What if growth were an inward not outward direction?

in meditation practice, the best way to get somewhere is to let go of trying to get anywhere at all – Jon Kabat-Zinn

I’ve been writing and thinking a lot about personal growth recently. In general, I’m quite a growth-minded person. I like to think I’m achieving, getting somewhere, improving. The idea that growth might be something different to this is quite new to me. But reading Jon Kabat-Zinn’sĀ Wherever You Go, There You Are,Ā and doing a lot of exploration of myself this year, has lead me to wonder whether a more healthy version of growth might be one that takes us inwards, rather than outwards.

Outward vs Inward Growth

Our society is, I think, set up for outward growth. Something you can chart on a line – moving from one achievement to the next. Whether this is awards in school, or promotions in business. It’s all the same. We’re encouraged to keep moving forwards, striving for the next thing.

A meditation practice asks us to be still and present with what is. This is perhaps why so many of us (myself included) find it so hard. There is nowhere to go, nothing to attain or reach for. It teaches us to look inside, at ourselves and where we are now. This is the route to real personal change and growth:

If we hope to go anywhere, or develop ourselves in any way, we can only step from where we are standing – Jon Kabat-Zinn

Thinking of growth differently

So what if we started to think of growth not as a straight line clearly charting achievements, but as a meandering path getting deeper inside ourselves? Working its way closer to the glowing core of us, deepening our understanding of who we are, what we want and what we’re here to do.

If growth was less competitive, and more individual and holistic we might get less issues around anxiety and perfectionism and more confidence, creativity and increased wellbeing. Just a thought.


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