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Archive for Monday, January 7, 2013

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Mind Matters: The importance of reflection

January 7, 2013

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“Only when the clamor of the outside world is silenced will you be able to hear the deeper vibration. Listen carefully.” — Sarah Ban Breathnach

As we passed through the holidays, we frequently heard someone suggest the season was a good time for reflection.

It is not unusual for many of us to increase our time of reflection as the New Year arrives. However, it may be even more helpful to make reflection a daily priority in your life rather than a focused, annual event.

In our culture, it takes great awareness and deliberateness to take time for reflection. Because of our conditioning, being in continuous task mode seems normal.

We are always checking our lists, whether written on a note pad or swirling in our head. Frequently, when occupied by tasks, we become unconscious. While unconscious we are unable to stay on top of our experience. Our actions become robotic, frequently meaningless and often unhealthy.

Reflection may aid us in three key ways. First, honest reflection acts like the spell checker in word processing software, helping us identify potential errors in previous thoughts and actions, giving us the opportunity to self-correct before an unhealthy pattern develops.

Secondly, by taking time to consider the day ahead, we are able to connect intention to future action.

Thirdly, reflection provides the opportunity to get out of doing mode and into being mode. Taking time to just be enables us to reinvigorate our spirit. In spite of our higher intellect, or perhaps because of it, we are the only animals who seem to have lost the capacity, and therefore the benefits, of just being.

Our clients report that when they take time to reflect at bedtime, upon rising and at other times during the day, their capacity to influence their moment-to-moment experience improves.

Reflection can be done in a few minutes; it may involve journaling or can be part of a short or lengthy meditation.

Your reflection time can be organized or free-flowing. You may set different intentions for different reflection times.

Uncomfortable feelings like those that are underpinnings to depression or anxiety may create in us a sense of urgency to rid ourselves of the discomfort. However, the ability to view uncomfortable feelings as essential learning opportunities can turn discomfort into experiences of growth.

Uncomfortable feelings are signs of imbalances in our lives that may exist in emotional, physical, relational and/or spiritual dimensions. Reflection is a way of observing uncomfortable feelings and thoughts with an approach that blends curiosity with a nonjudgmental stance that can move you from a stuck place to a creative place.

We recommend using reflection whenever you feel uncomfortable as a way to observe and gain insight into your discomfort. It is useful to reflect on the four aspects of your humanity: the emotional, the physical, the relational and the spiritual.

Typically you will find imbalances in one or more areas that are leading to your discomfort, and you can gain awareness of a potential problem, such as recognizing that you have not paid attention lately to your relational or spiritual needs.

Practicing reflection daily enables you to pull weeds from your emotional garden when they are still small.

­— Jena and Ed Bloch can be reached at go@ljworld.com.

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