As we continue on our individual personal journeys, periods of action are ideally followed by periods of reflection. However, there are many kinds of reflection – some more helpful than others. Sitting and reflecting in meditation can be a positive activity, but can also devolve into “morbid self-reflection” (AA Big Book), where we can criticize our past acts or the way others have treated us.

If reflection is to be helpful, perhaps, then it is best used within a structure. For instance journaling about specific actions of the past, followed by identifying lessons learned or changes you may want to make as a result of past actions and their consequences. This type of reflection requires quiet time alone; however, it also asks action.

Quiet reflection can also allow hopes and dreams to surface. A mindful meditation practice in which you use visioning or guided imagery can help develop insights into new possibilities.

But is there also a benefit in ‘mindless’ activity? Sometimes, it feels good just to stare at the walls for a bit. The new coloring books for grownups could fit into this category. Puttering around the house or walking/driving without direction or a destination also can fit into the category. These are actions that take less conscious attention, and actually divert enough conscious awareness so that the subconscious can process lessons learned in the past.

This differs from the numbing that occurs from drugs, alcohol, or television. In these last examples, the subconscious can be hijacked by the activity as well, robbing you of the opportunity to truly process events and make change. This is why a newly-sober person may find that although they have cried many tears of grief over the loss of a loved one, the grief has not lessened at all over the years of drinking.

Ideally, in your journey to healing and integrity, you will be able to find time alone in which you may be able to put into practice various styles of reflection. Perhaps there are some forms of reflection that have helped you more than others. We invite you to engage in our conversation about growth, self-compassion, and moving toward integrity.