Self Improvement: YOU vs you
What is self improvement?
Self-Help is a popular section in any bookstore. It encompasses psychology, religion and spiritual paradigms. Topics in Self-Help range from financial growth to out of body experiences.
But what do YOU really need right now?
Notice I capitalized YOU. I’m not speaking to the little you. No, I’m speaking to the true YOU. YOU are more then your name. YOU are more than your job. What are YOU and how is it different from the little you?
The little self is the ego. Virtually every spiritual tradition I have ever belonged to (and it’s a long list) agrees that there is this egoic self that is the problem. Either it is the “enemy” or it is the “challenge.” But in all traditions, it is stated as something that needs to be overcome. This ego identifies itself with the physical body. It says “I am this, and you are that,” as well as “I am better then this than you, and worse than this then him.” It compares and contrasts. It is filled with fear of being less than someone else. It is scared of loosing what it has worked so hard to obtain.
In truth, that ego… it’s not you. Oh it uses your body and makes choices that are attributed to you, but it’s not you. What YOU are is entirely different. YOU are an emanation from the Divine Source. YOU are part of God and HE is in YOU right now.
I know it may not seem like it right now. Your little self might be clinging to this idea that you are some person sitting at a computer right now reading this. You have your set of troubles and your problems and you struggle against some force (scarcity, politics, environment, work, enemies, etc.) The ego does not want to accept that YOU are connected to God. As you grow closer to that concept the ego will become less and less – even to the point of vanishing. To the ego, that is permanent death. It will create all sorts of reasons you can’t do this. The ego will try and establish doubt and guilt or any other form of blockage so you stop right now and don’t continue on.
But YOU must continue on.
Now that YOU know the difference…
The reason you must recognize YOU, is that the real needs YOU have are different then the needs you has. Confusing? Ok, think of it like this: The ego says “I need money, sex, pleasure, joy, humiliate the other guy, laugh at others, hide from pain…” but YOU will have needs that fulfill YOUR life’s purpose. YOU never wants to harm another. YOU never wants to laugh, chide or humiliate others. YOU want to grow closer to the Divine. YOU have goals that are in motion right now, to get everything YOU need for your life’s purpose. This can include getting out of debt, healing needs, job changes… only YOU knows. Some needs may overlap what the ego wants. But in general the ego is all about fulfillment of the body it identifies with. A body that is going to die in less then 100 years. The real YOU identifies with God. It is eternal and alive forever. It doesn’t care about fame, greed and pleasure. It wants love, compassion and spiritual growth.
So how can we better ourselves?
First we need to be intuitively connected to our true self. We then will know what to work towards. If that goal is blocked from our conscious minds, that’s ok, we can still strive ahead – trusting in the Divine to provide what we need for our true self to grow in the best possible way, towards our life’s purpose.
Some tools you will need to start with right away are:
- Daily Meditation Practice
- Daily Affirmations
These tools will establish the right conditions for effective living. Meditation will open your mind intuitively to inner guidance. Daily affirmations will program your mind with thought forms that will return only good to your life.
Daily Meditation Practice
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I was introduced to meditation at an early age. For me it was awesome. I was initially drawn into the mystical path of meditation – seeking out of body experiences, inner guidance and so forth (those are trappings by the way, but it was how I thought as a teenager.) The real purpose of meditation is to put you in a constant stream of contact with the Divine Source.
As we grow towards that goal, we will start to notice this prompting … sometimes called intuition. We will mentally have a need, and suddenly it shows up… but rather then ignore the situation, we go with it and find our need is met in the process. Intuition can prompt us to help people in the best way possible. It also shows us the path towards our true purpose in life.
As we deepen the meditation practice, we will notice benefits to our daily life – such as inner peace, calmness, joy and less reaction to others.
How Often To Meditate
It is important to meditate daily. If possible, twice a day (morning and evening before bed.) Even better, to meditate throughout the day. However, that might be challenging and it is important not to get discouraged. So start where are you.
I prefer to get up earlier in the morning, and meditate before anyone in my house wakes up. If I will be meditating at night, I inform the family that I will be unavailable for 20-30min or so.
How Long to Meditate
You will start out slow if you are a beginner. Probably 10min will seem difficult if you are just starting out. While 10 min a day is better then 0 min a day, you will need to get to a point of deep meditation. This typically requires more time to get into such a mental state.
One group I studied with had a requirement of working up towards 2.5 hours of meditation a day. But really you can’t put a number on it. Only YOU know how long to meditate. Just don’t give up and do a pittance of meditation (5min) a day. That won’t really help much.
How To Meditate
I won’t begin to tell you that you must follow some set of rules to meditate properly. If you join a religion or spiritual group, they may provide such a list. I will simply guide you and explain what I do. In my past I have studied Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Mystical and Metaphysical forms of meditation. What I do today is somewhat metaphysical and less “religiously structured.”
How I meditate:
I start with a timer. Using a meditation timer on my smart phone, I set it to last 30min, with a timer to ring a gong (noise) every 10min. During the first phase of the meditation (first 10min), I watch my breath and sometimes focus my eyes on a candle flame on a table at eye height.
My preference is to sit in a half lotus posture, but you can sit in a chair, or full lotus, etc. Experiment with different seated positions to find the one that works best for you. Many teachers have told me to make sure my back is straight and my spine is not touching the back of a chair. I found that advice very useful.
During stage 1, I work on relaxing my muscles. I put attention on joints and muscles and relax them. Then I begin to watch my breath. At this stage my goal is to lower the surface thoughts that are running about my mind. I tune them out as best as I can.
Dr. Masters from the University of Metaphysics, has a suggestion of using a candle on a table before the meditator. He suggests the meditator have the flame at eye height. Then the meditator focuses their attention on the flame. This is incredibly useful, as this practice goes into stage 2.
Similar to Dr. Masters, various mystical societies I belonged to, also had similar eye gazing techniques. Something really interesting will occur. When you stare at something (like a candle flame or flashing colors/designs) – upon closing your eyes, the reverse image (reverse color) will appear in your minds’ eye. This might have to do with the physics of the eye (cones and rods.) There is a mystic teaching that the astral world has a gateway inverted in color to our own. Therefore by holding the image and it’s inverse in the mind it can be accessed…. But… hey that’s a whole other thing I won’t go into at this point.
Dr. Master’s approach is to stare at a candle flame for as long as possible. For me I do this for 10min (the first 10 min, aka as stage 1.)
My smartphone will set of a gong (noise) when 10min has passed. Now I know I should shift into the next phase. If I was using the candle technique (mentioned above), I would close my eyes and see the bright after image of the flame imposed in my mind/eyes. Hold it. Follow it. Watch it. It should last some considerable amount of time.
Feel that you are looking into a area somewhere physically between your eyebrows, a bit above your eyebrows and into your head. If you put attention there, you may feel a buzzing or a tingling sensation. This is the Ajna chakra, also called “The Third Eye,” by mystics. This is a connection point between your mind and the higher self, and further yet – a connection to the Divine Source.
Just keep gazing at the after image. Feel you are looking deep into your mind. Deeper and deeper you peer into your own mind….
If the image of the candle flame disappears completely from your mind, you just need to let it go. Keep your attention on your mind with the intent to connect to your higher self OR with the intent to connect with the Divine Source/Eternal Mind/God.
My smart phone will kick off another gong (noise) and I’ll know I have 10min left to this 30 min meditation. Now I start to keep my attention at my mind. I continue to let all surface thought go. I don’t fight the thoughts. I just release them. If I make a connection where something comes up, I address it here. For example, if I where to mentally ask God, “What is my true purpose” I would do that here. I may get a image, a flash or inspiration. I would think on it without reservations one way or the other.
Continue to sit in this stage. If you have a Guru or spiritual leader, you can visualize them sitting on a glowing disk deep within your mind. Here you can ask questions to them.
Keep in mind that you should balance all answers to your questions with reason. If your mental image tells you, “go and sell everything you own and move to Iran.” That may just be confusion or noise. Hence why the Gospels say “try the spirits.” You need to dig deeper into anything you receive to make sure it’s your life’s purpose.
Also keep in mind that spiritual truth will never tell you to harm anyone. To harm another is to harm yourself. God (despite what people have written about God for thousands of years) does not need warriors to defend it’s goals. The Divine Source doesn’t need martyrs or fighters of some physical cause. You will never be tasked with harming another. Such delusions are the egoic mind trying to find it’s way into your subconscious.
Also beware of the ego trying to tell you how you are destined for greatness. That you have some special task that will make you some powerful person. Anything that tickles your ego, arrogance, etc. is most likely the little self.
If noises bother you, stop being bothered…. simply watch/listen to the noises. Don’t articulate what they are. Don’t think “that’s a dog barking” just observe the sound. I found this technique to be one of the most powerful ways to meditate (meditating on the sounds around me.) This is especially good for people who live in big cities with lots of noise.
Don’t stress about it. It happens. Just gently let the thoughts go and resume. Some say to acknowledge the thoughts… like “i need to pay the gardener…” “OK I need to pay him, now back to meditation.”
For more information on Meditation (and other techniques) you can try recorded Guided Meditations, as well as other traditional views on meditation. I have some information on other meditation techniques here.
When I first heard about affirmations… I thought it was silly. I didn’t really like the idea of telling myself some phrase. Hollywood has ridiculed this for years. Perhaps it rubbed off on me. It seemed so “new age” to use affirmations. But after I started using them for real, in a proper way, I found them to be AWESOME.
Some people give affirmations that are multiple paragraphs long. That’s too long. They need to be short and to the point. You should be in a meditative state, or mentally put your attention at your third eye, and let your surface thought go. Then read the statement and feel it radiate through you.
Affirmations also need to be read throughout the day. For this reason they are best used with smart phones and a calendar app. Most of us have smart phones these days. If you tie in Google Calendar or OSX Calendar, you can plug in affirmations to kick off throughout your day.
I use between 2-4 affirmations and rotate them every 2 hours through the day. Each day I have a different set of affirmations. If I’m going through a specific event, I may use specific affirmations for that need.
The best source of affirmations will be ones YOU create. However, Dr. Master’s Bachelor course at the University of Metaphysics has a large supply of them and they are very good.
One of my goals here is to build a repository of my own affirmations – as a template that others can use or build off of, to write their own.
The affirmation should be short, and to the point. It should recognize God (the Divine Source) as the supply of the need and be in a positive frame of reference. Here’s some examples:
I radiate out auric vibrations of financial abundance and well- being, wherever I may be each day.
All channels of my mind are open, so that I may receive intuitive direction from the God of my being as to go where I am needed for my greatest growth.
The God-Power within me is greater than any obstacle before me.
Failure is a thing of the past, while overcoming is part of the present, and by God’s Presence in my mind, I will not fail.
Reading an affirmation is more then just speaking it to your mind. You MUST feel it. Feel it soaking your aura, your skin, your muscles. Feel your spirit being soaked in the words as they color your energy in brilliance.
How Does This Help?
Affirmations affect your subconscious and conscious minds. Where meditation gets you more in tune with YOU and GOD, affirmations continue that through the day. As you are reminded with calendar events on your phone, or by stickies you put on your desk at work, car and refrigerator – you continuously are brought back to the energy patterns of spiritual growth.
Like energy attracts like energy. By being filled with positive energy, you get positive results
Does it work?
YES! I have been blessed so many times with miracles that popped out of nowhere to meet a need I had in the moment. When I stop using affirmations, I find myself falling into old behavior patterns where I get depressed, frustrated and reactive.
One example was that my family and I were facing a financial situation. We needed a bit of extra income to help out with our debts. Affirmations of positivity and assurance that our needs would be met (and meditation daily) created a near instant result of someone offering me some money to help him on weekends, that paid off several debts.
You can feel it work. People around you will feel it work. They will feel your attitude is different. You will light up the places you inhabit. Those places that are so dark and dismal that they tap out people’s light… well those places will fall away from you and be replaced with positive situations and conditions – from the perspective of YOU and not you. Your little self may not like the change. It may thrive on the big business, ego driven job. But your higher self will be thrilled when it is in the right place at the right time.
…and this is what Self Help really is! It is letting the greater YOU help the little you step aside.