KAIZEN = Japanese word meaning constant and never-ending improvement.
Success on the outside begins with success on the inside. If you really want to improve your outer world (health, relationships, finances, etc.) you must first improve your inner world. The most effective way to do this is through the practice of continuous self-improvement. Self-mastery is the DNA of life mastery.
Change is the most powerful force in our society today. Most people fear it. The wise embrace it. Self-Improvement implies continuous change. What once got you here wont get you there. Evolution (therefore, self-progress) implies continuous change, adaptation and openness for new concepts.
Zen tradition speaks of a beginner’s mind: those who keep their minds open to new concepts — those whose cups are always empty — will always move to higher levels of achievement and fulfillment.
And once you take the time to build a strong character – full of discipline, energy, power and optimism – you can have anything and do anything you want in your outer world.
When you have cultivated a deep sense of faith in your abilities and an indomitable spirit, nothing can stop you from succeeding in all your pursuits and living with great rewards.
Master your mind, care for your body and nourish your soul.
“The only limits on your life are those that you set yourself.” (Yogi Raman)
Here are the 3 steps towards self-mastery and mastery over life’s circumstance:
1 – Once you go out of your circle of comfort and explore the unknown you start to liberate your true human potential. Push yourself daily. Work hard to improve your mind and body. Nourish your spirit. Do the things you have always wanted to do but didn’t because you tricked yourself into believing that you were too young, too old, too rich or too poor.
2 – Identify the things that are holding you back. Make a written inventory of your weaknesses… then, do the things you fear. Remember that fear is nothing more than a negative stream of consciousness. No experience is inherently painful or pleasant. It is your thinking that makes it so. It’s all a matter of conditioning. Fear is a conditioned response that sucks life, energy and creativity out of you. Fear is your own creation, so you must do the thing you fear the most.
3 – Truly enlightened people are prepared to put off short-term pleasure for the sake of long-term fulfillment. Stop procrastination and get things done.
Once you start to explore (1) new ways for improving your mind and body, (2) facing fears and (3) thinking on long-term accomplishment rather than short-term escapades, start on building rituals. Excellence is nothing but a habit. Use the following 10 rituals to build your new and improved best version of yourself.
The Ten Rituals of Radiant Living:
I – The Ritual of Solitude. Include a mandatory period of peace on your daily schedule. Take time to explore the healing power of silence and come to know who you really are. Think of the Ritual of Solitude as a pit-stop for the soul. Its purpose is self-renewal and this is accomplished by spending time alone, immersed in the beautiful blanket of silence. Solitude and quiet connects you to your creative source and releases the limitless intelligence of the Universe. The Ritual of Solitude works best when you practice it at the same time every day because it becomes integrated into your routine as a ritual and habit that you will never neglect. Explore this ritual by also commuting with nature daily.
II – The Ritual of Physicality. As you care for the body so you care for the mind. Exercise. Do some Yoga! Take vigorous walking in natural surroundings and breathe fresh air. To breathe properly is to live properly. The art of effective breathing adds on energy. Proper breathing requires you to take in more oxygen to liberate your energy reserves along with your natural state of vitality. Breathe more deeply and from the abdomen. Cup your hands over the stomach and feel its soft movement.
III – The Ritual of Live Nourishment. Fuel your body with live foods. Take on a vegetarian diet, rich with fruits, vegetables and grains. A poor diet has a pronounced effect on your life. It drains your mental and physical energy. It affects your moods and it hampers the clarity of your mind.
IV – The Ritual of Abundant Knowledge. Expand your learning skills and your knowledge base for the good of yourself and all those around you. Not applied knowledge is only potential power. Applied knowledge manifests itself as wisdom. Read regularly but be selective, aiming for books that will improve both you and the quality of your life. Don’t just read. Re-read, study, analyze and take it all in, then put it to practice. But be sharp: some books are meant to be tasted, some books are meant to be chewed and, finally, some books are meant to be swallowed whole. Read the right books. The answers and solutions of life’s problems and challenges are all recorded on the pages of books. Learn how those who have preceded you have handled the challenges you are currently facing. Apply their strategies for success and you will be astonished by the improvements you will note in your life. Be aware that the “right books” depends on your good judgment, but a good starting point is to study the biographies of those you admire. It’s not what you will get out of the books that is so enriching — it is what the books will get out of you that will ultimately change your life. Books do not actually teach you anything new. Books simply help you to see what is already within your self.
V – The Ritual of Personal Reflection. Take time to get to know yourself and connect to a dimension of your being that you never knew you had. Search for your hidden talents. By becoming wiser inwardly you’ll start feeling more at ease with yourself. Take Benjamin Franklin’s example: Every evening, after a full day of productive work, he would retire to a silent corner of his home and reflect on his day. He would consider all of his actions and whether they were positive and constructive or whether they were of the negative sort, in need of repair. By clearly knowing what he was doing wrong in his days, he could take immediate steps to improve and advance along the path of self-mastery. So, take a written inventory of your day. List your activities and interactions. List your thoughts. Get introspective. By looking at what you are doing, how you are spending your day and the thoughts you are thinking, you give yourself a benchmark for measuring improvement. The only way to improve tomorrow is to know what you did wrong today. Stop making the same mistakes over and over again. Eliminate your lack of self-awareness.
VI – The Ritual of Early Awakening. Make it a habit to rise with the sun. Remember that it is the quality of sleep that is important (not the quantity). Sleep provides your body with rest, processes the gathered information along the day and restores your energy levels. Before you go to sleep, don’t watch the news or argue with anyone or even go over the day’s events in your mind’s eye. Just relax! After waking up, start the day off well. Think positive thoughts. Give a prayer of thanks for all you have. Work on your gratitude list. Laugh! Laughing is medicine for the soul. Then, ask yourself this question: “What would I do today if today was my last?” What would you do? How would you treat people? Visualize your day beforehand.
VII – The Ritual of Music. Music is a spiritual boost, a motivator. It has the power to make you laugh, dance and sing.
VIII – The Ritual of the Spoken Word. Reciting Mantras keep you focused, strong and happy. In Sanskrit, ‘MAN’ means ‘mind’ and ‘TRA’ means ‘freeing.’ So a mantra is a phrase which is designed to free the mind. Repeating a mantra aloud has a wonderful effect on your spirit. When in need for motivation, you might repeat, ‘I am inspired, disciplined and energized’. To keep your sense of self-confidence you might think, ‘I am strong, able and calm.’ What you say to others is important. What you say to yourself is even more important. You are your thoughts. You are your self-talk. What you say (to yourself and aloud) is a Mantra and it will be manifested in your external reality. So, choose your way to think and express yourself wisely. The words you say to yourself affect your self-image that determines what actions you take. Your self-image is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Words have power. By filling your mind with words of hope, you become hopeful. By filling your mind with words of kindness, you become kind. By filling your mind with thoughts of courage, you become courageous..
IX – The Ritual of a Congruent Character. This ritual requires you to take daily, incremental action to build your character. Strengthening your character affects the way you see yourself and the actions you take. Thoughts lead to actions that build habits. Your habits form your character which will pave your destiny. So, cultivate your virtues and create a meaningful life. Do the right thing. Act with integrity. Be guided by your heart.
X – The Ritual of Simplicity. One must never live in the thick of thin things. Live a simple life. Focus only on your priorities, those activities which are truly meaningful. Reduce your needs (for fame, fortune, food, glory, money, attention, helpfulness, etc.). If you will always want more than you have, how can you ever be happy? Stop picking up the phone every time it rings, stop wasting time reading junk mail, stop eating out three times a week, give up your golf-club membership and spend more time with your kids, spend a day a week without your watch, watch the sun rise every few days, sell your cellular phone and dump the pager.
In conclusion, always be brave. Stand your ground and follow your dreams. They will lead you to your destiny.
For more on the subject check Yogi Raman’s teachings