Reflection: An Exercise in Mindfulness

As I sit with my back to the fireplace to feel the warmth I glance up and catch its reflection in the mirror.  By looking up I get the best of both worlds; the heat on my back and the beauty of the fire.  Sure, I could turn around but…

I just re-wrote that sentence 5 times then decided not to end it.   Why?  Because it does not have the perfect ending.  There are so many reasons not to turn around; for me it is enough to reflect.  You finish it.

A Year in Review

This post is not about my ability to turn around and look at a fire, nor is it about my inability to complete a sentence.  This is about reflecting in order to move forward.  As we move into 2019 I take a moment to look back over the past year.  For many the New Year means new intentions, new directions, new resolutions but how can we move forward if we don’t look back.  Are we not doomed to repeat our mistakes if we do not take the time to understand why they happened in the first place?

So today and likely for the week my daily meditation will be on 2018.  I will reflect on the up’s and down’s of the year before I set my intentions for this one to come. There is no rush.  January is a time of hibernation, a moment given to us by nature to build strength and fortify ourselves in order to face what comes next.

The Problem with Reflection

There is a problem however.  What is my frame of mind?  How am I looking?  With what mindset do I view the past year?  The mood I’m in right now determines how I see.  So how to look back without placing my own stories on the situation?  You’re probably thinking but “they are your stories”!  Hmm..

The problem with reviewing your own mistakes and triumphs is that they are yours.  You have experienced feelings and feelings cloud judgement.  There I just did it!  I used the word I have been avoiding.  Judgement has no place in reflection.  The reflection of my fireplace is just that.  Warmth on my back (feeling but no view), beautiful bouncing light in front but no feeling.  I look up and know that the reflected fire is the source of my warm back but if I had never experienced fire nor had seen a mirror I would not make the assumption that warmth from behind came from a fire.  Instead I would wonder why the fire in front of me did not warm my face.

I have presented many problems with reviewing my past, so how to solve them?  Before reflecting on what was so that I can create what will be I take a breath of indifference, I reflect, then I take a breath of happiness, I reflect on the same topic.  In this way I can understand the entirety of the given situation.  Have I lost you?  If you are new to meditation or mindfulness then this may sound confusing!  This is not an easy concept.  I must admit that I fail often.  Indifference in the face of something big is a hard thing to accomplish.  When I have had to reflect on things that caused me pain this exercise has taken many tries; with sessions ending in tears.  Of course the opposite exists as well.  Sitting with indifference in the face of big accomplishment is also hard but those sessions end in smiles and laughter!

The following is an exercise in reflection to help you get started.

Mirror Gazing

Find a handheld mirror and go to a comfy spot where you will have peace to sit in silence.  Find your seat, sit up tall hips pressing down, crown of the head pulling up, chin level to the floor.  Engage your abdominals and begin by listening to your breath.  As it begins to slow down naturally take control.  Breathe with purpose in through the nose allowing the belly to expand and out through the nose pulling the navel in.  Breath by breath slow it down until you feel relaxed and at ease.

Now think of stubbing your toe, embrace the pain, and pick up the mirror.  Look at yourself.  What do you see?  What is the first thing that comes to mind?

Place the mirror down, close your eyes and come back to the breath.  Once more allow it to settle naturally.  Then take control, breathing with purpose through the abdomen to find that place where you are once more at ease.

Now think of a compliment recently paid to you.  Pick up the mirror and look at yourself.  What do you see?  What is the first thing that comes to mind?

Place the mirror down, close your eyes and come back to the breath.  Allow it to settle naturally then take control, breathing with purpose through the abdomen to find that place where you are once more at ease.

Now imagine pouring a glass of water.  Pick up the mirror and look at yourself.  What do you see?  What is the first thing that comes to mind?

Place the mirror down, close your eyes and come back to the breath, allowing it to settle naturally.  Take 5 to 10 breaths in this place then slowly open your eyes.

Thoughts

We began with the bad, moved on to the good then looked with indifference.  Did your reflection change?  When we look at things after experiencing something bad we see the cracks and pits; the things that we feel bad about.  When happy we see the beauty, with indifference we see the truth.

Think of it like getting dressed in the morning (some of you may relate better than others) when you feel good you can open the closet door, put on anything and feel confident.  When you feel bad, tired, upset in any way you may try on a hundred outfits and think they all look awful.  In reality you haven’t changed, your body is the same it’s just the mindset.

So how to look with indifference?  Use any tool to bring the mind to a place where the outcome doesn’t matter.  Where your interaction has no consequence; like pouring a glass of water.  Hold onto this feeling.  This is where truth exists.

Sit with it…eventually it will all make sense 🙂

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