7 Ways to Enhance Self-Transcendence

Self-transcendence is natural and healthy. How will you nurture it?

Chair on the beach looking out over the lake, sun and horizon

1. Discover what puts you into Theta
Theta is that “twilight” state between waking and sleeping. It is the home of inspiration, insight—those great ideas that evaporate if you don’t write them down when they wake you at 3:00 a.m.


Depending on your learning style (auditory, visual, kinesthetic), different environments or activities will enhance your ability to tap into the Theta state more easily. (Suggested reading: Open Mind by Dawna Markova.)


Observe yourself. What works for you? Take a walk. Take a shower. Go for a drive. Play with your animals. Go to an art gallery. Or a concert. Surround yourself with vital sights, sounds, aromas, textures, tastes, physical sensations—and see what causes you to lift off into that “non-self” space that is purely present and transcendent.


Tip: Activities that stimulate both sides of the brain are the healthiest. This would include any activity that engages arms and legs moving in opposition, such as: walking, running, jogging, cross-country skiing, T’ai Chi, Qigong, dancing. Brain Gym® is one of the best.


2. Practice meditation
Not everybody can sit on a cushion for extended periods of time. Perhaps you’re one of those who can. If you are, notice if your meditation contributes to self-transcendence, or do you tend to space out? If you’re more spacey than inspired, you might try some of the more grounded options.


Meditative states can also arise in walking, listening, and the mindful practice of paying deep attention. Experiment with various forms of meditation (even simply following the breath) to discover what best leads you into the “Being” states of actualization and transcendence.


3. Carve out time for creative activities
Just like transcendence, you can’t force creativity. Just ask any artist or writer who’s blocked: Nothing. No ideas. No inspiration. Your mind feels like a desert. And no matter how hard you try, nada!


But you can create an environment that encourages creativity. One of Maslow’s key observations about creativeness is that achieving absorption into what he called “the matter-in-hand” can lead to inspiration, novel solutions, and even self-transcendence.


Try this: Remember a time when you were so absorbed in an activity that you became unaware of anything else going on. What did that feel like? What was your experience? Was it transcendent? What were you doing (or not doing)? Could you include more of that in your daily life?


A key to unlocking your creativity: Don’t worry about “performing” or “perfecting.” Just “noodle.” Allow yourself to “go childlike” and play. This is the “dance like no one is watching” approach. Have fun and see what happens.


4. Keep a Journal
Even if writing isn’t your strong suit, I suggest keeping a journal. Find a time that works for you and just write something. (See The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. She suggests “morning pages.” Mine are more often “evening pages. It doesn’t really matter.)


One reason journaling works as a self-transcendence practice is that putting your thoughts and feelings on paper gets them out of your head and out where you can see them. They become objects that are no longer running your life. You can decide to keep or discard the thought or feeling and move on from there.


You may also discover that another voice (that voice of inner guidance called The Wise Inner Counselor™ may emerge—even in the midst of your complaints, worries, sorrows, or wrestling with a problem. And with it may come encouragement, comfort, solutions, and creative inspiration.


There are many types of journals: daily, gratitude, visual, dream. You can create a journal on any topic you want and put in it anything you want. The goal is to give voice to what in you needs to be spoken. (See “Journaling Your Way to Wisdom,” Reflection 10 in Reflections on Being Your True Self in Any Situation. )


Try this: Before you begin to write in your journal, pose a question such as: What do I need to know right now? Then open yourself to what comes. The voice of Love in you always speaks on behalf of your highest good and may surprise you with solutions you never imagined.


5. Get out into Nature
My two favorite poet/philosophers (William Wordsworth and John O’Donohue) each found transcendence in Nature. I consider it no accident that they both lived in the “thin place” of the British Isles where mystery inhabits the very soil of the land, the mist in the air, and the sound of the sea.


Of course, there are “thin places” all over the world. Your heart is one of them—when you open it to the profound “is-ness” of Nature herself. Pay deep attention to rivers and streams, rocks and mountains, valleys and glens, tall grasses and tiny lichen. Breath in the scent of harmony abiding in even the tiniest plot of grass and feel yourself transported into the transcendence of Nature’s wisdom and presence. (Suggested reading: Idylls from the Garden of Spiritual Delights & Healing. It was written from this state of communion with Nature.)


6. Engage in Shadow Work
Several decades ago Ken Wilber and others who had meditated for years observed in themselves and other long-time meditators that sitting wasn’t sufficient for personal growth.


Many advanced meditators and spiritual teachers did not sustain their elevated consciousness in daily life. In fact, some of them weren’t at all nice people. The problem proved to be a lack of “shadow work.” (See “Overcoming the Shadow in Work and Life,” Reflection 22 in Reflections on Doing Your Great Work in Any Occupation.)


It is natural to avoid delving into your unconscious mind. Who knows what monsters lie in wait? But the real inner work happens when we bring that darkness to light. This is one reason I advocate journaling as a spiritual/psychological practice. Rather than glossing over those “terrible things” we may think or feel, putting then on paper, naming them, letting them have their say where they won’t hurt anybody dilutes their apparent power.


Of course, not everybody is comfortable embarking on this inner journey alone. Which is one reason I have focused on my personal learning and growth. My willingness to dive into the deep end of consciousness has led to greater psychological health. (See The Psychology of Transcendence.)


7. Practice Excellence
Your natural soul gifts are not only beautiful but excellent. Doing great work, no matter what your current position, helps prime the pump of excellence. Any type of energy attracts vibrations like itself. So, if you are practicing excellence (living in a way consistent with “intrinsic values”), you will naturally attract more excellence.


Attendees in my workshops on career excellence often ask how to expand their influence. My answer: Bloom where you’re planted. Dig into what is before you. Love it. Master it. And observe how life calls you to what’s next—both personally and professionally.


For 7 more ways to enhance your self-transcendence, see “Appendix A: Enhancing Your Transcendence” in Reflections on Creating Your Luminous Life: Self-Transcendence from the Inside Out.