Self-reflection is one of the hardest and bravest things anyone can do. It’s in our nature to focus outwardly and we just so happen to escape from what’s happening within. Not judging but, monitoring what we do, what we say, how we react instead of monitoring others can be unsettling at first but once you get past this, you have the key to not just learn about yourself, but to gift yourself with an even better version of you. To do that, I’ll try to give you some tangible exercises/things you can do below.
1. The breath is a key element here and using it wisely and taking control of it can truly change your life. To learn more about the breath, read this article. The main thing you should know is that most of us aren’t breathing as well as we should. Our breaths have become shallow and we allow them to dictate our state of being. Our goal here is to regain control. Here are two simple exercises that you can do to do so:
For 10 minutes, try to take deep breaths through your nostrils and time your breath count every minute trying to make it less and less. So, if you start with 15 breaths in the first minute, try to bring it down to 10 in the next, down to 7 in the next and so on.
Try Nadi Shodhana Pranayama, or alternate nostril breathing. Place your right index and middle fingers on your forehead, your thumb on the right nostril and your ring finger on the left nostril. Block your left nostril, breathe in through the right nostril then block it and exhale through the left. Inhale through the left, block it and exhale through the right. Inhale right, block, exhale left. Inhale left, block, exhale right. And so on.
2. Proper self-care or me-time is very pivotal. A lot of the times what we think we’re doing to relax, is not at all relaxing. As good and as nice as unwinding with a movie, reading a book, or listening to music are, they’re all still stimulating things and you’re not actually giving your mind and body the care they need. The best thing to do here is to practice. Find a studio next to you, practice at home, even go cycling, swimming, anything that benefits your body as well as your mind leaving you truly relaxed, at ease and at peace.
3. Because our awareness is always outwardly, we feel the need to give input most of the time. In many conversations, we listen so we can respond without really taking the time to filter what we’re saying or truly understand why we’re saying it and if it’s of the right value. Silence here is a great teacher. I’ve written before about staying in silence, you can read it here, but for most people staying in silence for a full day can be tough. I still encourage you to try it if you can but if you can’t, try just staying silent in some conversations. Observe and listen without the need to give any input. Thoughts will come to you that you’ll want to share. Try not to share them, try instead to observe them, think about their purpose. It might feel frustrating at first but in a short while, you’ll feel the burden of input lift and you might learn a thing or two about your thought process.
4. Refrain from judgement and go past the fear of self-reflection. Being judgmental is used to describe someone who judges other people in a negative way. But take that negative connotation out, we’re all in fact judgmental. Because we’re wired to look outside, we judge things based on our own experience and we end up seeing things as we are and not as they actually are. Try instead to observe and learn rather than observe and judge or label, whether positively or negatively. Even when you’re starting to shift your awareness inwardly, don’t judge the thoughts you have or the things you find out about yourself. Go past that discomfort of inner awareness and just listen, understand, and explore yourself. Do that first so you can go through an internal cleanse of how you think and how you react. You’ll learn to peel everything within that doesn’t represent you or serve you.
5. The last thing you can do is to practice all of the above consistently. This is actually the most important step. Repeat the above process on a daily basis if you can. Go back to your breath on a daily basis, learn to not relax by escaping but by serving your body and your mind. Withhold your input to fully grasp and understand the situation as well as to understand your own thought process. Learn, explore, stay inquisitive about yourself and your surroundings; adopt a childlike approach of taking baby steps to re-learn things about yourself. Lastly, don’t fear getting to know you. If there’s anyone who can learn you best, love you best and experience you best, it’s your very own self.