Why practice personal and spiritual development?
By: Dr Claus Springborg, January 2023, Copenhagen
As a reader of this blog, I’m sure you know from experience how important personal and spiritual development is and how investing in yourself can lead to great rewards.
But even with that knowledge, it’s always nice to remind ourselves of why we’re on this journey. Sometimes taking a step back and remembering our reasons for doing the work can help keep us on track.
With that in mind, I wanted to share three of my favourite reasons for investing in personal and spiritual development. I hope this will help remind you of why you find the journey so valuable!
Don’t miss out on the beauty of life.
A friend of mine recently shared with me that she had started meditating and was feeling a sense of confusion about her experiences. A mutual friend of ours had recommended that she speak with me about it, as he knew that “Claus is into that kind of stuff”. I was happy to offer my assistance and invited her over for a cup of tea to chat. During the conversation, she said:
“I’ve sat up a room with an armchair where I can go and meditate. I just sat there, and after a while of doing nothing, I felt happy. I don’t remember the last time I felt that good. How is that possible? I didn’t do anything!”.
I believe my friend’s question is a powerful reminder of one of the key reasons why we engage in personal and spiritual development. It teaches us how to be unconditionally happy. It shows us that happiness is not a goal but the starting-point of all our endeavours. When we search for happiness, it is not because it isn’t there but because we have lost sight of it.
Ironically enough, sometimes the reason we lose sight of this simple fact is that we are too occupied with personal and spiritual development. Thus, remembering this powerful insight is a great way to stay on track with whatever path we follow.
Let go of needless struggling
The more we connect with the essence of who we are we start seeing our problems become much more manageable or even dissolve completely. In either case, this frees up time for us. As human beings, we waste a lot of time on activities intended to bring us closer to ourselves, which end up bringing needless suffering.
We may work tirelessly to build wealth in pursuit of a sense of security but end up with extra worries and having to spend a lot of time taking care of our wealth. We may watch hours of television in pursuit of relaxation but end up with a lack of time for sleeping or exercising. We may pick fights with our partners in pursuit of respect and a sense of being valued but end up feeling like a failure and having to spend a lot of time mending the relationship – or building a new one. We may overeat in pursuit of satisfaction but end up with stomach aches and health issues.
As we connect with the essence of who we are, we naturally feel safe, at ease, valuable, satisfied, and much more. This will make a surprising number of activities superfluous and give us much more time and make us much better at prioritising what is truly important in our lives.
Greater acceptance of self and others
One of the most precious effects of personal and spiritual development is that we learn to understand and accept more sides of ourselves and others. We all have certain mental, emotional, and behavioural patterns that we judge harshly and see no value in. This leads us to distance ourselves from these patterns. However, since they are part of us, this can easily turn in to a life-long battle.
One exercise I love doing on my workshops is to have people identify sides of themselves they dislike, such as stinginess, jealousy, anger, selfishness, laziness, etc. I then invite people to imagine what it would be like to voluntarily and deliberately set off time in their calendar for indulging in embodying these sides if there were no negative consequences in doing so. While some people instantly feel excited about the idea others can have great resistance to it. However, in practice almost everyone end up experiencing a great release of energy when engaging in this exercise.
The reason for this is twofold. First, we use a lot of energy repressing the sides of us we judge as negative, and this energy is released when we entertain the idea of not repressing these sides. Second, the aspects of ourselves we repress are often sides that contain a great amount of vital energy, and when we connect with these aspects, we gain access to the energy they contain.
A wonderful side-effect of learning to connect with more sides of ourselves and getting to know their value is that we also change our attitude towards other people who embody these aspects.
Prioritising personal development improves all else in life
When we invest in personal and spiritual development, we come to live in a world of greater beauty, less suffering and struggle, and greater acceptance of ourselves and others.
Remembering that these are the kind of outcomes we gain from personal and spiritual development can help us focus our engagement with self-development if we are on the journey – and help us prioritise it if we are not already doing so.
If you are interested in a rigorous, systematic and practice-oriented approach to personal and spiritual development in a small and exclusive group of maximum 20 dedicated people, then you might be interested in Sensing Mind Institute’s Essence of Life education. To learn more, you can book a non-committal chat with me – just send me an email and we’ll find a time.
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