Many of us have very busy lives, from the moment we wake up in the morning. We shower, make the bed, work, run errands, get exercise,  buy groceries, prepare meals, and much more.

Alternating with all of this activity is passive engagement, when we are on the receiving end of the equation.  We may watch videos, listen to music, spend time on FB, and read the news.  Passive engagement allows us to receive stimulation from the world, without exerting our own effort, which can help us to unwind and relax.

But there’s a third kind of engagement that is extremely important, beyond being active and being passive.

And that is being reflective.

We spend very little time reflecting on our lives and ourselves.  Because we spend so little time, we generally don’t really know how to reflect.  We often consider reflection, “just thinking about things.”

But meaningful reflection on our lives is what cultivates an authentic sense of gratitude.  It also cultivates healthy, loving relationships with others.  And self-awareness, which includes an awareness of the impact we are having on the world around us.  And spiritually, self-reflection makes us conscious of interdependence – the very foundation of life itself.

So one of our challenges is making time in our lives for quiet self-reflection.

This may involve just a few minutes each day in the evening to reflect back on the day. Or it may involve an hour or so to reflect on a person with whom you have an important relationship.  Or it may involve sitting quietly and reflecting on a loved one who is no longer alive on their birthday or anniversary of their death.

Naikan is a particularly powerful form of self-reflection, providing a simple structure to guide your reflections.  Self-reflection is a mental wellness skill that can help you to appreciate the richness of your life and to keep your balance during challenging times.

I will be conducting an online program, A Natural Approach to Mental Wellness, beginning on April 19th, 2024.  Self-reflection is one of the elements that we will study and practice together.  I hope you will join us for this annual program, based on my book, A Natural Approach to Mental Wellness:  Lessons from Japanese Psychology.

Best wishes.



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