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The Relationship Between Spirituality and Personal Growth

the yoga of personal & professional growth

This article on Spiritual Yoga for Personal & Professional Growth is part of our Yoga Practice section of our Essential Guide to Spiritual Yoga.

The Yoga of Meaningful Living: The Connection Between Spirituality and Personal Growth

How Does Spiritual Development Permit Growth?

Growth requires opening our (current) self up in ways that we don’t control. And ‘openness’ is more accessible from a place of inner stability. When we no longer habitually run from our inner lives, we are more inclined to honour our own needs and inspirations—we are, in other words, more inclined to being ourself and to being okay with ourself. Guided by a personal vision that draws on our innate strengths and inspirations (and not trapped in ego-protection), we are more inclined to fearlessly explore and pursue opportunities to realize our vision; our vision, in other words, becomes more important than our ego, more important than ourselves. In other words, growth is just the result of freeing ourselves from limitations imposed by our habitual self’s desire for recognition or security. The yoga lifestyle is one of continuous growth produced by continuous opening. A yogic lifestyle requires, most basically, no longer being self-obsessed.

But this is difficult if we remain trapped in/by our unwanted thoughts and painful emotions. Whether we like it or not, our unwanted thoughts and painful emotions determine so much of our lives, but only because we avoid them. Avoiding our unwanted feelings & thoughts often involves avoiding people and situations that produce these feelings and thoughts, including the very people and situations that are an important part of pursuing our most meaningful projects and a meaningful life.⁣ And as this list of people and situations (that we feel compelled to avoid) grows, life becomes narrower and narrower, and we become more rigid. In other words, by avoiding whatever triggers uncomfortable emotions, we miss opportunities for growth, freedom, and connection with others and ourselves. (And freedom is unavailable to those who remain imprisoned by themselves.) What is yoga lifestyle? The yoga lifestyle is based on being able to sit with difficult aspects of your inner life. A yogic lifestyle is fearless: fearlessness is just no longer running from our anxieties, our unwanted thoughts, and painful emotions. (And running from—or trying to destroy—our anxieties just means that our anxieties are in control).

Changing our habitual self requires confronting habits of avoidance and owning up to the thoughts/emotions that we’re inclined to avoid. Focusing our efforts on making our implicit habits more explicit will allow us to see how our flourishing is tied up in the tangled emotions connected to the things we avoid. This is what it means to change your karma.

Our guide to meditation is part of our Yoga Practice section of our Guide to Yoga Spirituality and contains the traditional purpose of meditation and how it might be able to facilitate personal growth and self-improvement (in addition, of course, to spiritual growth and development). In the context of spiritual yoga, our article on how to do yoga poses correctly discusses the role of attention in yoga practices.

Yoga, Spiritual Growth, and Spiritual Development for Personal Growth

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