By Dhi Good //
When we take time regularly to contemplate the values we embrace and the goals we set, we create a cycle of continuous learning. This kind of learning needs no external authority. It’s how we access and act on our inner wisdom.
Reflection can be an excellent companion to a meditation practice. Meditation practice helps us learn to work with the mind. For example, when we decide to develop a meditation path, how will we know if it is working as intended? How will we know if it is worth the effort and investment of time? That’s where reflection can help make meaning from life and guide our future choices.
Cut off the Critic and Cultivate Curiosity
Too often we cut off reflection and pronounce harsh judgements on ourselves, saying: “I’m no good at this. My mind is a mess. I’m too lazy, busy, or frazzled.” With such a critical approach, it may be tempting to give up on our intentions because the setbacks or challenges are too painful to examine. We’d rather avoid pursuing the goal than to deal with looking at the results.
Instead of going straight to self-judgment, try taking on the role of curious friend. Ask open-ended questions, about what you are experiencing. How do I feel? What was I expecting or hoping for? How is this different?
Reflect Early and Often
Traditionally people set goals at the new year, but they often lead to disappointment. How many times have you set New Year’s Resolutions, only to forget all about them by February? That won’t happen if you set aside time to reflect on your goals each week. You may come to the conclusion that losing 20 pounds a week is not realistic or healthy. This is good information that can guide you to set more achievable goals in the future. Living, making mistakes, reflecting, learning – that’s how we make sense and meaning of life.
The unexamined life is not worth living, according to Socrates. If we wait too long to examine our actions and choices, we run the risk of losing track of what is important. Adopting a steady practice of reflecting on the important things in life can help you take stock of your life, stay the course, or perhaps choose a different path altogether.
Join Dhi Good for Leap into 2023: Create Your Intention—December 29, 2021–January 1, 2022
About the Author
Dhi Good is a senior teacher in Shambhala, who studied Zen intensively for 10 years. In addition to Shambhala path programs, she teaches mindfulness at work for non-meditators. She earned a masters in Future Studies from University of Houston, and is co-author of Trendbenders: Building Healthy and Vital Communities (2002). Dhi lives in Denver and works as Director of Business Development for Drala Mountain Center.
Featured image by Dhi Good