It is near impossible to encounter someone who isn’t “just too busy” these days. Our modern lives have become a demanding balancing act of family, work, raising children, and keeping up to date on important events. Though it may seem easier to lose ourselves in our calendars, it is incredibly important to set aside personal time for introspection. Introspection is the act of examining thoughts, feelings, and sensations to gain insight into one’s life. Taking a few minutes each day to practice self introspection can have tremendous positive changes in the emotional quality of one’s life. Introspection helps to bridge the gaps of who we are today and who we want to become. Here are some practical tools that can help in guiding one’s introspection journey.
- Writing – Throughout the Jewish year, we read stories that exist to guide, teach and inspire us in new and helpful ways. These messages provide a glimpse into the world of our rich past and tell us what our values, hopes and dreams could be. It can be helpful in our own lives to use written word to reflect upon where we are in our lives, as well as where we want to go. Journaling is a practical activity that allows the thoughts from our over-active minds to manifest physically on paper, providing clarity, stress relief and guidance. Gifting yourself a journal is an opportunity to communicate with subconscious thoughts and feelings you may be overlooking while bringing awareness to these feelings. Awareness is the first step in processing emotions. Journaling can be a visual aid that takes us from being “stuck in our head” to peace of mind.
- Meditation – There is an ever-expanding body of research that shows that meditation is a helpful tool in self-awareness and stress relief. While it can seem overwhelming to dive into the vast world of meditation, the most important thing to remember is that a meditation practice is called a practice for a reason. Consistency is the key. Try this exercise: set a timer for 5 minutes a day, close your eyes and focus on your inhales and exhales. When a thought comes into your head, notice the thought and simply come back to your breath. For a practical guide on Jewish Mediation, I recommend Aryeh Kaplan’s “Jewish Mediation”.
- Seek support – The nature of introspection can be a very personal and private journey, but there are times in our lives when we need extra support. While developing one’s self, it is important to seek connection with those people in our lives that see us through eyes of loving-kindness. It is not so easy to change our perspective to gain clarity into the reality of a situation. There are times when the most productive thing we can do is seek support outside of ourselves. While friends and family are wonderful to talk to, it can also be extremely helpful to receive a non-biased opinion on certain situations. Support groups and therapists are excellent tools that provide a safe space in navigating one’s journey.
Taking the time to practice introspection builds self-knowledge which ultimately leads to making more aligned decisions, enhancing one’s overall sense of wellbeing. There are many more ways of gaining insight into our beautiful and complex lives and finding the right strategy for each individual is the key. I invite you to try one or more of these insightful practices so that you gain clarity and personal empowerment on your journey to a wholesome and balanced life.