The term meditation is commonly used to refer to the exercise of focusing our attention. When we talk about meditating, we are often talking about mindfulness meditation. With mindfulness meditation, you anchor your attention to something specific — such as your breath — and let go of everything else. You let your thoughts move past you, and practice quieting your mind so that you can pay attention to right now.
Mindfulness meditation is only one type of meditation though. Today we discuss another meditation technique, called reflective meditation. Reflective meditation is not about letting go of your thoughts, but rather intentionally turning them to a specific topic. It could be anything from a broad concept (such as meaning of life) to a very specific thing that happened (such as an argument that you had).
If your goal is to increase your self-awareness, it will likely be most helpful for you to reflect on an experience that you’ve had. Begin by describing to yourself what happened in that experience. Next, describe your emotions, feelings, needs, and thoughts during the experience. Try to keep it very fact-based. Remember that you are approaching the experience with no judgment.
You might find yourself recreating the scene and feel the physical presence of your emotions (racing heart, elevated blood pressure). We’ve probably all had the experience of rehashing a disagreement over and over in our heads before. That’s ok, but don’t let yourself get carried away. Your goal is not to be hard on yourself or others, but just to consider what happened, learn from it, and move on. The more you practice, the easier it will become for you to turn your analytical mind on your experiences without your emotional mind trying to take over.
- Increases your self-awareness. As you develop a regular practice of reflecting, you’ll become more aware of the patterns that define you
- Helps you clarify your feelings and release anxiety, especially around stressful thoughts that nag at you.
- Strengthens your ability to solve problems and communicate. As you get in the practice of looking for your needs and those of others, you’ll strengthen your ability to look for creative win-win solutions and explain your needs to others
- Develops mindfulness. The more you practice reflection, the more you will be aware of your patterns as they happen. You’ll be able to experience your emotions without being swept away by them.
Stay tuned. In our next post we’ll talk about what you should reflect on and some fundamental rules to keep in mind.