The Importance of Self-Reflection
Take some quiet time to think about your life and life in general.
How many times have you heard or read an inspirational quote that really touched your heart, but all too soon – sometimes within minutes, it was forgotten?
It left a pleasant feeling and you did remember that it was a good one but you can’t seem to remember what it was about.
Why did you forget it, even though it touched you deeply?
How can you imprint life’s lessons into your psyche where they can transform you?
The answer is daily reflection.
Daily reflection is a practice recommended by spiritual masters for all conscious evolvers on the journey of life.
The busy, full mind
My Guru, Swami Chinmayananda told a story to demonstrate how preoccupations with our everyday life and concerns make it difficult for us to find time for inner growth.
He narrated how in the homes of the poor in India, people cook over wood or coal fires. It is common for people to ‘borrow’ some burning embers to start a quick fire, instead of starting a new one from scratch.
One day, a woman went to her neighbor to borrow some fire starters. Not having a suitable container, she took with her an old copy of the Indian Express, the national newspaper to carry home the burning embers.
She stood outside the neighbor’s door as he dropped a few burning pieces into her flimsy, make-shift ‘container’.
Almost immediately, the scorching pieces of coal started burning through her newspaper and falling on the ground. By the time she got home, the burning pieces had fallen away and all she was left with was a burnt-up, mess of paper in her hands.
My Guru explained that our minds are like a copy of the newspaper – chock-full of worldly concerns and anxieties. We get a ‘burning’ idea or inspiration that touches us deeply, but because the mind is so occupied, the inspiration evaporates very quickly.
And so, life goes on the same way as before. The inspiring quote or burning idea doesn’t change us or our outlook in any way.
The remedy is reflection.
What is reflection?
Reflection is to take some quiet time out of your day for thinking about your life and life in general.
This is the time when you review your life, goals, relationships, and interactions. It is an activity that Stephen Covey, in his book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People describes as ‘important but not urgent’. It is an activity that has great potential to positively affect your life but because it is not urgent, you don’t usually give it priority.
How to reflect?
Here’s how you can practice reflection. Take a few minutes out of your day to read something uplifting, inspirational, or requiring deep thought.
“A good friend is like your favorite cotton shirt—It’s comfortable to wear, hides your faults from others, and protects you from the elements”.
You could easily read this quote and simply say, ”How true” and move on.
But if you took a little time to think about each of the characteristics of a good friend, it could potentially make you into that person who people love to be with.
For instance, you may remember a time when you insisted on having your way with a friend and made her uncomfortable. Maybe you may recall criticizing her behind her back. Or maybe, you may regret not standing up for your friend when someone else was critical of her.
Reflection is becoming self-aware and conscious of our own faults and limitations and using the new awareness as the motivation for our own transformation.
Reflection is becoming aware of our own faults and limitations and then applying that learning to our own life.
Regularity and repetition is the key.
Spending regular quiet time for reflection is the means for positive transformation.
It is an indispensable habit of a true spiritual seeker.