How to Start Personal Development – Step 1

This is the first step of the personal development program. Many people feel the need to develop themselves and ask a question how to start personal development? Despite the source abundance related to self-improvement issue, the majority of them do not provide a clear answer to the question.

Some authors sidestep the issue by confronting readers with an avalanche of unsystematic information without any guiding idea and without saying how to start or how to move ahead.

Other authors, trying to answer the question, say: start setting the goals that correspond to your dream and start their implementation! It’s easier said than done! What if I am a lazy and disorganized person and I have no idea what do I want? What’s the use of these counsels then?

Not every person, who became interested in self-development, has a strong will, a clear understanding of his goals and motivation enabling to move stubbornly towards them.

All these (strength of will, self-organization, etc.) are the very things that shall be achieved in the future during the self-improvement process. Such counsels by their effectiveness are comparable to attempts of making someone, who has never been engaged in stretching the muscles, do the splits. This “sportsman”, of course, will fail and it will discourage him from stretching the muscles forever.

In order to do the splits, one shall start, first of all, with something simpler and keep up a regular training, and, secondly, one shall prepare his body for exercise and stretching. If your body is not used to physical activity, the excess exercise can do harm to your health.

Using this analogy, two general rules, concerning the order of starting your self-development, shall be derived.

Personal Development Shall Start Small

It shall go smoothly and gradually. You cannot do without resistance at all, but the tension shall be minimized.

Not everyone is ready to change the life sharply and promptly: to start cultivating one’s abilities, to throw the bad habits, to take sports, to read good books, to get new knowledge. People get used to their way of life, for this reason, they cannot reorganize it and start changing for the better with a wave of a magic wand.

Therefore, the counsels of “set goals and follow them” – series can only discourage an inquisitive and interested in self-development reader, because of setting very difficult, at the moment, tasks. Someone may try to carry them out, get disappointed and decide that “personal development” is not for him.

Therefore, within the framework of my self-development program, we will start small with a simple, but very effective method. This will be discussed a little bit later.

Your Mind Shall be Prepared for Work and Changes, Just As the Body Has to Be Prepared for Physical Activity

Reflect on all the things that prevent you from starting to change for the better, just start moving towards your dreams? Many people are inert, lazy and disorganized. Perhaps, they do have some dreams, but they have not enough strength to lead to their boldest plans’ implementation. Their mind is simply unprepared to any change: it lacks flexibility and awareness. Therefore, before change, one shall prepare himself for metamorphoses.

We shall start with this.

Meditation is a Good Beginning

I suggest starting the self-development with meditation. In the Russian Internet (I am from Russia), the sources telling about meditation are full of all kinds of esoterics. And, sometimes, it is difficult to select from all this abundance of information the one about chakras and energy – something really worthwhile and useful.

Therefore, the average Russian reader far from any esoterics experiences persistent distrust and skepticism towards meditation. In my Russian blog, I always have to write about what meditation, in an applied sense, is. It is not magic, not religion, not a means of nirvana achievement, not a way to become a monk who does feel neither emotions, nor attachments. Meditation is a well-practiced relaxation and concentration exercise used in everyday urban life, which has helped and is helping many people to cope with stress, to solve problems and to calm the mind.

In the English-speaking Internet, in my opinion, the situation is much better: you can find a lot of websites that will provide information about meditation with maximum clarity without any vague religious and mystical nonsense.

I can conclude that meditation is much better adapted for the western reality, rather than to the Russian one. Therefore, the skepticism degree among English-speaking reader shall be lower.
But, nevertheless, I’d like to say once again that meditation is not a religion (unless you make it so). It’s just a mental exercise that helps you control your inner world. Meditation is necessary for the mind, quite as well as physical activity is necessary for the body.

Why to Practise Meditation?

Because:

Meditation – It is not Difficult

Everyone is able to master this technique
We want to start small, right?

Practice Does Not Take Much Time

40 minutes per day is maximum.
This is not much at all. That is why meditation is available even for the laziest people.

Practice Disciplines

Regular practice will bring a bit of discipline in your life that is so necessary to many people lacking this quality.

Discipline represents a very important element of personal development. But there is no need to set high goals and difficult tasks: change your lifestyle, get rid of old habits – all this will come later. For a start just add 40 minutes of daily practice to your usual activities. I’m not asking too much.

Meditation Prepares the Mind for changes

It is clear that self-development requires personality change. First of all, you need a plan for change implementation (What are my weaknesses? What do I need to change in myself? What do I want?).

And secondly, the resource is the will that gives the opportunity to implement the plan.

Not every person knows what he really wants and dreams about. It is true, and many authors forget about it when they advise you to start your self-development with setting goals. Not everyone knows his goal.

Meditation is a powerful tool of self-knowledge that will help you become aware of your weaknesses and shortcomings, and understand your true desires as well. Practice helps to mobilize the will and revitalize in order to implement the plan.

Some people are constantly tense and nervous, and among all bustle cannot calm down and calmly ask themselves the following questions: Where shall I move next? What do I really want? Meditation helps to stop the mind inertia and to direct your look beyond the routine and bustle inside your true personality.

My Personal Development Began with Meditation

I started meditating in order to get rid of depression. I did not expect that this practice will open my eyes to a lot of my personal problems. I did not even suspect earlier about the existence of these problems!

Then I started to cultivate my abilities and I’ve changed very much (by the way, I did get rid of depression, as well as of many other health problems).

Meditation is my way, my experience. Most likely, this is not the only possible beginning of self-development. But, as my articles are based on my personal experience as well, I see no reason for inventing something different for you from the one that has helped me.

Practice

Read the post How to meditate properly – 5 steps

Begin to meditate for 20 minutes 2 times a day. Try to follow the regime strictly by daily meditation in the morning and evening. It is not difficult. Only in this way the practice will be effective.

If you have any questions, please, ask them in comments – I will try to answer them all. It would be nice if after a week of meditation, you could share your impressions in the comments. The information shall be public.

Do not expect quick results. This step does not mean that you have to feel something: some of you will feel some changes, some will not. It shall not focus your attention on this. Changes will be, but not at once!

Meditation is just a tool, a basic training, but not a goal! It is only the first step, a good exercise that will help you cultivate your abilities.
But, in addition to meditation, you must do a lot of work in order to get rid of shortcomings, to develop your best qualities, to find harmony and happiness.

Personal development is not easy. It will take a lot of work to achieve your goals. We started with a simple task, but gradually, in the following steps, we will increase the complexity of the tasks to make the self-development course balanced.

Take practice consciously. After two weeks of practice, try to evaluate the result of the work done.

  • Does practice teach you something?
  • Does practice help you relax, calm down and relieve stress?
  • How do you feel after meditation?
  • Does practice help you find solutions to problems or eliminate anxiety?
  • Do you manage to watch your emotions and thoughts while meditating?
  • Are you able to resist these emotions and thoughts?
  • Judging by your own experience, what life skills are developed due to meditation?

If you have difficulty with the answers to these questions, then do not worry. Two weeks of meditation is not enough. As two weeks of training in the gym is not enough for building strong muscles, two weeks of meditation may not be enough for you to feel the practice effect.

Continue to practice, follow the changes that occur to you, try to understand what meditation gives you and get out of it as much as possible.
After two weeks of practice, go to Step 2 – Awareness training.

7 Comments

  • Hello Nickolay,

    hope you are doing well.
    first i would like to thank you for sharing you personal experiences. i believe it will help a lot of people.

    my question is:
    when meditating, we concentrate on breathing, some thoughts or emotions will rise.
    as i learned how to practice meditation, i learned when ever a thought is coming up, just go back and focus on your breathing.
    other people would say, try not to fight those thoughts, just watch it and don’t judge it as it passes by.
    i’m struggling with this point. as i don’t know how to just watch and do not judge these thoughts or emotions. i do ignore it and get back to focus on breathing, but i don’t think this is what meant by let it pass by or watch it as it flows away.
    what is your recommendation based on your experience?

    Thank you!
    Adi

  • Adi, this point was a bit confusing for me too. But now it is clear. You have to “when ever a thought is coming up, just go back and focus on your breathing.” And when you focus on your breathing you are able to watch your thoughts without judgement, because it is impossible to focus on breathing and to get involved in thinking simultaneously! If you focus on breathing thoughts may pass like clouds and you can watch them from distance. But it will not happen every time. The most of the time you will be distracted by thoughts, and will get involved in them. It is normal. Simply redirect your attention on breathing, when you notice шею Don’t think about watching your thoughts, just watch your breath and observing your thoughts will come by itself as you watch your breath.

  • Hi Nik,

    Got in to your blog through Tiny Buddha article which u posted this week. Such a nice article. I am reading all the pages of this blog one by one today and have a small query about meditation.

    I am going to start meditating from tomorrow.also, walking an hour in the morning of every week end[ as no time on week days from 5AM till 10PM]. Is it Okay to meditate for 20 minutes once you get back home after an hour of walking?? Does it cause any side effects?

  • Hi Anitha!

    Walking is great! When you walk you can develop your awareness as while meditating: just try to pay attention to trees, buildings, everything that surrounds you. Don’t wander a lot in your mind and your problems, just become and observer, investigator! When your mind starts wandering simply redirect your attention on observation, as you do while meditating. It’s also a type of meditation, but not a replacement for sitting meditation. After it meditate=) If you have panic attacks or depression sometimes meditation can increase fear or bad mood, but only for one or two weeks in the beginning of practice. After it you will feel better. If you experience some fears just study to observe them from the sideline, don’t get involved in them. No other side effects, I suppose.

  • Thanks Nik for the prompt response. Keep up your good writing skills. God bless you!

  • Hello Nicolay

    What’s the food intake schedule for meditation….should we do meditation after meal or before meal or how much difference we should make between meals and do we have to bath before meditation?? Or should we do it early in the morning?
    These are some doubts I am confused about??

  • Hi, kudo!

    Better to do meditation before meal, because food digestion process can distract you. And better to do it after bath.

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