Embrace introspection as way to deepen your inner-peace and happiness

I am all about training our mind to become an ally in our life because a trained, calm mind is a powerful thing. This may be the single most important skill that I have been introduced to in my life. And this skill is best refined through a meditation practice. But there's also something else for us.

You see, I consider myself a beginner in my meditation practice. So, while I am making progress in the meditative practice which strengthens my mind, calms it and builds equanimity (calm-balanced mind in the face of good and bad), I realize that I can also do other thought-cleansing activities. 

And that's introspection. Merriam-Webster's definition goes like this:

introspection

noun  in·tro·spec·tion \ˌin-trə-ˈspek-shən\

:  a reflective looking inward
:  an examination of one's own thoughts and feelings

I do not see this word very often in our everyday conversations. I love this word and the idea that it stands for, and hopefully, we can become more of an introspective society that reflects inward and examines itself more closely with compassion and self-love. To me, introspection means becoming aware of my inner-world, especially as it reacts and responds to the outside world. With introspection, we can find solutions to our every day life challenges, because the answers are already within us.

Each one of us has to make our own decisions based on the inner-strength and understanding we have developed. No matter how much an answer is provided ready-made and pre-designed by others, it will only have a real impact in our lives if we live it, embrace it and make it our own. The process of introspection helps us with that.

 
 

Introspection - a stepping stone to a deeper meditative experience

Introspection may help us in our everyday life, with solutions for relationships and work and our community. But that's only the beginning. That's still working on the external level - meaning the physical world that we live in that includes people, places, situations, relationships, objects, environment, events and processes of change in nature, and so on. We are just playing in the world of external physical things.

Beyond the external, physical world, there's an entire universe within our inner-world that remains for us to explore. It is full of high potentiality for us as human beings evolving at this time in our history. Within this inner-world lies not only the answers to our current "problems" but also immense transcendental treasures that I cannot even begin to speak about because I have not fully explored them myself.  However, I've read that many mystics, saints, shamans and noble beings have. And they have left for us clues along the path.

How to take the first steps to sipping the transcendental experience?

But the question remains, how can we even begin to get there (non-physical, transcendental inner-world of treasures), if we do not take even the first steps? The first steps include introspection activities and meditation. And taking first steps means consciously investing and blocking of time for such activities daily. If we cannot invest time to do this in our worldly activities, then the fruits within our inner-reservoir will remain illusive. We can only dream about experiencing that which we do not know exists for us within us to explore. We must begin to take the first steps.

And this has to be daily; not weekly, monthly or once in a while. Daily! Just like we shower and eat our meals daily! It has to become a daily practice because the effect of continuity is more powerful than sporadic engagement in something. Whenever we do something consistently, day-in and day-out, we begin to see real progress, real results. You know this yourself from any project you have been involved in. When left alone for a while, the project takes much more effort to get back into in and then move forward, than if you were to consistently work on it, isn't it? That's been my experience and I can personally feel into this idea and see how the consistency transfers over to meditation and introspective efforts.

So how would a daily introspective and meditative practice look like?

Before I go into an example, I must say that having huge goals for me have been very powerful. My school teacher back in Mumbai used to quote, "Reach for the stars. Even if you don't reach it, at least you won't be in the mud either." And I think to have an ideal to work towards is a good thing (especially, if we don't let ourselves be overwhelmed by it).

It is simple:

 
Introspection:
15 minutes over lunch

Mediation:
60 minutes in the morning.
60 minutes in the evening.
 

The formula:

Introspection: 15 minutes over lunch
Meditation: 60 minutes in the morning. 60 minutes in the evening.

(Just to be clear by meditation I am referring to silent meditation. No music. No words. Just observing your breath as it is without changing it or altering how you breath. Just observing with non-judgment.)

Because I am suggesting this formula doesn't mean that I am a master of it. Here's a little backstory (below) of my new meditative life that started in January of this year (2016). And you'll see that what I am sharing here (Daily Introspection + Meditation) is a big goal for me.

My meditation backstory for the purpose of inspiring you

I began working to establish a daily habit right after I returned from a 10-day mediation retreat in January of 2016 (by the way, if you want to begin a new meditation practice for the new year, go to a retreat in December. You will be helped by the new year energy of new beginnings to move you forward). Since January of 2016, I have been working to cultivate this habit. I ran into several roadblocks and speed bumps and even potholes along the way. I then went to my second 10 day retreat in May of 2016 and found that that experience turbocharged my efforts to meditate daily. By September 3rd 2016, I have more or less cultivated a one-hour-a-day practice (60 minutes in the evening). I meditated for 105 consecutive days and then ran into more challenges to keep up the practice. 

There are still lots of loose rocks on my path right now that I need to overcome. So, I am getting better at keeping the habit daily but not yet perfectly consistent with it. My vision and aim is that by December 31st, 2016, I'll be established in the two-times-a-day-hourly-meditation habit.

 
 

Why do we need introspection, then, if we have meditation?

So why do I speak of introspection after having put so much emphasis on meditation in this article so far?

The reason for this is: I've not yet achieved that big goal of meditating twice a day for two hours, which I know is so important for making huge inroads in compassion, self-love, equanimity, focus, perseverance and overall peace and happiness. And many of us are not there yet. So to help me move forward on this path, I rely on introspection. It is an "easier" thing to do which also serves as a stepping stone for greater and deeper inner-work (such as meditation).

With introspection activities, you are able to look closely at your thoughts and emotions, yourself. You are not discussing them with others. Perhaps, you have a journal to help you or a book that has introspective questions. Or you've downloaded one of my free PDFs (see Happiness Forecast blog posts) that has introspective exercises. But it is all you. You are alone with yourself. You get to know yourself. And you learn a ton!

Introspection exercises are important because they help pull out the essence within you. You gain clarity about your life and renewed energy for living, for serving, for following your drams. It is very powerful.

What is an example of introspective exercise?

There are some questions that I ask myself every few months and definitely at the end of each year during an annual introspection period (I'll talk more in detail about this in another blog, remind me if I forget).

An introspective exercise is a process of asking an open-ended question to yourself. Then you either write down what comes as an answer. Or you let that question simmer within you for a few hours or a few days.  

Below are some examples. Notice that they may look similar but it is included here because how a question is phrased will draw you to it in a certain way. So in this way you'll pick a particular version of a question that stirs you deeply.

What is important to me right now?

What makes me really happy?

What is the most essential in my life? If I could have only the most essential things what would they be?  

What are the three key things in my life?

("Things" refers to more than just objects, but you could feel that!)
 

Those are some good questions. Here are a few others that you can let simmer within you:

What do I want to do before I die?

What if I knew I would die in six months, what would I do first?

What would you do today if you knew you will die tomorrow?

And some more:

What does your soul look like? (I got this one from Oprah)

If there is one problem in the world you could solve right now (Aladdin's Genie grants you this wish), then what big global issue would you solve?

If you had no self-doubt and you were fully confident in yourself and your ability to succeed, what project or business idea would you invest yourself in?

And these two are classic questions in the personal development field:

If you knew you could not fail, what would you do?

If you had all the money, time and resources in the world, what would you do with your life?

An introspective exercise is a process of asking an open-ended question to yourself. Then you either write down what comes as an answer. Or you let that question simmer within you for a few hours or a few days.

The idea is to take one question and start contemplating it. You may journal answers to it without censoring yourself. I like to pick a question and take it with me on my walks to the forest. You can also ask yourself a single question daily and each time more and more clarity can emerge.

I think this would be a good time to pick a question that pops-up for you and go play with it. So take a look at the list above and pick one. There is, of course, no one correct answer or wrong answer- it's just an introspective process to get deeper in touch with ourselves and perhaps, to shed away some things that we no longer need or want.

Let me know how it turns out for you in the comments. I'd L.O.V.E to know! :-)

Love,
Sophia

PS: Have you checked our my free ecourse: 5 Days to a Happier Life? It has daily action-steps that you can easily implement to cultivate deeper happiness in your life. Click here to sign up to this free email course.

 Photo credit and big heartfelt thanks for the beautiful images used in this post goes to Teddy Kelley and Ben Duchac, respectively.Thank you both for your beautiful creations! 

 

About Sophia Ojha

Hey there! I am so happy you found us or are revisiting us here on the blog. 
Welcome! So that's me in the photo and I blog and make videos on the topic of happiness and inner-peace. Click here to learn more about me. Enjoy your stay here at reflectionpond.com!

Love, Sophia

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Sophia Ojha

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