"Track your path to know whether you're moving forward or in a circle!"
Defining Progress / Improvement
There is the saying that practice makes perfect.
And that is true: The more one practises one's craft, the more skilled one will become.
However, there are always better and worse ways to do things!
Without developing such awareness, one may be practising in an inefficient way, putting in much effort only to achieve little results.
In this article, we will look at the ways we can accelerate progress in whatever we do in life, and specifically, on the journey of Self-Transformation, the spiritual journey towards enlightenment!
Progress In Depth
The key to improvement is the intention to grow
Realize that the quality of our intention will always determine the quality of the results we get in everything we do in life.
Thus, if one wants to improve in whatever one does, then one has to carry the intention to improve.
For instance, if one carries no intention to improve their ability to play tennis, their skills will improve at a slower pace than if they had carried the intention to improve. Because in the former, one will simply swing the rackets as they are told by the coach and hope for the best. But in the latter, one will be more active in looking for ways to improve their swing, their timing, their footwork, adjusting their practice to learn what they need to improve instead of wasting efforts on things they don't need to do.
So, the intention is important. If one is not bothered about improvement, then improvement will be slow compared to if one had the passion for it.
Sometimes, one can carry the intention to improve but that intention may lack power thus having little effect on the mind. In this case, one can simply find more reasons to improve to give their intentions greater force. That is why the deeper your purpose is, the more your life journey will be driven forward by it.
Discovering Your Uniqueness
Developing Self-Knowing is important because everyone's born with a unique personality with their own habit patterns. So realize that everyone will learn things differently. Some can absorb abstract information easier than others whilst some can pick up intellectual things faster. Some may understand teachings better when they are presented in a creative form whilst others may find it easier to understand then when they are presented more literally.
Thus by Knowing your strengths and weaknesses, you can use those to understand how you can learn the subjects you want in a faster way. For instance, if you want to improve your tennis skills and are the type of person who is more into physical learning rather than intellectual, then you would probably not want a coach who is always talking about techniques and strategies; rather, you would learn faster from competing in matches with others.
So, finding one's most effective way of learning can be useful.
Find ways to practice so that one can gain more passion in learning rather than ways to extinguish it. For instance, if you find improving your piano techniques through playing exam pieces boring, then find music that you find beautiful and play it so that you can improve your techniques whilst enjoying the process.
And to find what works best for one will require one to explore all possible methods—to give all methods a fair go. So, when one is learning about something, one has to have an open mind, opening themselves to all kinds of practices and teachings even though the mind may judge it to be ineffective. It's only when one actually tries a method and learns from one's experiences, one can know the effectiveness of a method.
The Importance Of A Strong Foundation
Sometimes, one can reach plateaus in their potential to improve; the reason, most of the time, is the lack of a strong foundation.
How do we develop a strong foundation?
To have a strong foundation, we have to know our weaknesses because it is by addressing one's weaknesses that one can climb even higher.
Realize that a tree will only be able to climb as high as the strength and weaknesses of its roots.
That is why it will be helpful if one can develop an awareness of their weaknesses in the skill or goal they are trying to achieve, and work on those as well rather than investing all their time and effort on developing on their strengths.
For instance, if one wants to learn how to lift a weight off the ground, one may reach their limits if they simply do the same exercises again and again. Perhaps one needs to work on their lack of flexibility by doing some yoga. Perhaps one needs to work on their cardio to improve their poor blood circulation. Perhaps one needs to do more core exercises.
So sometimes, when there is something that we want to achieve, we may have to learn about things that are unrelated to our goals because those present the weaknesses that hold us back from improving even more.
For instance, an artist can learn how to ground their minds by learning how to structure their lives like a business manager to improve their creativity.
For instance, an extrovert can learn to temper their excessive social energy with meditation to improve their relationship with others.
A person who is meditating all the time can learn how to socialize more to balance their life and improve their mind.
Thus, to go beyond the threshold of what we can achieve, one can work on the limitations that is holding one back from achieving more, which will be our weaknesses, the skills, the character constitutions that we lack in.
Realize that nothing grand can be built on top of a weak foundation because in such a design, there will always be a toppling point!
Importance Of Knowing Progress
In whatever Path one decides in life, one must know the means to measure one's progress because how else would one know if they are moving forward or staying still?
It's also important to learn the ways of measuring one's progress because it can help one to become aware of whether the path they have chosen is beneficial or not.
Is your path leading you towards greater growth and happiness?
Or is it leading you no where?
By learning how to measure progress, it will help one to become aware of the things one's doing that is creating progress and what is not, helping one to become aware of ways to use their energy more efficiently.
So whether one is following a practice, a teaching, a religion, a school of thought, a method etc. without being aware of whether or not one is making progress will generally yield little progress.
Sometimes, faith without the company of reality can lead to stagnation.
Path Of Creator
Progress In Relation To The Path Of Creator
Let us talk about applying what we have learnt to create progress on the journey of Self-Transformation.
The journey of Self-Transformation is about creating greater happiness.
To make progress, one has to carry the intention for greater happiness.
Questions can be asked to develop the intention:
"Why do I want greater happiness?"
"What can I do for greater happiness?"
And to learn what creates progress will require one to explore different ways of creating happiness in their life, for instance, trying different activities, living differently, improving their health, and so forth.
But to develop even greater progress, one will have to look within to see what is holding them back from experiencing greater happiness.
These questions can be asked to help one develop greater Self-knowing
"Why can't I be happy all the time?"
"What fears or negativities do I have that is limiting my experience of unhappiness?"
To find the answers and address the suffering states of the mind, one can explore various ways such as practising yoga or meditation or learning about spirituality in general.
Always explore different paths to see which path suits you best.
And to measure whether or not a teaching, method, philosophy is helping one to make progress, one can measure their progress in various ways: by comparing the quality of mind one has currently to the mind one has in the past.
"Am I happier than before?"
"Am I becoming more aware? i.e. of my reactions throughout the day?"
"Is my mind more still?"
"Am I reacting less negatively than before?"
"Am I expressing myself more honestly?"
And the list goes on.
By comparing the quality of mind of oneself to the past Self, one can gain a measure one's progress. However, it's best not to compare oneself to the day before because the mind can fluctuate depending on one's mood and daily experiences, that is why comparisons of at least 6 months in span can provide for more accurate measures.
See Video 31. - Making Progress for more.
The journey of making progress is to see every day as an opportunity to grow, that instead of swinging at life experiences in the same way as before, one learns to swing differently each time. That is how one can approach their experiences from various angles to learn new things about themselves and the world.
The destination is towards greater happiness, a fun and challenging journey indeed!
Develop Experienced Knowledge
To see if there are anything that is holding you back from making progress, you can ask the following questions:
"What weaknesses or self-limiting beliefs do I have that is holding me back from making progress?"
To simplify, one can simply become aware of one's fears
The Creator's Meditation / VipassanaLink here
The progress of the Creator's Meditation is not defined by the quality of experience i.e. how painful or enjoyable one's experience is. But rather, it is by how quickly one can drag themselves back to the state of Stillness whenever one encounters Chaos.
Realize that every day will bring different experiences to the mind. Some days, one can encounter experiences that are more disturbing to the mind. So, to make progress in meditation is not so much about having a perfect experience every day. This is because every day will present a different challenge to the mind.
Though in saying this, the more one's Suffering states of the mind are addressed, the more moments of Stillness one will experience. Ultimately, through transforming the totality of one's suffering states of the mind, one will be able to enjoy Stillness and Happiness in every moment, in one's meditation practice and life.
Know and Transform The Self!
Try the 10 Day One-Self Catalyst to become happier than the day before through learning how to develop Self-Acceptance in every moment!