Since the beginning of time, individuals in one way or another have attested to the worth and respect of the human mind. Dating as far back as BC, people would stand against the ideas and routines set in place if they thought it seemed illogical or unfair. Eventually, these actions were developed into what is called “psychology,” and scientists began to research, conduct studies and provide learning experiments on behavior that led to the “Human Potential Movement.” Although it’s considered modern and a “New Age” movement, the basic premise of the Human Potential Movement has been around forever: it is possible to tap into your own mind to achieve the results that you desire.
The Human Potential Movement gained momentum during the 1960s when psychotherapists began to develop techniques aimed to train individuals and groups to discover their highest potential through means of sensitivity training, group therapy, self-expression and reliving personal experiences. Although doctors and scientists such as Fritz Perls, Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow tapped into the Human Movement Potential during the 1950s, it was the late 1960s and early 1970s that brought the greatest reception and the biggest popularity, when several psychologists and doctors began to hold clinical studies in order to identify how human resources and inner potential was developed.
Psychologists focused mainly on group centers where they could incorporate humanistic psychology with old Eastern philosophies. One of the most popular group centers was founded in 1962 by Michael Murphy and Richard Price. The Esalan Institute, in Big Sur, California, was used to implement the Osho Movement while teaching humanistic psychology techniques. The Osho movement is a practice discovered and created by Eastern philosopher Rajneesh Chandra Mojan, in which he combined humanistic psychology with Buddhist meditation and relaxation techniques.
With the creation of the group centers, the Human Potential Movement began to flourish, predominantly in the United States. Work groups and employees have especially benefited from the movement and group centers. In fact, a wide variety of human resources, management and training departments have made learning the Human Potential Movement a mandatory requirement. Other notable institutions are the World Institute of Scientological Enterprises, LandMark Education, Silva Mind Control and Lifespring.
The premise for the Human Potential Movement stems from early religious teachings and philosophical views, although it is not a religious practice. However, much like religious cultures, the Human Potential Movement teaches people to transform their lives into a more positive experience by delving into their hidden potential, which will in turn bring feelings of happiness, fulfillment and a sense being complete. Religious groups teach the same basic concept: when people turn their lives over to God, they will experience life in a different light through fulfillment and happiness. Both groups promote optimism and positive experience through practice and the following of their groups
However, a notable difference lies within the fact that the Human Potential Movement rejects the traditional values and beliefs that hinder human progress and limit creative thoughts. Training involves squashing fear, negative thoughts and traditional programmed information. Most Western religions teach us that God is personal, whereas The Human Movement Potential believes that God is an impersonal energy that lives within all of us. Also, biblical teachings do not promote leaving our conscious state of minds and entering into an altered state. However, the Human Movement Potential advocates inward imagery, visualization, meditation and relaxation for the purpose of tapping into our minds and transforming our thoughts.
The Human Movement Potential also has influences in what some call “the occult,” also known as spiritualism, divination, astrology or hidden perception of the senses. In Christian teachings, the term occult is met with negative reactions, and is taught to be something that goes against everything Christianity offers. However, this sort of practice is something that Human Movement Potential teachers and activists embrace. Tapping into your hidden potential by means of meditation, motivational techniques, visualizations and positive affirmations is the backbone of the movement.
The main goal of the Human Movement Potential is to teach you that you, and anyone else that so desires, can develop your own potential so that you can live the life that you want to live, and you can do this while being happy and fulfilled at the same time. The movement urges you to unleash your potential that’s been buried somewhere deep in your mind as a result of the conditions, teachings and rules of society. The so-called “rules” and norms of society have been embedded into our minds for so long that they come as a second nature, never questioned until they are stuck in our heads like bubble gum stuck to the bottom of our shoes. However, what was once learned can be unlearned, and the real you can be re-discovered. This of course, means that you will be rejecting traditional beliefs and moving towards a sense of self-enlightenment that only you can discover. The Human Movement Potential activist, followers and teachers believe that only your “true self” will allow you to go on to reach the heights in life that is there before you to grab.
Although there has been skepticism regarding the movement, many groups and individuals have had high success rates, and continue to not only practice the movement, but also promote and recommend it to others. Several books have been written, and group centers can be found all over the world. In a time in society where instant gratification seems to be the norm, all of the fast food overloads, get-rich-quick schemes, miracle diet pills and instant happiness medication are actually detrimental and unhealthy to our bodies, minds and souls.
This sort of personal “growth” is actually hindering our progress as human beings to naturally utilize our hidden psyche and creativity. Instead, we are being provided ways to work against our natural abilities through false advertisements and claims, which greatly stunts the natural progress that we all have the ability to reveal within ourselves. With each passing year, more and more of us long to understand why we feel stressed out, defeated, anxious, tired, worried and pessimistic. Although it may not be perfect by the standards of society, the Human Movement Potential strives to give us that peace that we all deserve, and the hope that we too, can lead meaningful and productive lives.