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Published on March 15, 2018

How to Attain Self-Realization (a Guide to Become a Better You)

How to Attain Self-Realization (a Guide to Become a Better You)

Chances are, you’re busy hustling between the 40 hours a week you need to work, the family you need to provide for, and the bills that need to be paid.

As the years pass by, you’ve begun to feel the burnout from all the needs and expectations required of you. You don’t feel like you are in control over your own life. In fact, it feels like the circumstances in your life are controlling you.

What if there was a way for you to be able to have better control of your life and create all the positive changes you’ve been aching for?

This can be done through self-realization.

You’ve probably heard of this concept before, but you’re not really sure what it really is or how it can help you.

I’m going to dive into what exactly self-realization is and the exact steps you can take to attain it for yourself. Read on if you want to learn how to unlock your potential and find a way to decrease your stress and anxiety, and gain crystal clear clarity about who you are and what you’re capable of.

What self-realization really is

Self-realization has a few big definitions.

In the Western world, it’s generally defined as the activation of one’s full potential of talents and abilities.

How psychologists see self-realization

Humanistic psychology also follows a similar train of thought about self-realization.

Psychologist Abraham Maslow has named people he considered to have reached self-realization such as Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln and Eleanor Roosevelt to name a few. His famous hierarchy of needs theory states in order to achieve self-realization (or in this case, Maslow uses the term “self-actualization”),[1] one needs to have a certain set of needs met before achieving it:[2]

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    For example, self-realization cannot be achieved if you are struggling financially and too caught up in worrying about how to pay for the rent and provide food for your family. Unfortunately, this is usually the case for many people, which leaves little opportunity for them to maximize their abilities.

    How religions see self-realization

    In religions, the concept of self-realization is taken from a different perspective altogether. Connecting with your truest self has a lot to do with transcending your own mind and body. This self is often considered as an eternal being that is not confined to the physical space that your mind and body take up. Many recognize this part of yourself as the soul.

    To put all of these definitions together, self-realization is ultimately learning the answer to the foundational question, “Who am I?”

    The answer lies from understanding that you are not your emotions or your thoughts. Who you really are is not even your body or your mind. These are all things you as a self experience, but they are not you.

    And when you are too caught up in these things that are not yours, that’s when you fall victim to and get stuck in your negative experiences such as stress, anxiety and fear.

    While your thoughts, feelings, and physical body always changes, you do not.

    I know this concept can be a bit confusing to understand, so here’s a great video that explores who you really are explained by Prince EA. It was a video made in response to a bizarre interview session with Comedian Jim Carrey at the red carpet interview at the 2017 New York Fashion Week.

    Here’s the video:

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    Why self-realization matters to you

    How often are you distracted, lost in your thoughts, or overwhelmed by difficult emotions?

    Being in the present is more difficult than ever with the technology today. People are often buried in their smartphones or laptops while others around are craving their attention.

    Most people spend so little time in the present. They’re usually either hurt and having trouble letting go of their past, or busy worrying about their futures:[3]

    “People spend 46.9 percent of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they’re doing, and this mind-wandering typically makes them unhappy.”

    Here are some amazing benefits to self-realization:

    • The ability to monitor your emotions. Rather than being controlled by your emotions, you can now use your observations about them during the experience to learn how to effectively handle things like fear, anxiety and stress. Self-realizations helps you do this by giving you the skill of letting go of debilitating feelings and taking hold of the empowering ones instead.
    • Improved focus and concentration. Guided by your own inner goals and values, self-realization helps you easily identify when you are entering into distractions and eliminate them. By getting rid of the meaningless things in your life, you stay committed to what matters most and you begin to see real results as you reach your fullest potential.
    • Increased confidence, self-awareness and self-esteem. By being connected deeply to your truest self, self-realization frees you from any insecurities, worries, and low sense of self worth that you feel tangled up in by helping you really grasp the truth that you are not defined by them.
    • Becoming more accepting of yourself and of other people. You are able to be more authentic and express emotions freely and clearly. As a result, you are able to form deeper relationships and spend more time connecting with people rather than trying to impress them.

    When people don’t have a strong sense of their own self, they get easily swayed to live life the way other people tell them to live it.

    The truth of this has been shown through Bronnie Ware’s famous work, which has shown that one of the top regrets of people who are dying was:[4]

    “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

    There can be tons of pressure whether it’s from work, society, and even friends and family for you to be a certain way. Maybe your rough upbringing instilled a strong need for other’s approval in you so you do what others expect of you. Maybe you’ve stopped trusting people because of your struggles with letting go of the thoughts and experiences that hurt you.

    Whatever the situation, self-realization gives you the safe space you need to heal and grow.

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    How to achieve self realization (the easier way)

    Start meditating regularly. Aside from all the scientific evidence that shows the health benefits of meditation, it is also a prime way to achieve self-realization.

    One of my favorite apps that guide you through meditation is Headspace.

    I particularly love this app because it is very straightforward without all the woo-woo types of things you normally associate with meditation. It does a great job of demystifying what meditation really is and how it can benefit you to achieving self-realization.

    Here’s a great explanation of what meditation does for you:

    You can get the basic meditation guidance for free or pay for a premium version for access to more specific meditations that improve things like self esteem, creativity and relationships.

    In case you don’t want to download the app, here is the simple meditation practice you can do right now:

    1. Sit comfortably on a chair.
    2. Start by leaving your eyes open with a relaxed soft focus.
    3. Take about a minute to take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth.
    4. After a few deep breaths, gently close your eyes while you are breathing out.
    5. Resume normal breathing.
    6. Take a moment to pause and enjoy being present in the moment with having nothing to do, nowhere to go, nothing to check.
    7. Take a moment to feel the pressure of your body on the chair beneath you, the feet on the floor and the hands and the arms just resting on the legs.
    8. Gently bring the focus back to your breathing.
    9. As you sit there beginning to notice the breath and the body with its rising and falling sensation, don’t try and stop your thoughts. Simply allow them to just come and go.
    10. At this point, the only thing you need to do is when you’ve realized your mind has wandered, gently bring the focus back to your breath again.
    11. Gently bring the attention back to your body, back to that feeling of contact to your chair and the space around you and when ready, gently open your eyes again.

    Even if it’s only 5-10 minutes a day, learning to train your mind to be present is so important to your journey towards self-realization. You need to take a step back from the craziness of life and recompose yourself to be present for the things that matter most.

    Another great method that can be used to achieve self-realization that involves a bit more body strength is yoga. While there are many variations of yoga and has also become a very popular form of exercise in western culture, its original purpose served as a meditative practice to achieve the higher level of consciousness that comes from self-realization.

    You can access plenty of free Yoga channels on Youtube or join a gym to get started.

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    How to make time for self-realization every day

    I know what you’re thinking.

    “I don’t have time for this!”

    I beg to differ.

    About 40 percent of the things you do in a day don’t involve you actively making a decision. Instead, it is actually a habit.

    Out of all of your habits, there are probably a handful of bad ones. If you can observe your daily routines, there is a simple way to change a bad habit into a good one, which is to start making changes to your environment to make it easier for you to change your habits.

    The idea is rather than trying to squeeze in more time to do something, simply alter a daily habit you have into something else.

    For example, let’s say you start your morning by brewing your coffee and sitting down on the dining table for 20 minutes to browse the internet to catch up on the news.

    The news is usually full of negative information, so why not spend those 20 minutes in meditation instead?

    One easy way to make this change is to change your environment up by keeping your laptop and phone in a different room so you don’t have immediate access to it when you sit down on the dining table. You make it easier on yourself to spend time meditating rather than staring at a screen.

    Want some more great tips on breaking bad habits? You can try out Lifehack CEO’s secret Control Alternate Delete method, which was the method he used to break 3 bad habits in less than 2 months.

    Self-realization doesn’t happen overnight. It will take some time and practice, but if you turn the practices into a habit, you’ll be guaranteed to get there. Once you do, you’ll finally feel like you are in more control over your life and be able to get yourself to the next level.

    Now that you have a better understanding of the importance and benefits of self-realization, why not take a moment to put everything down and give it a try?

    Reference

    More by this author

    Eugene K. Choi

    I coach professionals who feel stuck in their lives develop a customized plan to serve a need that exists in the world by unleashing their passions and talents.

    Meditation for Beginners: How to Meditate Deeply and Quickly 15 Ways Meditation Benefits Your Brain Power and Your Mood How to Be Happy Again: 13 Simple Ways to Shake off Sadness Right Now How to Attain Self-Realization (a Guide to Become a Better You)

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    Published on June 13, 2018

    Meditation for Beginners: How to Meditate Deeply and Quickly

    Meditation for Beginners: How to Meditate Deeply and Quickly

    Imagine yourself running at top speed. After a few minutes pass, you feel yourself slowly getting out of breath. You feel the aches in your muscles as your body slows down but you keep pushing yourself to keep going. Eventually, you collapse because you’ve exhausted all energy and you can no longer function.

    For many people, this is what we do to our minds when we are constantly under stress. All the thoughts dictated by our endless to-do lists accompanied by our worries and fears are burning out our brains.

    What if I told you there was a simple process backed by science that you can do in as little as 20 minutes a day that will lower your stress levels, improve your decision making skills and relieve anxiety?

    This process is meditation. It has now become widely popular with over 18 million people practicing it in the U.S. alone[1] and it now also has grown into a billion dollar business.[2] Leading companies such as Google, Goldman Sachs and Salesforce use meditation practices in the workplace and 22% of employers have offered mindfulness training to staff back in 2016.

    We’ve created this article about meditation for beginners so you can learn about what it is, and how you can use it right now to start experiencing the many benefits it provides.

    What meditation means to your body and mind

    The actual practice of meditation can be done in many different ways but the one type that has shown promising results is known as mindfulness meditation.

    The purpose of the practice is to train your mind to be firmly focused on the present moment. It involves the act of focusing your attention on something such as your breathing, as well as taking moments to simply observe and be aware of things around and within you.

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    Meditation recharges your brain

    Meditation is what helps you to be in a restful and recuperative state where you are not controlled by your thoughts and feelings. As a result your mind will become better able to manage them in a way where you just observe them so you can make better decisions.

    “Meditation isn’t about becoming a different person, a new person, or even a better person. It’s about training in awareness and getting a healthy sense of perspective. You’re not trying to turn off your thoughts or feelings. You’re learning to observe them without judgment. And eventually, you may start to better understand them as well.”[3]

    Meditation keeps your brain healthy

    Just like how exercises will make your body physically stronger, this mental exercise will make your brain stronger. It activates the parts of your brain that promote things like intelligence, empathy, and happiness just to list a few.

    It’s a known fact that our brain start slowly shrinking starting around the age of 30[4] but keeping your brain in shape with meditation can prevent the shrinking altogether.

    Meditation hears the cries of your body

    When we’re too busy, we may not notice the subtle symptoms of our body. For example, when we are stressed, there are early symptoms such as tightness, irritation and heaviness in the body. When we ignore these symptoms, it can lead to much more amplified symptoms such as high blood pressure, fatigue and anxiety.

    Meditation helps you become more aware with what your body has been trying to communicate with you about your health and well-being in order address certain issues before it’s too late.[5]

    Why it’s worth it to start meditation

    Over 50 years of scientific research has shown compelling evidence of the many different types of benefits meditation can have on both your brain and your body.

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    One of the most compelling piece of evidence for meditation that I have found was that it literally changes your brain. Brain scans have shown that the neuron rich part of the brain known as grey matter was noticeably increased in multiple areas of the brain involved with important functions such as decision making, emotional regulation and memory.[6]

    To learn more about some of the amazing benefits, you can read my other article: 15 Ways Meditation Boosts Your Brain Power and Your Mood

    A simple way to meditate (even for absolute beginners)

    If you’ve never meditated before, spending as little as 2 minutes a day may be a great start to develop a meditation habit and experience the results.[7]

    One thing to keep in mind is that meditation isn’t about trying to stop your thoughts. It’s more about being aware of them and then simply allowing them to come and go.

    All you need is a comfortable space where you are likely not to be disturbed and do the following:

    1. Sit with your back straight at a comfortable level, either on a chair or on the floor (Whichever is more comfortable).
    2. Start by leaving your eyes open with a relaxed soft focus.
    3. Take one deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth.
    4. While breathing out, gently close your eyes and resume normal breathing
    5. Take a moment to pause and enjoy being present in the moment. Feel the pressure of your body on the chair beneath you, the feet on the floor and the hands and the arms just resting on the legs.
    6. Gently bring the focus back to your breathing and notice the breath and the body with its rising and falling sensation.
    7. When you’ve realized your mind has wandered from any thoughts, sounds or other sensations, gently bring the focus back to your breath again.
    8. Gradually bring the attention back to your body and the space around you. Then gently open your eyes again.
    9. Take a moment to soak in how that felt for you before going about your day.

    Clearing the obstacles to meditation

    There are many things that may be preventing you from experiencing the amazing results of engaging in regular meditation. Here are some challenges to expect as well as some guidance on how to handle them:

    • Doubt – Your skepticism might take over and you might be questioning if such a simple practice can really help you in any way. A ton of evidence has shown it does, so go in with an open mind and trust the process. You will notice the changes gradually and the possibilities will soon become a reality for you.
    • Restlessness – You may find yourself restless and constantly distracted with thoughts when meditating. Be aware this is totally normal especially in the beginning. Like any other practice, you will have some good days and bad days but as you continue training your mind, you’ll become more and more fluent with entering into a calm state.
    • Impatience– You might not experiencing the benefits as quickly as some other people do. Don’t worry. While it might take you a little longer to see the positive outcomes, go at your own pace and as you continue to practice and get better, you will definitely experience the results.
    • Sleepiness – You will definitely have trouble focusing if you’re tired or low on energy. If you find this happening often, try to meditate during a time where you are more awake such as earlier in the day rather than closer to bedtime.
    • Discouragement – As with any other new habit formation, life happens and you will miss some days that you were hoping to get a meditation session in. Don’t let this discourage you into giving up. Keep moving forward and do it whenever you can. Every little bit helps to create a big result.

    Basic techniques and practicing exercises (With specific steps)

    Two of the most researched types of meditation include focused attention meditation (FAM) and open monitoring meditation (OMM).

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    Focused attention meditation involves the active focusing of attention on an object, your breathing, an image or some words.

    Open monitoring meditation involves more of a observation approach where you practice being aware of any experience that comes up without any judgement nor focus towards it.

    Most mindfulness meditation sessions use a combination of both these types with focused attention meditation usually in the beginning and gradually shifting to open monitoring meditation.

    To help you take your meditation a little further, here are some basic techniques you can practice for each type:

    Focused attention meditation

    Focused attention meditation can be done in a variety of ways as there are many things you can choose to focus on. Here are some basic techniques that you can use to incorporate:

    • Breathing Meditation – This is a very common form of focused attention method where you focus on the breath while meditating. Simply count to 10 with each breath that goes in and out and repeat. Whenever your mind wanders, gently bring the focus back to your breath and start the count over again.
    • Walking Meditation – Go out for a walk at a comfortable pace. As you do, start focusing on the sensations you feel in your body. Notice the weight of your feet as it hits the floor and the swinging of your arms with each stride. If you find thoughts coming into your mind, just gently bring the focus back to the sensations you feel as you walk.
    • Mantra Meditation – A mantra is a word or phrase that you repeat to yourself. It can be any word so choose a positive one you like that’s comfortable for you to say. As you begin meditation, close your eyes and repeat your mantra to yourself. Focus only on the sound and feel of your mantra and gently bring your focus back to it whenever your mind wanders.
    • Object or Image Meditation – This involves placing your focus either on an image in your mind or on an actual object in the environment. Meditation with images can be done with your eyes closed whereas you would need to do it with your eyes open when focusing on an actual object such as a flower or candle flame.

    Open monitoring meditation

    Open monitoring meditation is all about observing experiences without judging or getting attached to them. This sort of awareness of your thoughts and feelings without being controlled by them is what’s referred to as mindfulness.

    This promotes the clarity, perspective and wisdom that comes when gaining insight and helps you make better decisions especially when handling challenging emotions such as fear and stress.

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    Here’s how you can do it:

    1. Get comfortable into your meditation position and relax.
    2. Take long and deep breaths. With every exhale, feel how your body is getting more and more relaxed.
    3. Now rest your awareness in the present moment.
    4. Tune into your sensory experiences for several moments. Take a moment to observe the weight of your body on the chair and your hands on your lap. Notice any sounds or smells in your room.
    5. Monitor your organs by doing a body scan from the top of your head to the tip of your toes and observe any sensations as you do it.
    6. Take your awareness deeper by monitoring and thoughts or feelings. Recognize any deep emotions. Remember not to think about these emotions, but to simply notice them instead. One way that can help you not get caught up in the emotion is to label them. If you experience fear, just tell yourself “This is fear”. Then let go of it.
    7. When your mind wanders from the moment, resist the urge to attach yourself to those thoughts. Just let them come and go.
    8. Exit the meditation by letting your mind slip out of awareness and back to the present moment.

    Guided meditation

    One way to help you get started and really experience the perks of meditation is to participate in guided meditation.

    You can always search for a local class or if you’re more introverted, you can download great apps like Headspace that have free meditation sessions that you can do in the comfort of your own home.

    You can also try this Guided Morning Meditation for Beginners (That Will Change Your Day)

    The transformation you’ve been searching for

    One of the key ways that meditation helps you, is by bringing you to the realization that you are not your thoughts or feelings; meditation frees you if you’ve been chained by your thoughts.

    By simply connecting with and being more aware of yourself, you develop the amazing ability to handle stress, improve your health and increase your intellect.

    So take two minutes now to close your eyes, focus on your breath and be present. Then you’ll be on your way to changing your life for the better.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

    Reference

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