The Three Top Personal Development Tools
By Robert Darby
Our tools represent capability and therefore power. Personal development has an array of tools specially designed to work with the unique characteristics of human behavior and here I look at three of the most effective and powerful of these tools: meditation, visualization and affirmation. I chose to write about these three together because when they are used in an integrated manner their power is multiplied many times over. This also means that the results of their combined power can be much greater.
While personal development is a broad category of activities and objectives, I focus primarily on developing personal power through awareness or mindfulness and although this kind of power is spiritual, it nevertheless impacts the conduct of our lives in the material world as well. It cannot be otherwise since all things start with thought and thought is created by mind and mind is spiritual. This is easy to test by asking yourself what is it that can be aware of the minds activity?
I start with meditation because it is the essential ingredient for the other two which are visualization and affirmations. The capabilities of mediation that I describe here are by no means all that meditation can be used for. This tool is the Swiss Army Knife of the personal development world. The problem is that some of its greatest capabilities are only realized with a lot of hard work and timeFortunately some of meditations other benefits are a little easier to achieve and take advantage of. Those are what we will use here, but keep in mind, even these are not a walk in the park. If you want results you must be willing to invest something. In this particular case we want to achieve a decent level of focus and concentration.
Learning meditation is about developing mental discipline. Few of us ever even hear about such a thing, much less actually do it, mostly our minds are an uncontrolled and unruly adventure in chaos. Developing our meditation skills means learning how to quiet the noise and chaos until all that energy can be directed and focused on one point or subject. There are many different schools of meditation but almost all of them will have a strategy for developing this skill. Some want you to sit and hold your attention on a candle flame, or a mantra, or a word or phrase or the simple act of breathing. These things may sound easy but you will discover otherwise very soon.
Here are a few strategies that will help you succeed in this:
•Although we are trying to develop discipline, this kind of discipline is achieved by not forcing it, this is more about letting go.
•When your mind (thoughts)wander, and they will, gently bring your attention back to the object of focus. If you experience impatience or anger just notice them and return your focus to the object.
•Notice the objective observer that brings the attention back each timeThis is called mindfulness, it is the unattached watcher and is the state of mind we are trying to develop.
• In the beginning, I have found that a certain amount of force is required in order to stay with the meditation session itself. There is a tendency to get distracted by thoughts of what we need to do that day, chores, meetings, e-mail, whatever. If you are not committed to meditation, this will be your downfall.
With practice your ability to concentrate deeply will come. In the meantime you can use whatever level of concentration you have developed so far to practice the other two tools.
Many people believe that visualization is only about creating imaginary pictures in our mind. Not so! Visualization can take many forms but it requires two essential elements in order to be affective. Strong intention and concentration. Other than that, this tool is a matter of preferences because most of us are different in some ways. We don't all perceive the world in the same way. Some of us perceive visually and some of us perceive better when we hear things spoken or written. For visualization we can draw or paint a picture or write our image out in text or whatever.
Let's say that I work better with the drawing of a stick man because I'm trying to improve or change some negative thinking or behavior patterns that I became aware of as a result of my meditation sessions (this can easily happen). So, once I draw my stick man I then concentrate on assigning certain properties, attributes and characteristics to my representation of me. I see my stick self as having confidence in myself because I became aware of a lack of this. I see myself as a person of courage to offset and replace my fear. Remember, we must do this with strong intention and concentration or our visions will not impact our subconscious mind enough to make it carry out what it is we need to change.
Affirmations are positive statements about conditions that we want to change in our lives as if they have already been changed and are already real. Kind of like telling ourselves that we are what we want to be until we believe it. Once we believe it, it will become a reality. However, this too must be done with strong intention and conviction accompanied by a deep level of concentration/focus. They will not get through and make an impact if done without these elements.
This is essentially a mini-formula for changing behavior patterns in our lives. Why would we want to change them in the first place? Well, many of our beliefs and the behaviors based on those beliefs are not anything that we chose but rather were indoctrinated into us from early childhood and may not be the best beliefs we could subscribe to and may even be very problematic in our lives. Different people have different reasons for changing their behavior. And now you have a basic introduction to how this is accomplished. If you would like to dive into this subject in much more detail, you can find a great e-book on success, failure and power at www.agendaoflife.org. .
Robert Darby is a self change and personal development specialist who writes for many organizations including The Agenda Of Life FoundationHe focuses on developing personal power since that is usually the cause of all human problems. Robert takes a practical approach in that he looks at the various tools and techniques out there that are designed to help us achieve our mental, spiritual and emotional goals