How Meditation Can Help You Develop 9 Practical Superpowers
I grew up reading comic books, full of stories about people with incredible powers, people who became heroes by using their powers for the good of others.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
Would you choose invisibility, flying, super-strength, being impervious to injury, heat vision, x-ray vision, or some other power? There are a lot of choices out there.
But how much would these powers really improve your life?
If you could fly, wouldn’t you basically be the same person, with pretty much the same problems? Instead of walking around, you’d be flying. I admit, that’s got to be pretty awesome for a while. But would it really help you, in the grand scheme of things?
As I got older, I realized that what I want is practical superpowers. I’m not sure that I need to be bulletproof or be able to lift a car with one hand, but I do want powers that will help me face the challenges of life with courage, compassion, and love; I want powers that will truly make life better for everyone.
I’ve also learned that meditation is an incredibly effective way of developing these powers, especially when the focus of your meditation is your emotional center.
So here are 9 superpowers that are practical . If you have these powers, your life will be a lot better.
Control your temper. The ability to control your temper is super-important, even in the comic books. How many heroes have been brought down by their temper? A lot. In real life it's also hugely important; controlling your temper is a basic element of emotional self-control. Bruce Banner didn't turn into the Hulk unless he lost his temper. That is a good lesson for us all.
Related power: control your fear.
How to get this power: Every kind of meditation is an exercise in self-control, so every kind of meditation will help you control your temper to some extent. I have found that meditation techniques that use a full breath and involve the holding of the breath, are even better for giving you self-control physically and emotionally, which you can see most directly in the ability to control your temper.
If you can wait, many things fall into your hand. Patience is like having a horse that will steadily pull a plow. Having patience is hard (as I think you can see by the look on the face of Ben Grimm (aka The Thing) in the image. With patience, all things become possible. If you need it right now, well, you might just be out of luck.
How to get this power: It may seem that the only way to develop patience is to be patient, but I have found that meditation works wonders, because of the act of being still. There is something about learning to hold still that makes you more patient. Being still physically makes your mind and emotions slow down.
3. The ability to work steadily without seeing immediate results
It’s one thing to work hard when you can see results, quite another to work without seeing evidence of progress.
Nearly everything that is worth doing will involve periods of time when it seems that not much progress is being made. The ability to weather these periods is a great power.
How to get this power: Meditation helps you develop a feel for energy. You learn to feel the energy to you receive from all around you, as well as the energy you give out. You learn that the energy that you send out is always returned in some way, and this gives you the ability to work even without visible or immediate results.
4. Faith in yourself
Another word for faith is self-confidence. If you believe in yourself, you have a source of power that is truly awesome. When you have faith in yourself, other people will believe in you.
Self-confidence comes through in everything you say and do, and in the way you hold yourself, like this drawing of Wonder Woman. She’s in a reflective moment, but you can see the confidence in her posture and the way she holds her shield.
Bonus power: the ability to believe in yourself when others that you care about don’t see the value in what you’re trying to do, or don’t think you can do it.
How to get this power: Meditation should bring you into your emotional center — your heart — giving you an experience of deep and intense emotion. Over time, you come to feel that your heart is larger and more powerful than even the most intense feelings. This gives you great faith in yourself.
Isn’t this picture incredible? When you have balance in your life, you don’t work all the time, or play all the time.
To liken a balanced life to physical balance makes sense, because when you balance physically, you must make corrections. When you go too far one way, you have to return to your center, or you fall.
How to get this power: The best way to cultivate balance is to make your breath balanced. Not every kind of meditation does this — in fact, most meditation methods don’t have you change your breath much, beyond just focusing on it.
Making your breath balanced and rhythmic is a powerful way of meditating. I teach a method called Heart Rhythm Meditation, which trains you to make your breath balanced.
6. Heal yourself or others
The modern world seems designed to cut you off from the rhythm of nature, which in the past guided your decisions about when to work, rest, and eat.
You’re also exposed to a host of toxic substances that previous generations never faced.
All this adds up to different kinds of illnesses — modern illness is chronic (like diabetes or cancer), not acute (like breaking a leg or getting bitten by a dog), as it was in the past. If you haven’t yet had the experience of watching someone you love struggle with a chronic illness, you will. Imagine if you could do something to help?
Bonus power: Prevent yourself from getting sick.
How to get this power: The ability to heal yourself or others is a sign of skill at perceiving, moving, and transforming energy, which are three fundamental skills in meditation. Learning to heal another person will take time, of course. But the amazing thing is that it can be done.
7. Know what you’re feeling
It may be a surprise that simply knowing what you are feeling could be considered a superpower, but it is.
Too often, you try to tell yourself what you should be feeling, hiding your feelings or denying them because the truth isn’t consistent with your limited understanding of yourself. This denial cuts off the great source of power within you: the power of your emotions.
The superhero pictured here is Jean Grey, aka The Phoenix. She’s a great example of this because her energetic powers get cranked up to a whole new level when she feels intense emotion; I can relate, because the same is true for me, and probably for you, too.
To truly feel your emotion deeply and fully requires diving into your heart, leaving behind labels and categories, and simply swimming in the ocean of feeling.
How to get this power: Meditation with your heart as the central focus gives you the perfect opportunity to explore your feelings. After a session of Heart Rhythm Meditation, I feel alive in a whole new way, both calm and energized.
8. Change the rhythm of a group or situation
Ever notice how a group or an environment has a certain rhythm? An example is a feeling the runs through a crowd during a great performance — you feel the group moving toward the expression of some feeling as the crescendo builds. Another example is a crowd suddenly becoming angry or even violent. When the attention of a group is focused on a speaker, you can feel a group losing patience with a poorly delivered speech, or catch the enthusiasm of an inspirational speaker.
Most of the time, you’re unconscious of how a group or an environment is affecting you, and also not conscious of how your energy plays a role in the situation. If you could become aware of your energy and tune it differently, you could have a real impact on the situation, even as an observer.
How to get this power: Your own personal atmosphere becomes more an more influential when you meditate on your heart, and you learn to use your deep, slow, rhythmic breath along with your ability to perceive, change, and transform energy to intervene in situations that before seemed outside your ability to change.
9. Wake up and go to sleep at will
Does it seem like I saved the most underwhelming power of all for the last?
There are so many accomplished, high-performing people in the world who can’t slow down and go to sleep.
Like balance, there is a rhythm of waking and sleeping, and if you have the ability to create this rhythm, you have a great power. We all have inertia, that makes us want to stay up when we’re up, and stay in bed when we need to get up. Having the ability to sleep when you choose to is very important, and the ability to wake up when you choose is very handy.
Bonus power: wake up at the time you say you will when you go to sleep, without using an alarm clock or any external aid.
How to get this power: meditation gives you control over your rhythm and over your breath. You see and understand that there is a breath for sleeping, and a breath for alertness, and you can choose the one that is appropriate.
Meditation is like the secret sauce of self-improvement — it makes everything better. Meditation can help you gain self-control, enhance your emotional intelligence, give you vibrant health, and help you know who you really are. Learn how to meditate today.
Note: This article was originally written in June 2012 for the IAM University of the Heart.