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“It’s no use going back to yesterday because I was a different person then”

The art of reflection. A sentiment that encourages us to understand our life backwards whilst living it forwards. A process of meaning-making, shining light on what is already known and illuminating shadows to discover the unknown, in the hope of bringing greater awareness in better understanding ourselves and the world around us.

Alice, of Alice In Wonderland, reminds us to be ‘curious and curiouser’. Reflection is not only about looking at the content, but it is an invitation to explore the process. Delve deeper into the hidden meanings through a lens of curiosity, widening perspective and asking yourself the more detailed and specific questions of ‘how?’ and ‘why?’.

A reflection sometimes exposes more reality than the object it echoes’ said the Cheshire cat. Be prepared for what reflexivity may invite to the surface. We can be very skilled agents of avoidance, suppressing the unwanted and turning a blind eye to cast those skeletons to the back of the closet, under lock and key. Yet unwanted and suppressed experiences only express in undesirable ways until we give them the air time they deserve; the good, the bad and the ugly. Be brave. And in that bravery, honour honesty. For it is only when we are truly honest with ourselves in reflection that we can gain clarity and deeper insight into what went before, and thus how we move forward.

Simple steps for the art of self-reflection

HOW TO BEGIN:

Firstly, create time and space to honour the process. This means without distraction (phone off!), adequate time (not rushing off or squeezing into a hectic schedule!) and solo (or alongside an equally reflective pal up for the task self-reflection).

Secondly, invest in the materials… Notebook, drawing pad, pen, colouring pencils.

Consider how you best reflect…. Is it through bullet points and list making, doodling and drawing, or sticking and pasting.

Meditate before beginning. Or at least allow a pause to settle the mind and soothe the body before delving in.

QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:

  • What 3 words defined last year? 
  • Draw a graph of the year and identify key themes to map e.g. mood, achievement, connection
  • If there was a ‘headline’ to the year what would it be?
  • Look at the contexts that make up your life (personal life, home, work, social, etc.) – draw a pie chart of the current contexts, consider the balance and create an ideal pie chart
  • Name the significant people or important influences in the year and acknowledge why they are meaningful and how they supported you.
  • Celebrate the achievements – what were your proudest moments?
  • Acknowledge the challenges – what were the sticky patches and how did you grow from them?
  • Identify familiar thought patterns – is there an unwanted inner critic, and how might that be positively reframed to be quieter going forward?
  • Critically examine behaviours – what would you like to do more and less of next year?
  • In what way have you been living aligned or misaligned with your inner core values?
  • What was the greatest lesson of the year?
  • What have you learnt about yourself that you did not know before, and how have you grown?

In her own insight, Alice reflects, ‘It’s no use going back to yesterday because I was a different person then’. This therefore begs Alice’s question, ‘Who in the world am I?’… And if indeed that is the ‘great puzzle’, then perhaps we begin by looking at all of our mulit-faceted jigsaw puzzle pieces to build the bigger picture. Give yourself permission to explore the puzzle of you. Learn and grow from reflecting on your experiences. For through the art of reflection is where insight is born, self awareness grows and the wise mind inhabits. 

Where attention goes, energy flows… if the very art of reflection give rise to awareness, it is the process of intention setting which then transforms. Read Liz Joy Oakley’s article tomorrow on setting intentions for 2020.

About Stephanie Minchin

Steph first fell in love with yoga when she moved to London in 2010, and then deepened her practice and spiritual connection in an ashram in Kerala, India. After completing YTT (200 hrs) in 2014, yoga became an integral part of Steph’s life, finding grounding and growth in personal practice with life lessons beyond the yoga mat.

 

Through her training in Yoga Therapy, Steph now unites her professions and passions of yoga teaching and clinical psychology into her yoga classes. This opens an invitation for yoga to be more than making shapes on a mat, yet a deeper journey of understanding how we can improve our physical health and positively relate to both our mental and emotional wellbeing.

Steph integrates yogic philosophy into her teaching to encourage reflective self-study and self-inquiry through yoga practice, exploring the psychological and energetic landscapes of the self through yoga practice.

In her own experience of yoga, Steph has learnt how to be more present, with self-awareness, self-compassion and bodily acceptance. Steph advocates for the healing powers of yoga and believes that yoga is for everybody and every body, with a little piece of magic in yoga for all, inclusive of shape, size, ability or any other aspect of our individual uniqueness.

Steph teaches Flow, Vinyasa, Mandala, Yin, Restorative, and Meditation and co-leads the MoreMind project with Liz Joy Oakley.