Just as you need to rest and recharge everyday, there is a very important practice to incorporate into your daily routine to stay tuned up for life.
Without this practice, you can go years following the same patterns of behaviour that keep you feeling stressed and stuck in life. Then you may complain, “This is the story of my life. Things will never change.”
What I am talking about is the spiritual practice of daily introspection. It is the key to gaining peace of mind and spiritual transformation.
What is Introspection?
Introspection is taking stock of your life and your responses to it.
It is putting some time aside everyday to sit and review your day, how you spent your time and how you responded to the circumstances and people whom you met.
You can think of it as a daily balance sheet that gives you a picture of your actions and responses in the day. It helps to highlight areas where changes are needed so as to begin making modifications to your outlook and behavior. This awareness is important because…
If you don’t see the problem, how can you fix it? The first crucial step to deal with life is to first really ‘see’ the situation as it is. We can’t change anything we don’t see.
The process of introspection
1. Introspection: In the first step, you set aside time to sit and review your day’s activities. It requires some quiet alone-time when you won’t be disturbed or distracted.
- Take some deep breaths to calm yourself and to prepare your mind. Be relaxed.
- Then slowly, allow the events of the day to float up into your consciousness.
- As you become aware of them, watch them with as much detachment as you can.
- Don’t get sucked into the drama that you are re-living by actively engaging in re-playing the events. Just watch them.
2. Detection: As you re-play the events of the day and your reactions and responses to the people and circumstances, there will come an awareness of areas in which you were lacking.
For instance, you may realize you didn’t help your colleague out of jealousy and insecurity in your own position. Or, you spoke sweetly to someone and then turned around and criticized her behind her back. Maybe you watched TV until late and totally forgot to call your best friend who was recently diagnosed with a serious illness.
This is a personal, spiritual process. The only reason why you are doing it is to increase your awareness of how you are thinking and living so you can begin to make positive changes within yourself.
This step is not to re-play how others have been unkind, unfair, or disrespectful and justify your behaviour. You can’t change them, you can only change how you respond to them.
Once awareness and detection of your responses and behaviour comes, there arises a sense of dissatisfaction, disappointment, guilt or perhaps even shame.
It’s very important to not get stuck at this stage and let these feelings debilitate your forward movement. Take them as pointers that show you where you can change.
3. Negation: In this step, you negate old behaviours while being very careful to not allow self-condemnation or self-blame to seep in.
Instead of saying, “I am such a rude and inconsiderate person!”, it’s better to calmly say, “I should not have spoken in a rude and inconsiderate manner.”
Use your new awareness and feelings as the impetus to negate the not-so-exemplary behaviour.
Then, take the last step in your practice….
4. Substitution: This final step is critical and completes the transformative process.
Never move away from your practice without first resolving and planning how you will go about dealing with what you have become aware of.
Stay positive and be grateful that you have noticed the behaviours that were damaging your relationships and keeping you stuck in negative patterns of behaviour.
Resolve to make changes and goals and make sure you back them up with a solid plan of action or to-do list.
Unless you do this, your introspection practice will erode your confidence and will become nothing but a practice in self-flagellation.
Resolve to be better
Perhaps you may resolve to be more aware of your speech, always be true to others and never speak behind their back. You could resolve to be more aware of other’s needs and pains.
Take action steps
For example, you could write an affirmation about your new resolve where you will see it often. Or, in the case of forgetting to call your sick friend, you could set aside a time to call her regularly.
Do this 4-step process daily
Doing this 4-step process daily will help keep you on track with your efforts and reinforce positive behaviours.
Gradually, the internal changes that you make will build up your self esteem and integrity. This will bring you a greater sense of purpose, peace of mind and transform you completely.
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*If you enjoyed this article, please read my blogpost, “What is spiritual growth and how to achieve it”.