Self Development Takes Many Forms


why go on a spiritual retreat Middle Class Dad woman meditating on a dock at the edge of a lake

We all want to live a life full of purpose, prosperity and happiness.

What that looks like is different for every individual. Taking on new vocations, hobbies or skills is a powerful way to learn about yourself, your limits and your tendencies and can help you grow into a fuller expression of who you are. We take a look at some classic areas of self development and look at modern solutions for learning these perennial skills.

Sun Salutation

Yoga has never been more accessible to beginners, with a huge range of different classes, styles and instructors available to explore both online and in-person.

Yoga has a broad range of benefits that impact both the body and mind, and at higher levels can impart profound teachings about your meaning in the world and our relationship to our bodies and other people. But don’t worry, you don’t need to be seeking enlightenment to get a huge benefit from regular yoga practice. It’s a potent form of stress relief, and helps stave off injury by strengthening muscle groups often overlooked by conventional gym exercise.

One of the biggest names in yoga today is Adriene Mishler, a Texas based YouTube yogi who has been guiding classes on the platform for over 10 years and has a comprehensive library of courses and classes designed to invite newcomers into the practice.

Adriene also hosts a community of practitioners on her Find What Feels Good app and social network, where you can participate in live classes and connect with fellow students.

Hands Down

Games in general are a great way to build mental agility and strategic thinking.

Games such as Chess have been played by generals and Kings for millennia who have looked to them as a powerful microcosm for both the battlefield, and life itself. Similarly, the Chinese game Go, has been lauded by Buddhist monks seeking wisdom in the experience of play. The popular card game poker, for example, is deceptively sophisticated. To play it well requires nuance and subtlety.

Doug Holk is a retired professional poker player who now has an established following on his YouTube channel.

He’s developed the training application Upswing Poker, which coaches you on how to strategically respond to randomly generated hands and game scenarios in real time. The app then rates your decisions and gives insights into alternative moves you could have made, all with probabilities listed alongside.

For those wanting to take their training deeper, Polk also runs an online community of the same name with Ryan Fee and Matt Colletta which is one of the leading coaching sites out there, with courses running on all aspects of the game.

Dear Diary

This one appears deceptively simple. Journaling in one form or another is a practice as old as humanity and has a powerful breadth of applications when it comes to self development.

Journaling has done much to shake off its “dear diary” stigma in recent years and has been embraced by the mindfulness and mental health movements as a potent self-reflective practice. There are a variety of ways you can use journaling to draw out insight and clarity about your life and emotional state.

One method that has grown in popularity is the referred to as “Morning Pages”. The idea originates from Julia Cameron’s groundbreaking book on using creativity as a spiritual practice, The Artist’s Way and is a fantastic starting point for anyone considering trying journaling. The aim of this practice is to write down three pages of unedited stream of consciousness reflection and thoughts each morning.

By not judging the content as you write it, your feelings and thoughts about various situations or relationships in your life bypass your internal censors and end up on the page.

This is a great form of stress relief, and enables you to look at problems in your life, identify problematic behavior or thought patterns, and approach situations in new ways.

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a husband, father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market. Click to learn more about me

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