The virtues of self-reflection
by Kate Pippos on Sunday 10 December 2023
4 min read
Beginning today, however large or small – consider a practice of self-reflection as a task that will inevitably lead you closer to yourself. One of the most common things people come to me with, is a huge expectation of how long they should be spending on maintaining their meditation practice, mental health, or some other variation of grandiose lifestyle habit that they assume will only yield benefit if they do a lot of it. Well, let this be a gentle reminder: you’re not getting drunk, you’re getting to know yourself. Smaller doses more frequently (think bite size snacks) will quickly and organically yield the rewarding virtues of self-reflection.
“Know thyself” is an age-old adage that supposedly served the ancient Greeks in creating direction and purpose for their lives both internally and externally. But let’s take this journey back further than 400 BC, to when the scriptures of yoga were being crafted with svadyaya, or the concept of “self study” as just one of several suggestions that have become known as the do’s and don’ts of adopting a yogic lifestyle. Svadyaya is sometimes translated as “one’s own reading”. It ensures that we’re able to develop and receive the virtues of knowing oneself that can be developed through self-reflection.
Practice: Sound Bath.
Integrity is an often-underestimated side effect of looking inwards and is built through steady application of discovering who it is that we are vs who we believe ourselves to be. It’s here we can be honest with ourselves about what’s working and what’s not - enabling both growth and change. Knowing and understanding oneself is the foundation for better relationships with the world around us, which in turn, enables us to make better choices, live more authentically and live from a set of values. In turn, we can more readily value ourselves and those around us.
Practice: Establish your core values and notice when you act out of alignment with these (this will get easier with time, be gentle).
The gift of clear seeing has been linked to a greater sense of happiness and wellbeing. Most recently this has been linked to practices of mindfulness and meditation which embed in the practitioner the ability to stay present. This trigger-less life sparks appeal from deep within and in itself is perhaps the greatest of all the virtues of self-reflection. Fresher than an ice bath, and with very little effort, clarity shows up as better life choices. It’s when you know that your inward gaze is impacting you and allows the world around you to meet you where you are, not the other way around.
Practice: Journaling before bed.
Once we’re clear; we make space. Revelatory practices like self-reflection quite figuratively allow us to create space in the mind by clearing out what’s making more “noise”. Thoughts about the way things should be are replaced by acceptance of what is. In turn, the creation of infinite opportunity for the future. Growth is considered one of six basic needs that every single person on the planet lives to fulfil. By giving ourselves the space to reflect either body or mind, we in turn create space like a wide and open cloudless sky.
Amongst all of these virtues, discovery audaciously serves as a centrepiece. It is discovery that allows us to radiate confidence that evolves from the purest form of validation: self-validation. The need to be propped up by other things, people, titles, or expectations drops away. We turn our gaze towards what is known, true, clear and spacious to experience ourselves as we’ve never before and to give ourselves the best chance to move our lives forward in a meaningful and pleasurable way. It’s not always easy but like so many things in life, the journey of self-reflection is incredibly rewarding.
Practice: Smile at yourself. Every single day. Notice your uniqueness. Smile back.
Embarking on the journey of self-reflection is not about the quantity of time invested but rather the quality of the moments spent getting to know oneself. Join us while you delve into practices such as Sound Bath and Yoga, and let the journey of self-reflection be a rewarding and transformative exploration, one smile at a time.
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