Do you take time in your life to stop and reflect? The ability to look back and access is potentially one of the most vital and useful skills worthy of seeking out in life today. Fostering the skillset of reflection is an invaluable tool in my life, and it could be in your life too.
What reflection should not be
So let's take a look at what a reflective practice in Mindfulness should look like, but first, we need to get rock solid clear on what it is not. The reason for this is because for reflection to be beneficial in your life, you need to firstly understand, that it is not attachment to circumstances and situations. It is, in reality, the exact opposite. The process of reflection allows you to consider what occurred in the past and let it go, to continue on your journey, progressing forward in life.
Through problems associated with social and cultural conditioning, reflection often looks more like judgement day. You know, when you look back at what you did and then proceed to head into a negative headspace and berate yourself. Unfortunately, we do this far too often in life. We don't just look back once either, we frequently look back, again and again, torturing ourselves with regret and disappointment.
Is this something you do? Are you overcritical of your past performance? You are not alone, because it is far more common than you might realise. We are way too hard on ourselves about things we have no power to change. The past is history, and the only worthwhile reason to look back is in a reflective way to gain insight so that we may learn from the experience.
The year of COVID
At this time of year, being the end of the year is a perfect time for a reflective practice. It has potentially been a tough year for many people in many ways. As individuals and as communities, we have certainly been stretched, to say the very least. For many of us, circumstances this year have pushed us to our limits and way beyond. So where to next?
The disruption of COVID had not just upset the apple cart but for some, may have felt as if it completely tipped over. Whilst for others their business experienced exponential growth. Disruption can be brutal if you are fixed in your ways or have become too comfortable with the status quo. COVID is most likely not going to be the last disruption that you will experience in your lifetime. There will be many more to come. However, by engaging in a solid reflective practice, it can help to support growth, allowing you to let go of the past once and for all. There are learnings to be had that will be invaluable as you progress through life.
What a balanced reflective practise looks like
Actively practising reflection can help to see both the things you did well and the things you could improve on. In a year like 2020, it would be easy to think that there was nothing I did well. However, if you consider a good reflective practise, you will be surprised at what you discover. If you are still standing in December after the year of COVID, you indeed have lots to be proud of, because we didn't see it coming and it was a ferocious storm indeed.
The power of zooming in reflective practice
It reflective practice it is essential to remove the critic from the equation, to enable you to take a balanced look at the past, to uncover the lessons it is trying to teach you.
This is made possible by observing your past through a different lens. When we are critical we tend to zoom in and focus on the detail, with laser-like precision. Sometimes by zooming out, we can see the big picture a whole lot better. This gives us perspective and allows us to become less critical of our past actions because we can see where they fit into the overall big picture.
Remember, hindsight is a wonderful thing. You did what you did at the time, with the best information you had on hand. Reflection now helps you to see the gaps and therefore, the lessons held within those gaps.
Remaining objective & seeking support from a friend
Set some time to sit quietly with pen and paper to begin your reflection. Make sure that you won't likely be interrupted, to give you a healthy open space to reflect. Make a list of the things you did well and the things you feel you need to learn from. Always try to remain objective. If it helps engage a friend who is a good listener, rather than a talker to help you through this valuable introspective process. Your friend could take notes for you so that you can focus and reflect with present state awareness.
Dealing with emotions attached to your reflective practice
When reflecting, allow for the feelings attached to rise, however, try to hold them gently, especially if they feel like strong emotions. I cannot understate how important it is to observe your feelings at this time, as they are valid and potentially what will bind you to your past if you don't make peace with them.
When you feel like judgement day is rising, feel into your physical body where you are feeling it and allow that part of your body to soften. Continue to do this through your list. For every emotion that rises, there is an equal physical, mental and energetic associated response. All roads lead to Rome, so sometimes if you begin by addressing the emotion indirectly, you can soften it, and eventually allow it to release from your body, mind, energy and emotions. Without a full release, it will rise again to fight another day!
Key to success
The absolute key to success in reflection is practising self-love. So cut yourself some slack and respond with kindness as you would towards a dear friend, particularly, when you are reflecting on the things that didn't go so well. The act of kindness towards yourself will help you to discover the valuable lessons to take forward in life.
For every potentially uncomfortable situation that confronts us, there is a seed of a solution buried within. Reflection is the practice to uncover those beautiful seeds, and sometimes you have to dig deep to find them in the soil!
If you would like to know more about how a reflective practice could support growth in your life, reach out to book a FREE mindfulness discovery session today.