Holistic development includes not just the development of professional expertise, financial and emotional intelligence, but also spiritual growth and evolving.

The traditional tertiary and professional education largely involves developing intellect, in particular the skills of reasoning, analysis, problem-solving and memory.

It trains us to see ourselves as a mind and a body. Because of this, most of us largely operate from a space where we understand the importance of developing our mental and physical capabilities.

Further to this, our compensation at work is also based on our mental and physical skills and this further re-enforces the paradigm of us identifying ourselves as simply a mind and a body.

This type of deeply held unconscious belief results in an existence that requires external validation and material possessions to sustain a feeling of happiness and peace.

Humans are more than just a mind and a body. We also possess natural heart-based and spiritual intelligence which can be developed further.

So, why should you develop these intelligences? Because the implications are profound.

Developing our spiritual and heart intelligence can help us avoid overwhelm and produce a naturally coherent state, which helps us connect with others better and the world. This was validated by The Heart Math Institute and research conducted by the American Journal of Cardiology.

In fact, increased synchronicity between the heart and brain leads to improved emotional balance, stability in behaviours, increased access to intuition and enhanced mental functions (ability to focus, memory, reaction times, coordination etc).

Spiritual growth is not an airy-fairy concept.

Far from it!

Spiritual growth encourages us to feel more and think less. It helps us trust and connect with the intuitive guidance of our heart, allowing us to solve problems that cannot be solved by logical and rational thinking alone.

It is about understanding the world around us, our connectedness with the world and using our highest intelligence that can perceive situations through intuition and possibilities through imagination.

In her book SQ 21, the author Cindy Wigglesworth talks about spiritual intelligence being different from religion. It is something that can be developed either within or independent of religious belief or tradition.

Having heart-based, intuitive and spiritual intelligence also helps us operate more consciously and this can better help us manage personal and professional situations.

Instead of reacting and being drawn into the situation, we build the inner capacity to observe the situation from outside, measure our response and avoid reacting from a fear based perspective. A fear based reaction makes us retreat to a familiar behavioural or emotional pattern.

This could mean an emotional outburst, avoiding the situation (flight response), arrogant or aggressive behavior, denial, over-eating, drinking or another fear based survival mechanism.

Spiritual growth helps create a vision of our highest purpose. It provides tools to raise our energy frequency, move away from ego and move towards the truth.

Whilst these changes cannot always be measured by science, the people who experience these transformations, feel a fundamental change in how they deal with circumstances.

William James, who was both a physician and a psychologist, talked extensively about the human psychology in his writings. James observed that spiritual awakening resulted in a change in perceptions with positive practical consequences, including characteristics such as increased patience, enhanced fortitude and compassion towards others.

The first step towards increased spiritual growth is to get in touch with your highest self.

Here are a list of questions that will help you do that. Try and answer these questions honestly and without over-thinking. Don’t try to be too intelligent or measured with your responses. Clear your mind, spend a few moments in solitude and stillness. Minimise body movements. Be brief.

1. In this moment, what do you want?

2. In this moment, what is your biggest fear?

3. In this moment, what do you require to feel happy?

4. In this moment, what do you feel is your highest purpose in this world?

5. In this moment, what is missing in your life?

After answering the above questions, spend some time in silent reflection of your responses.

Remember, spiritual growth is about maturity, wisdom and enlightenment. It can help you unlock your highest intelligence.

Originally published at medium.com