Key Takeaway: Reflection, especially when paired with meditation, is crucial in living a purposeful life. It raises our sense of self-awareness and lets us realize, upon revisiting our past experiences, how we can become better people.
It’s the end of another week.
And, I’d like to remind us all – myself included – we’re already more than halfway through 2016. I guess it’s also time to stop for a moment and look back (as well as look here, and look forward).
Last week Wednesday, Lali wrote about the value of pausing for a moment and getting in touch with your inner self, especially when you feel “like dropping your work”. Actually, we should pause for a moment and get in touch with our inner selves all the time, not just whenever we feel like giving up. Not that we should spend every hour cloistered alone in a dark room – but the act, the ritual, of quieting down regularly, for peace of mind (literally and figuratively).
Meditation is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “to focus one’s mind for a period of time, in silence or with the aid of chanting, for religious or spiritual purposes or as a method of relaxation.” Christian meditation adds a nice, personal touch to this through the value of reflection – especially self-reflection and how your relationship with your God has been.
Taking time off to think over the immediate past, to really think over it in a quiet place that relaxes both body and soul, and if you feel like you’ve accepted or rejected your calling, is, therefore, both Christian and purposeful. Nothing speaks of purposeful living and self-awareness in particular more than reflective meditation.
Why? As you go over the events of your day, or your week, or so on, you revisit them – and maybe see them in different ways compared to when you first experienced it. Adding a conducive ambience for meditation makes this much more likely, because when you free your mind from other things, you can focus on the thing being meditated – or reflected – on much more. And this is very importance in purposeful living, because it provides a “check and balance”, so to speak, if you’re sticking to living a truly good life.
That’s why regular reflection is so important. The rhythmic system of settling down, even for just half an hour a week, for instance, to “process” the week that has been, and to prepare for the week that’s to be, helps us get the winding down that our bodies need after a very hectic or busy time. It acts as a “decluttering” or “filtering” of things in your head, things that you can sort out, archive, or delete. Things that you can close, and let go of – a regular emptying of the recycle bin in your head to free up more memory.
This is one reason the Jesuit way of life by St. Ignatius of Loyola – whose feast day is on Sunday – is so appealing even to non-Catholics (and non-Christians for that matter). They place an emphasis on reflective meditation that helps people review their experiences and actions, and how their attitudes or responses to it affected them and their spiritual lives. Through it all, they learn how to act or respond better, and pray how to be more loving, emerging as better persons in the process.
Admittedly, I don’t always get to reflect because by the time I settle down, I’m so tired I fall asleep instead. But whenever I do so, it’s so wonderful a feeling because I get epiphany-like realizations that I could have been kinder or more loving, or I see things with new perspectives so that I don’t feel bad about them anymore, and I actually feel good.
The challenge for us, therefore, is to ensure we make time for ourselves – alone, me-time not to screw up, but to breathe and reflect, and allow ourselves to grow and become better.
Have a purposeful weekend! And check out my post on how to do a weekly meditation in the shower.