Key Takeaway: Reflection is crucial for the purposeful liver – or for anyone, for that matter. It allows us to think deeply, to truly think beneath the surface and beyond ourselves, and to keep ourselves in check vis-à-vis our purposes – an extremely important thing to do especially in today’s hyper-paced world. And for Christians, it allows us to talk and commune with our God.
As a Catholic by birth, education, and now choice, I’ve been exposed to the various nuances of the Church’s faith. All my life, my education has been Jesuit, and to the well-trained Jesuitized mind (Jesuit clergy or not), it would not be difficult to see how this blog is very much influenced by the Jesuit philosophies. And I’m proud of it.
Starting high school, after lunch, we would have a ten-minute guided session called the Examen (derived from the Spanish examen), which was actually an innovation of St. Ignatius of Loyola’s, the founder of the Jesuits (Society of Jesus, formally). The Examen, in essence, allowed us to look back on the day so far and prepare ourselves for the rest of it – given that it was a midday exercise, we’d have a quite a lot to think of on both ends of this spectrum. It started by relaxing and opening oneself to the omnipresence of God, then by thinking on and of the events of the day done, then by seeing where one both felt closer or drawn to God, and far from him. Then it ended with a conversation with him, and a prayer to be more open to him.
Even if you weren’t Jesuit-educated (or even if you’re not Christian, or religious for that matter!), reflection is still a very handy essential tool to keep with you at all times. It gives you the opportunity to truly think over things, to evaluate every part of it, to ensure that nothing gets left behind or taken for granted. It allows you to draw on insights from experiences both positive and negative, and to use those insights for further improvement and growth. And, for us Christians, it lets us talk to God, to let him know of all our feelings – though God knows them already, it’s different if we let ourselves tell him – and for him to respond to us, for us to listen.
Religion itself, and all the arts, are tangible, eternal results of reflection. Reflection allowed humanity to think of their existence (and beyond it), to remember that of their ancestors, and to weave the fabric of history in a way unlike any other that mere records of wars and of kings could not, cannot, and can never do so. Reflection allowed us to become larger than ourselves and tie us with invisible yet powerful strings to the rest of society and to the world. Reflection enabled us to recognize, understand, and eventually commune with God.
For our hyper-paced world today, reflection allows us to take a short – but much-needed! – break, to relax, to de-robotize and to really think. Sometimes, we are so caught up in the things we do that we may forget why we’re doing them in the first place, and may get led astray by apostate goals or motivations relative to our true purposes. For purposeful livers, this is especially important, because as practitioners of consciousness and service for a reason, we always, always need to keep ourselves in check as far as our higher purposes are concerned.
As we close another workweek and prepare to enter the weekend, I invite you to start reflecting or meditating regularly. Devote half an hour to an hour at night each week, and free yourself from all unnecessary distractions, including your phone and physical nourishment. Withdraw and be alone. Open yourself to spiritual food and drink only. You may want to use relaxing music or aromatherapy – for the former, I really recommend Kevin Kern’s 2003 album The Winding Path, which not only provides a guided visualization, but is also constructed in a way to provide the corresponding musical journey through nature.
Meditate on good things only, that your mind, body, and soul be relaxed and refreshed. For us Christians, we should meditate on the ultimate good – on God himself, on his Word; you may want to meditate on the Bible or specific verses thereof.
Have an insightful and purposeful weekend!