good life coach will insist that you meditate regularly. I ask all of my coaching clients to dedicate at least 20 minutes per day to meditation for personal growth.

meditation for personal growth

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The benefits of meditation for personal growth

There is an extensive body of research proving the benefits of a meditation practice. These include:

  • Stress reduction
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Improved immune function
  • Improved quality of life
  • Improved cognitive speed
  • Improved mood and decreased anxiety
  • Slowing of brain aging
  • Increase cerebral blood flow
  • Increase neuroplasticity
  • Improved emotional control

Less stress, better mood, better health, and more life satisfaction? If that's not worth twenty minutes of your day, what is?

How to meditate

When meditating for personal growth, the goal is not to over think. So let's start by not over thinking HOW to meditate!

Going by the book, the best time to meditate is when your mind is transitioning from the sleep to waking state or back again. This occurs twice a day: when we rise, and before we retire for the night. I find morning is best, because my mind and body are rising in energy to greet the day. If I meditate too close to bedtime I fall asleep! But that's just me.

That said, the absolute best time to meditate is WHENEVER YOU HAVE TIME TO MEDITATE. Not meditating because it's not the perfect time defeats the purpose!

monkey mindMind chatter gone haywire!

Meditation is simultaneously simple and difficult. Simple because it involves only you and your mind, and difficult because it asks for dedication and consistency to get results.

OK. With that said, here's how to meditate! Find a quiet place and sit or lie comfortably. Set a timer for twenty minutes. Typically, your mind will be full of thoughts, opinions, judgments, and to-do list items. This is normal: our mind doing what it normally does.

Quiet your mind, and observe your breathing. When thoughts arise, as they inevitably will, practice letting them pass by not responding to them. Meditation's benefits arise from detaching from these thoughts.

In time you'll be able to observe your thoughts as a detached observer. It's a really cool feeling to gain the upper hand over your mind chatter!

"Through meditation, we acquire and eventually acknowledge our connection to an inner power source that has the ability to transform our outer world." - Julia Cameron

When your twenty minutes are up, go back to whatever it is you were doing!

meditation for personal growth

Guided meditation

Guided meditation is the opposite of silent meditation. It's where we meditate to spoken words that lead us into a relaxed state.

Guided meditation typically addresses a specific need, such as improving sleep, reducing anxiety, or improving our relationship to money. I use guided meditations to coach clients working to clear limiting beliefs.

This practice is very similar to induced hypnosis. The objective is the same: get the subject into a super-relaxed state so that suggestions can access the subconscious.

There are countless options to making this work. You can have another person speak the script, or use a recording. Many people like recording their own voice for later replay. You can find sample texts by searching for "induction scripts for [your specific issue]" online. Or write your own if you don't find what you're looking for!

When reading or speaking a guided meditation script, slow down your normal speaking pace, and speak in a monotone, using occasional inflection to highlight key passages.

meditation for personal development

Mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness meditation is about giving our full attention to this moment, right here, right now. Being present, and in the present, without allowing thoughts about the past or future to intrude. It's a path to finding peace within ourselves, and with others.

Our minds tend to avoid the present moment. For most of our waking hours, we are not focused on where we are because we’re preoccupied with the past and future.  

But the present moment is the only thing we truly control! Past regrets or future fears are distractions that we set aside in a mindfulness practice.

Mindfulness meditation for personal growth extends beyond the few minutes we're actually sitting to our normal, active lives. We give every moment full attention, whether we're at work, with our kids, making a meal, or driving down the road. Mindfulness means slowing the pace of our thoughts, taking a break from the chatter and being attentive to the moment we're in right now.

In your mindfulness meditation, practice giving full attention to the sensations that arise while you're sitting quietly. Your breath, your heartbeat, the little aches and pains from sitting: all these things are in the moment, and fair game for our focus. Observe them without judgment, lest you invite in thoughts not connected to the present. Those are not welcome. This takes time to learn, so be patient with yourself as you practice. Good Luck!

meditation for personal growth

Alternatives to sitting meditation

Sitting meditation is not easy. Some people have difficulty remaining still for minutes on end. Although this gets easier with practice, it's good to have some alternative techniques up your sleeve for when you're unable to sit for an extended time.

Your meditation practice is highly personal, so use alternatives in addition to sitting meditation as you see fit. Remember our main goal is to gain control over our busy mind chatter, aka monkey mind. Here are some alternative methods for your consideration:

Walking meditation for personal growth

Walking meditation, by definition, is done alone. If you have a safe and inspiring place to walk close to where you live, go there! Before setting out, set an intention for yourself to pay close attention to the present moment, and observe your surroundings with heightened awareness. Use all of your senses. Stay in the moment! It's so easy for past or future thoughts to shoehorn their way in to our awareness. If you find this happening, let the thoughts pass and refocus on what's in front of you right here, right now.

You can practice mindfulness in anything that you do by concentrating fully on the task at hand, and on the present moment. Walking meditation strengthens our mindfulness skills at the same time we get some exercise and fresh air. Win-win!

walking meditation

The meditation labyrinth

Meditation labyrinths have been used since ancient times. They are spaces of concentrated energy and can be quiet magical. They've found favor solidly in the Christian mainstream, most notably in the famous 12-layer labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral in France.

Labyrinths are not the same as mazes, yet they still play tricks on our minds by leading us in directions we don't expect to go. This confusion quiets the conscious, judgmental part of our minds and allows access to the subconscious, a similar effect found in silent, stationary meditation for personal growth.

From labyrinth enthusiasts you'll hear the term "spiral in / spiral out". This evokes the image of a spring or coil being tightened (spiraling in), then released (spiraling out).

When entering the labyrinth, clear your mind of future or past concerns. Give full attention to each step you take. Feel energy build within you as you spiral in toward the center, and retain that energy when you reach the middle. I like to say a short prayer of gratitude before turning back and exiting the labyrinth, with deliberate steps, and slowly spiral out, releasing the energy I had built up on the entry.

Try labyrinth meditation and see why labyrinths are beloved the world over!

meditation labyrinthMeditation labyrinths can be as simple as this well-trodden version, or...
meditation formal as in Chartres Cathedral in France.

Mantra meditation

This is when we recite a short phrase out loud, over and over. The energetic content of the words communicates with our subconscious to promote healing, relaxation, or whatever goal we're after. Hindu meditators recite mantras in Sanskrit, the ancient language of South Asia. Traditionally, mantra meditation for personal growth is done while holding a mala, a circular string of 108 beads. We pass one bead from hand to hand as we recite each mantra cycle.

The literal meaning of mantras is less important than their energetic content. Particular sounds are believed to selectively affect our bodies' energy centers. It has to do with directed attention and strong intention.

Seed sounds evoke distinct associations to Hindu gods and goddesses and the life principles with which they're associated:

"Shreem" > Lakshmi, representing abundance
"Aim" > Saraswati, spiritual knowledge and education
"Duhm" > Durga, protector of seekers of truth and feminine power
"Kreem" > Kali, invocation to do inner work
"Haoum" > Shiva, expanded consciousness

Mantra phrases are built around these seed sounds to address particular needs. It's worth a deeper dive into the mechanics of mantra meditation, as it's a large and fascinating world with interesting insights and potentially rich rewards.

mantra meditation

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