Today one of my meditation students asked me “How can I achieve self actualization with meditation?”
If you want to reach your highest self, I’ve got five types of meditation for self-actualization that will help you to get there.
The term “self-actualization” was coined by psychologist Abraham Maslow in the 1950s. It is the apex of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which are psychological and physiological needs. It means to achieve the fulfilment of our highest needs, that you are living to your fullest potential. Fulfilling the Hierarchy of Needs, Maslow said, leads an individual to achieve their ultimate purpose. 
When you achieve self-actualization, you will essentially achieve your purpose in life. But how do you get there? The secret is meditation.
There are five self-actualization meditations techniques that can help you to get there. I’ll share the meditations below (you might like to start by reading my guide to the top 31 types of meditation). But first, let’s look at what is self-actualization.
What Is Self-actualization?
Self-actualization is the highest point on the hierarchy of needs.
The hierarchy of needs is broken into five sections:
- First comes physiological needs, such as the need for water, food and sleep, the very foundations of survival.
- Next comes safety, the need to have a secure environment.
- Our next need is love and the desire to belong.
- Self-esteem comes next. We need to a sense of accomplishment and the appreciation, recognition and respect of others.
- Finally, we get to self-actualization.
The peek of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, self-actualization, refers to deep characteristics that are hallmarks of an enlightened mind. These are characteristics exhibited by people how have obtained self actualization.
The following are the most prominent qualities of a self actualized person, what Maslow called “higher level being values”:
- Self determination
- Clear perception of reality
- Acceptance of others
- The ability to hold meaningful relationships
- Appreciation of life
- A sense of direction and goals
- The ability to express emotions
- Strong ethics
- Has accessed subconscious mind
- No need for recognition
- Has fewer but deeper relationships
- Knows their purpose and life mission
These are the highest traits an individual can possess, Maslow said, and importantly, they are not dependent on the lower needs.
History is full of celebrated leaders, artist, politicians and other notables who were certainly self-actualized but who did not have safety (the second level of the hierarchy of needs). Mahatma Ghandi is an obvious example.
It might seem logical to think that to achieve self-actualization is a feat only the most gifted among us can achieve. Maslow believed differently. He explained that the self-actualized ren’t superhuman, but rather that the self-actualized individual is a regular mortal who has had nothing robbed of them.
‘I think of the self-actualizing man not as an ordinary man with something added, but rather as the ordinary man with nothing taken away,’ Maslow said.
How To Achieve Self Actualization [Meditation Techniques]
By the laws of nature, we are meant to be self-actualized. But life prevents us from being so. It can often seem impossible to achieve self-actualization. The average person is far too concerned with the lower levels of the hierarchy of needs. They worry about achieving financial security and buying a home and things like that. They strive to fit in so that they belong. And of course, food, drink, and other necessities are always top of mind.
How can you achieve self-actualization when you have all these other demands? There are methods to reach self isolation. But the key is to tune in to your true self. In many ways, self-actualization seems counterpoint to our modern-day concerns. Most needs are about material possession and social status; in other words, external factors. Self-actualization is an inward matter, a psychological, spiritual, and personal need.
How, then, do we begin to recognize and to fulfil our inner needs? Meditation. Meditation is a powerful way of discovering our inward needs and fulfilling them. Meditation enables us to quieten external noise, the abundances of thoughts, and sensory reality so that we can see the truth within us. As The Chopra Center says, meditation “allows us to experience our own source”. Meditation is unique in this. There is no other practice that leads to sustained insight in the manner meditation does.
There are five self actualization meditation techniques that are particularly. These self-actualization meditations produce insight, giving us a clear view of our deepest selves. They clear away the thoughts, doubts, fears, and worries holding us hostage. They free so we can achieve our highest needs. To become self actualized, practise these meditations.
Anapanasati is one of the essential Buddhist meditation techniques and has been in existence since around the 6th Century BC. Anapanasati begins by focusing the mind on the breath. We observe how the breath moves around the body. We then observe how thoughts and feelings come and go. It is a gentle process of inner observation.
Anapanasati trains the mind to let go of superfluous thoughts and emotions. This, in turn, gives us the freedom and courage to focus on what truly matters.
Anapanasati also helps us to be much more mindful. Maslow’s theory of self actualization states that we should be immersed in the moment, which is the same as saying that we should be mindful. And mindful breathing is the best way to develop that trait.
Vipassana is similar to Anapanasati. It begins with mindfulness of breath. We simply observe the breath moving through the body. Then we begin to watch the mind. When the mind wanders, we observe this and label it. For instance, if the mind wanders towards a sound, we say “Sound” or “Hearing”.
This technique trains the mind to see things for what they are. What makes this one of the best self actualization meditation techniques is that it gives us a clear perception of reality (which is one of the signs of self-actualization). Too often in life, we take one thing to mean another. A very common example: we hear a door slam, fear an argument, and physiologically respond with a release of adrenaline. When the mind can simply say “That is just a sound” we stop being so reactive and we are more able to focus on our aims and on what actually matters.
Trataka is one of the best meditations in yoga. Trataka means “Still Gazing”. It is a yogic meditation in which we focus the eyes on one thing. For instance, we may focus our gaze on a candle. We then hold the eyes still. Still eyes, it is said, will produce a still mind. When we train the eyes to be still, we train the mind to be still. A still and balanced mind is more resilient, less likely to be led astray, and more able to focus.
4: Om Mantra
Self-actualization can be thought of as returning to home. Maslow said that a self-actualized person is not a superhuman but a regular person stripped of nothing. When we return to our pure state, we naturally achieve self-actualization. One way to do this is with the Om mantra. A mantra is a sacred sound with healing powers. Om is the primordial and universal sound. It is a sound that returns us to our point of infinite creativity. Maslow’s guidelines state that we should moved past ego, and the Om mantra helps us to do precisely that.
5: Third Eye Meditation
To achieve self-actualization, we first need to know what our inner needs are. We must gain insight to see and recognize our most profound truths. One way to access insight is to open the third-eye chakra (Ajna). When this chakra is activated, we can see within; we can perceive our truest and deepest selves. One way to activate the third-eye chakra is with meditation. To do this, we use the Shambhavi mudra, which simply involves focusing the eyes on Ajna (the space between the eyebrows).
Self-actualization is the trait of the truly successful, not the ones with the material possessions, the ones who truly change the world. And it is a trait we all have the potential to achieve.
As a meditation teacher, I have helped many people use meditation for self-actualization. Meditation can silence both external and internal noise, empowering us to perceive our true selves.