The past couple of weeks, I was focused on how one can examine each of the 8 dimensions of life and strive to balance the home and work life, two components of the outer life. In this final article, I am going to talk about the inner life and the importance of building a state of heightened self-awareness and wholeness to achieve harmony and joy spiritually.
In one of the earlier articles, I wrote that “it is important that you must be able to see the gap between your inner life values – your ‘true’ self – and the choices you make based on your outer life conditioning – your ‘false’ self.”
We reach a point in our life when we are ready for change and something can be staring us right under our nose but we don’t see it. The only time we think of unlocking our self improvement power is when everything gets worst. We learn our lessons when we experience pain. We finally see the warning signs when things get rough and tough.
The only time most of us ever learn about unlocking our self improvement power is when the whole world is crashing and falling apart. We think and feel this way because it is not easy to change. But change becomes more painful when we ignore it.
Change will happen, like it or hate it. At one point or another, we are all going to experience different turning points in our life – and we are all going to eventually unlock our self improvement power not because the world says so, but because we realize it’s for our own good.
Successful people don’t just accept change, they embrace it. Now, you don’t have to feel a tremendous heat before realizing the need for self improvement. Unlocking your self-improvement power means unlocking yourself up in the cage of thought that “it’s just the way I am”. It is such a poor excuse for people who fear and resist change. All of us program our minds subconsciously.
Self improvement may not be everybody’s favorite word, but if we look at things in a different point of view, we might have greater chances of enjoying the whole process instead of counting the days until we are fully improved.
To unlock the infinite power of self you must understand what Self is. Your Self consists of three core elements: your body, your mind, and your spirit. You must work on each one of these elements as part of the self improvement process. Each part of self affects the other and each is as important as the other. You need to understand where you currently exist on the spectrum of personal development and life balance. Since we already discussed balancing the outer life, we will now focus on the internal life.
Please understand that there is no right or wrong dimension to be on. Each level is fine. You’ll never exist solely in one level. In fact, as long as you live you will fluctuate through the different levels and that is how you will achieve balance. First you need to determine where you are spending most of your time. Once you determine where you spend the majority of your time and energy, you will have a better understanding of why you currently feel unfulfilled.
Self Improvement through Body:
Your body is the vehicle with which you interact with physical life. Through your body you communicate with the world around you. Your mind uses your body to express itself; your spirit uses your body to experience itself. You must keep your body as fit and active as it is possible for it to be for the rest of your life. If you do not let your body do what it was designed for it will falter and ultimately fail. As well as feeding body for optimum health you must also exercise it so that it can renew itself. Your muscles keep themselves strong by use. The same can be said of your brain too. If you find yourself spending most of your time, energy and effort only on the body, you will feel empty, unhappy, and unfulfilled. Your life is not balanced; therefore you will eventually feel uninterested and unfulfilled.
Your body has innate wisdom. Practice paying attention to the wisdom within, and you will be surprised about what you learn. Your body is naturally attuned to the life force that sustains it; it is the mind that confuses things. We must practice discernment and learn by trial and error what works for us.
The process of listening to your body involves remaining open to hearing what is required in each moment. Get into the habit of asking yourself: What does my body want today? When we don’t listen, we often wind up imposing rules that just won’t stick. Gorging on junk food after a nice big salad and tofu patties may be a sign that we are not listening.
Go easy on yourself. Have the sweets if you crave them. Perhaps by allowing a reasonable amount of them when first desired, they’ll lose some of their appeal. The mind can be funny that way; it tends to want what you tell it not to have. So play a little game and psyche yourself out. Allow yourself to indulge a bit, but also make an effort to include more nutritious foods in your diet. Pay attention to how you feel. Let your body guide you. Throw away the books by the so-called experts, and listen within.
Worry and fear are creeping into our plates. How about love of the self? How about nourishing our souls as we nourish our bodies? Try candlelight, soothing music, a pleasant setting and, if possible, the company of those you love. Avoid arguments and heated discussions at meal time. This harmony will do more for optimal assimilation and digestion than all the food-combining rules under the sun.
Try breathing deeply and envisioning a healthful meal being assimilated into particles of light that are imparted with the wisdom to travel to the parts of your body that need them most. Now, THAT’S nourishing! Most importantly, simply savor your food and relax. Bask in the knowledge that your body is a magnificent creation that is masterfully equipped to extract and absorb the vital nutrients that will sustain you.
Self Improvement through Mind:
It is through the mind that you make the decisions for your body. Everything that you are today has been planned out by your mind. The job you do, how much you earn, the person you married, your weight, your beauty, your car, your house etc. Through your mind and your thoughts you have created your present life experience.
If you want self improvement in any part of your life as you experience it now you must improve your mind. Knowledge is a key that opens so many doors. Improve your mind through the acquisition of information. Perhaps you want a better job and to earn more money. What do you need to know to get from where you are to where you want to get to? Do you need extra qualifications or to retrain?
The truth is, the mind loves to solve problems, so it will complicate your life to the point of utter exhaustion. Your “To Do” list gets longer and longer simply because the mind is complicating your life so you have more problems to solve. You know the scenario, think of the workaholic who always putting out fires at work, one after another. Or the woman who has to keep up with all of her kids schedule and her work schedule and everything in between keeping herself so busy she never takes time for herself. Or the entrepreneur who jumps from business opportunity to business opportunity never finding that one that “works.” Spending too much time in the “Mind” phase will make you just as unhappy, unfulfilled and stuck as spending too much time and energy on the body.
Improving the conscious mind is the easier part. The difficulty is the subconscious mind which also has a huge part to play in your life as you experience it today. Perhaps you are overweight because you eat inappropriately. You find it difficult to resist the urge to binge on chocolate but you don’t know why. The answer probably lies somewhere in your subconscious where you have stored and learned that behavior from the past. Once you access the subconscious you can change what is stored there and thus improve your behavior. There are a number of professionals and therapists who can help you improve yourself through the mind and there are a number of self help techniques you can use.
Man is evolving constantly. Each dimension of his being – physical, mental, and spiritual – has its own force of consciousness and though separate, is interconnected with others. Through these levels of attainment he supports his own evolution. When he is at the physical level, any pain – even a fever – can bring about anxiety or depression. At the mental dimension, well being begins with learning. Self-observation, self-analysis and self-knowledge need an intellectual approach. Ordinarily, negative emotions like anger, hatred, and greed within certain limits are accepted as normal human weaknesses. However, these emotions have no place in the life of those who seek spiritual evolution. An agitated mind is ‘impure’ while a steady mind that is alert and joyful is ‘pure’.
Non-apprehension of reality is the cause for all misapprehensions. A deluded mind creates misunderstandings. One who broods over the past mars the present which is what shapes the future.
Each moment, one is not only reaping the fruits of past actions, but one is also creating the recipe for life tomorrow. The power of the past on the consciousness is what determines our behavior. Indeed, it is not easy to break away fully from the negative influence of the past, but it is important to realize the need for change. In the worldly sense, through self-effort or help from others, one achieves a certain amount of success and happiness but this is not enough to experience total well being.
One does not have to be a yogi to know the secret of the final solution for good fortune, health and success. A royal, final formula for achieving peace and joy was expressed 5,000 years ago by Krishna in the Bhagavad Geetha (Ch 9): “To you, who are devoid of the carping spirit, I shall now unfold the most secret knowledge of nirguna brahma along with the knowledge of manifest divinity, knowing which you shall be free from the evil of worldly existence”.
The final solution is for those who prepare the mind for its inward journey, still staying in tune with the orchestra of life, maintaining a healthy relationship with the world outside. This knowledge is the royal science of life because it provides us with scientific, achievable techniques. This is called the royal secret because it is too profound for the lay person. This is the final solution because it is the supreme purifier which leads us to the ultimate truth that is really within us.
Self Improvement through Spirit:
Such concepts as faith, hope, joy, contentment, peace, and love all fall within the realm of the spirit. You don’t have to be religious to know the essential nature of these things to fully experience a life of the highest quality. However working with the spirit is different than working with the body and mind. You can work to improve your body and mind but you must work to let your spirit improve you.
Just taking time on a regular basis to get in touch with your spirit will bring you self improvement at the most profound level. Religious structures and practices have been put in place by our ancestors to help us commune with the spirit. You may choose to follow a religion or find your own path but without good spiritual health you will find the power of self improvement in all areas much more difficult to unleash.
The soul wants to be beneficial to other people and make the world a better place. Again this seems like a great thing, and it is. So what’s wrong with helping people? The soul is the part that puts on charity events, that helps the homeless, that volunteers and builds businesses to help other people. The soul is a beautiful part of the human experience. All people are inherently drawn to help other people. The fact is it makes us feel good to help other people. And we should absolutely spend a good deal of time in this part of the human experience. This is the part that achieves goals that are bigger than us as individuals.
Body, Mind, and Spirit – Strike a Balance
Ancient Vedic sages have said that human beings are composed of both matter and spirit. Our physical body, mind and intellect are the matter components while our soul is the spirit – the real Self – that radiates and drives the matter components.
We have been blessed with the capacity to Choose. We are equipped to take decisions using our intellect and by applying acquired wisdom. We have vast potential, but because of our ignorance of Self, these potentials remain largely untapped. That is why all wise men have exhorted us to try and attain Supreme Knowledge of the Self.
Today, we strive for perfection in every field. With the evolution of mind and intellect, worldly knowledge has become easily accessible. So, we have achieved a certain measure of excellence in the physical sciences. We have created for ourselves many facilities that make life more comfortable.
Our scriptures proclaim that the true nature of human beings is absolute tranquility and peace. But today, we find that with so many worldly possessions at our command, our lives have become far more stressful and unhappy than ever before. We have become totally materialistic and self-centered.
No one has time for either themselves or their families. The so called industrial and scientific advancements have failed to bring human beings closer to one another. How many of us smile when we see someone else on the street? In fact, we are increasingly isolating ourselves, creating a vacuum around us.
In mindless pursuit of worldly possessions, negative emotions like greed, jealousy and hatred have overpowered our minds, creating tensions. In order to combat stress and tension, we tend to over-indulge ourselves. Some try to find solace in substance abuse. One reason for this could be: Scientific advancement has not travelled beyond the physical level. We have achieved excellence in the physical sciences, but at the spiritual level, we lag far behind.
Physical experiences that are bereft of spirituality fail to connect with our true Self. The stress starts from within; the solution also lies within. The physical body functions with the hidden Spirit, which is the real Self. So it is important for us to gain knowledge of the Self.
Once we are able to do this, (with the help of a guru, perhaps) our hidden inherent potentials come to the fore. The seed of a large Banyan tree is tiny, like a mustard seed. It is so small that it can be blown away by a gentle breeze. The seed is however unaware of its hidden inherited potential. But when it is sown, it submits itself to growth – with the right inputs of water, air and sunlight, it grows to become a great big Banyan tree. But even the Banyan tree has limits to its growth.
Jeeva or soul is a fragmented part of God or the Supreme Soul; it is, therefore, infinite. When we submit ourselves to the guidance of a spiritual master, we have an opportunity to gain knowledge of Self through which we can fully realize our hidden potential. Great men are not those who do big things, but those who do small things with perfection, and the perfection comes from within.
Brahma gynana or realization of truth alone will bring about a reformation, helping to establish lasting peace. Our sages proclaimed that the whole world is a family and they wished everyone well. Let’s take the cue.
Let us attempt to know more about our inner Self, by striving for excellence not just in the field of physical sciences, but also in the field of spirituality.
In order to bring true balance to your life, you must balance the three parts that exist within you. Take care of the body; learn to enjoy a physical life. Use the mind to solve problems. And use your soul to direct the mind and body to where you can make the biggest difference in the world right now.
No one is perfect, and if you find yourself in the situation where you feel stuck, take inventory of your life and take a look at where you are spending the majority of your time and energy. Listen to those areas that you haven’t heard from for a while. When you nurture all three aspects of you equally, you get a perfect balance between each of them. This gives you great health, pure positivity and happiness. You feel free and secure, you lose fear and you get into the flow of life – everything you desire comes into your experience easily.
Finding balance is an ongoing project. Be sure to feel out each level daily to ensure that you remain in the harmonious and most effective state you can. You deserve the best life possible.
This is the final installment of this series on Self Awareness and Balancing of Life Wheel. Also, starting next week my corporate blog and my personal/spiritual blog get separated and go their individual directions. You can subscribe to the RSS feed for my corporate blog at eMBCblog.blogspot.com and the personal/spiritual blog at PersonalDevelopmentRiches.com.
On the personal/spiritual blog, I will continue to write more about the spiritual aspects of our life, starting with the connection between Science and Spirituality. This will describe how the emerging concept of the new sciences has reduced the separation between the physical world, the living world, and the world of mind and consciousness to ‘nothing.’ This will also lay the foundation for the future topics on spirituality.
I hope you enjoyed reading these articles as much as I have enjoyed writing these down. Sharing these thoughts has been a divine experience for me even if it benefitted few. I look forward to hearing your stories and personal experiences so I can learn new truths and grow myself both personally and spiritually. Namaste!
Dr Surya M Ganduri, PhD. PMP. is the Founder & President of eMBC, Inc., an international firm specializing in strategic and executive leadership development processes that Help People Succeed in an Evolving World. Dr Surya has over 28 years of business experience in management consulting, leadership development, executive coaching, process improvements, organizational development and youth leadership. For more information visit www.eMBCinc.com or contact eMBC, Inc., directly at (630) 445-1321.