By Karin Leonard
The spring/summer issue of “What is Enlightenment?” magazine compares and contrasts self-mastery with spirituality. Interestingly, the publishers had difficulty finding female professionals in the personal development field willing to use the word “Mastery”. These women felt the term means controlling oneself and others, and would block the process of spiritual unfolding from within. Since I happen to be female, and because I have stood by “Personal Mastery” ( as a column since 1993), I’d like to share a different view.
Master the Process
Practicing the “Kaizen” of Personal Mastery means that you are committed to the continuous improvement of everything you do, in all areas of your life. This is an ongoing journey of learning, where your results reflect feedback for the future, not failure. Moreover, mastery implies that because you value your innate gifts, you set up structures and support in your life, in order to fully and reliably express them. So-called self-discipline, then, is not an act of controlling and punishing yourself, but is motivated by self-love.
Mastery doesn’t block unfolding from within, but catalyzes and sustains it. For some exceptional folks it may be fine to just flow with the spontaneous expression of the self, yet for the rest of us, both inspiration and structure are required. Inspiration alone risks loosing momentum, and structure without spirit crumbles in the dust. In my private practice for example, my clients may engage in deep hypnotic process work, and we also discuss specific daily actions to follow through on the inner shifts that have occurred.
“Mastery” does not necessarily imply “controlling” anyone, including oneself. What works over time is to integrate the various and often conflicting aspects of personality. The goal is to get all of you on the same team, working together, instead of internal struggle, sometimes bordering on warfare. For example, you may well be able to make yourself stay away from cigarettes, for a while… But eventually the “control” stops working, and the old habits come back. Unless the reasons why you smoked in the first place are addressed effectively, change is unlikely to last. To develop enduring new good habits, all parts of your being need to be honored and understood, not suppressed and conquered.
As you create internal synergy, your personal power grows, and you then naturally take the driver’s seat to your destiny. This includes assuming complete responsibility for the direction your life is headed. You realize that you can create anything you want, within your circle of influence, and according to your skills, talents and competence. Some say this takes self-discipline. I prefer to use the term personal power, and with that the willingness to be at choice. Real power comes from listening to the stirrings of soul. Becoming who you are meant to be means living in harmony with the mysterious heartbeat of life itself. Unfolding your potential can not be made to happen from the level of ego, it can only be supported by creating the right conditions.
In the end, Personal Mastery is the journey of tapping your full potential as a human being – through being the leader of your life, and by co-creating with the spirit that runs through you.