How Self Reflection Will Set Your Course for the New Year
by Susi Amendola
Photo Credit: flavio-vetus-chettefrega, via Flickr Creative Commons
The practice of self-reflection is a great way to start the new year. As we begin to set our resolutions and intentions, it’s helpful to take a look at what has transpired over the previous year. Gaining perspective by looking at what has worked and what hasn’t can mark a starting point that gives context to the present moment and provides meaningful direction for our future path. When we can see clearly the impact we are having on our lives, we have the choice to either keep doing what we are doing or change our course.
Meditation gives power and meaning to intention setting and resolution making practices
When trying to review where we have been and where we are going, we need to call upon our wise mind – this is the part of our mind that is clear, observant and detached. It is this part of the mind we strengthen when we meditate. In the yoga tradition, it is called the Buddhi, which in Sanskrit means the awakened or conscious mind, and is able to discern the truth.
The word Buddhi is the root of the word Buddha, which means awakened or wise one. The Buddha was said to have an enlightened and wise mind and heart. This kind of enlightened or bright mind comes from meditation training and practice. When we sit in meditation we sharpen our discernment and start to observe without judgement. This leads to an exploration of the self that is unbiased and offers us the kind of information that can lead to lasting transformation.
Making More Conscious Decisions
When we have a way to self-reflect, we can begin to make decisions that are more conscious.
Meditation supports this kind of self-reflection and gives power and meaning to intention setting and resolution making practices. There is even research to show that mindfulness and meditation influence our ethical decision-making abilities providing us with a stronger sense of what is right for ourselves and others.
If your resolution is to be healthier this year, you may want to review your health habits over the last year and decide which ones are serving you and leading to the goal of health and well-being. If there are things you experience that are contrary to those goals, you can entertain new choices without beating yourself up. By making a conscious decision to come into alignment with those behaviors that serve you, you are more likely to stay adherent to your resolutions.
Sharpen Your Discernment
Yoga suggests a daily meditation practice to sharpen the skill of discernment.To practice, choose an object to focus on for meditation. It might be your breath, a prayer, or a mantra.
- Sit quietly with the sit bones firmly anchored in your chair and your spine gently lifted.
- Start by closing your eyes and bringing awareness to your breath. Notice as the breath enters and leaves through the nostrils.
- Imagine the breath moving up and down the spine. Let your body relax as you breathe.
- Now let your attention rest on your own object for meditation.
- When thoughts or feelings arise, just notice. Allow them to come and go without labeling judging or getting lost in the story. Gently return your attention to your object/focus for meditation.
It’s here that we practice mindfulness and non-attachment. We hold a space of awareness without all the dialogue and drama. We stay awake to what is arising and let it bubble up into our conscious awareness and we just witness and then gently return the attention to our point of focus. This sharpens the mind and allows the stories that hold us to unwind and lose their hold over us so we can begin to see clearly.
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When this practice is done daily it provides you with the insight and information you need to make the choices that will help you to support and adhere to your resolutions.