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What is Self-transcendence?
Self-transcendence is a concept that refers to the ability to go beyond one’s own Self-interests, limitations, and Ego. It is often associated with spiritual growth, personal development, and psychological wellbeing. Self-transcendence can be seen as a process of expanding one’s Awareness, Perspective, and Compassion towards oneself and others. It can also be seen as a goal or a state of being that involves experiencing a sense of Connection, Meaning, and Purpose in life. A key part of Self-transcendence, is finding out true-self, this is our true, Authentic self; a stable platform from which to expand and transcend.
One person described it as:
A tremendous feeling of inner Unity, a feeling that all aspects of self are in alignment; in agreement, and a total confidence in self and of my own Purpose in life. I have no more dark thoughts, no more inner conflict, just a complete feeling of Self-esteem and positivity.
There are many ways to cultivate Self-transcendence, such as meditation, prayer, service, Altruism, creativity, nature, art, music, psychological therapy and love. These practices can help one to access a Deeper level of consciousness, where one can transcend the ordinary Sense of self and identity. Some people may also experience Self-transcendence spontaneously or through life events such as Near-death experiences, Mystical experiences, or Existential crises.
Benefits of Self-transcendence
Self-transcendence can have many benefits for one’s mental and physical health. It can enhance one’s happiness, resilience, coping skills, empathy, and Social relationships. It can also reduce Stress, Anxiety, Depression, and Egoism. Self-transcendence can also foster a sense of Awe, wonder, Gratitude, and joy in life.
Self-transcendence is not something that can be achieved overnight or by following a fixed formula. It is a lifelong journey that requires openness, curiosity, Humility, and courage. It is also a personal and unique experience that will vary from person to person. However, it is possible for anyone to develop Self-transcendence and enjoy its benefits. All it takes is a willingness to explore oneself and the world beyond the self.
Going beyond Ego
Self-transcendence is the ability to go beyond one’s own Ego and personal interests, and connect with Something greater than oneself, such as a Higher purpose, a spiritual dimension, or a universal value. Self-transcendence has been associated with various benefits for psychological wellbeing and Human flourishing. Some of these benefits are:
- Increased happiness and life Satisfaction: It can help people find Meaning and fulfilment in their lives, even in the face of adversity and suffering. By focusing on something larger than themselves, they can experience Positive emotions such as joy, Gratitude, Awe, and love.
- Enhanced resilience and coping: In addition, it can help people cope with Stress, Trauma, and loss, by providing them with a sense of hope, optimism, and faith. By transcending their personal problems, they can gain a broader Perspective and a more Profound understanding of their situation.
- Improved health and longevity: Self-transcendence can also have positive effects on physical health and longevity. Studies have strongly suggested that self-transcendent people tend to have lower levels of Inflammation, higher levels of Immune function, and Lower mortality rates. They may also engage in healthier behaviours such as exercise, meditation, and Altruism.
- Greater Social connectedness and Altruism: Furthermore, it can foster a sense of belonging and Compassion for others. By recognizing the Interdependence and common humanity of all beings, self-transcendent people may feel more empathic, cooperative, and generous. They may also be more willing to help others in need, even at a personal cost.
- Aspirational qualities: People who are self-transcendent tend to have numerous aspirational qualities, which are to the benefit of all.
These are some of the benefits of Self-transcendence that have been supported by scientific research. However, Self-transcendence is not a fixed trait that one either has or does not have. Rather, it is a dynamic process that can be cultivated and enhanced through various practices and experiences. Some examples of these are:
- Meditation and mindfulness: These practices can help people quiet their mind, reduce their Ego attachment, and increase their Awareness of the present moment. They can also facilitate the experience of transcendence by inducing states of consciousness that go beyond the ordinary Sense of self.
- Nature and art: These domains can also elicit feelings of transcendence by exposing people to beauty, wonder, and Awe. They can also inspire people to appreciate the complexity and Harmony of the natural world and the human creativity.
- Spirituality and Religion: These aspects can also foster Self-transcendence by providing people with a sense of Purpose, direction, and Connection to a higher power or reality. They can also offer people with Rituals, symbols, and narratives that express their transcendent values and aspirations.
- Service and activism: These activities can also promote Self-transcendence by engaging people in causes that are meaningful and beneficial for others. They can also challenge people to overcome their selfishness, prejudice, and indifference.
Visit our transcendence strategies and techniques page for a comprehensive list of tools and methods to achieve Self-transcendence.
Self-transcendence is a valuable quality that can enhance various aspects of human well-being and flourishing. It can be developed and nurtured through various practices and experiences that help people go beyond their Ego Boundaries and connect with something greater than themselves.
Self-transcendence is available to people from all walks of life, and of all beliefs and opinions. Atheists, for example, are included in this as much as people of faith.
In addition to helping all people become their best version of themselves, transcendence theory can also be applied to a wide range of common mental health problems and research has shown in numerous instances it can be more effective than other forms of mental health therapy.
The journey to Self-transcendence is not always easy. Sometimes one has to go “backwards” to go forwards, in so much as positive initial steps can seemingly turn sour, making the transcendence process look, in some cases, like the development of mental health issues. It’s been noted that some people with mental health diagnoses may well be showing short-term negative side effects of transcendence, due to increased inner knowledge. These issues can often be resolved with further inner work. Please refer to our article on the positive and negative forms of Self-transcendent experiences.
Here are some links that might help you with Self-transcendence meditation:
- Self-transcendence in meditation by Sri Chinmoy Centre
- Examining interpersonal Self-transcendence as a potential mechanism by ScienceDirect
- Transcendental Meditation® Technique – Official Website by TM.org
- What is Self-transcendence? Definition and 6 Examples (+PDF) by Positive Psychology
- Transcendental Meditation and Its Many Benefits by Verywell Mind