“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”
Have you ever whiled away a few moments daydreaming? How about time spent reflecting on more profound topics? Defined as “the examination or observation of one's own mental and emotional processes”, introspection can be a challenging, but also rewarding experience.
As the speed of modern life shows no signs of abating, making time for reflection is arguably more important than ever. Fortunately, there are several options available. In Thailand, a retreat offers ‘black rooms’ where you are left to your own devices in pitch-black for a week. Such is the dedication to keeping guests in the dark that people in night vision goggles deliver meals! Luckily, less extreme options are available. For those seeking a more relaxing scene for internal dialogue, ‘silent retreats’ are now fairly commonplace with the aim of minimising conversation between guests. Furthermore, apps such as Headspace and Buddhify can help guide us through simple steps to calm our minds. In fact, even holding a Yin yoga pose for a few minutes can elicit surprising emotions!
Therefore, establishing a routine to process the thoughts and emotions which arise could help us avoid certain pitfalls. As humans we tend to judge events as either successes or failures relatively early. However, if we accept the highs and lows and focus on the process, research shows we become more adept at dealing with various challenges*. This mindfulness technique also reduces the risk of our thought process taking us into a negative thought spiral whereby one bad memory triggers a cascade of self-esteem draining emotions. In fact, developing our introspective skills to avoid these situations can help increase our levels of dopamine and serotonin, our mood boosting neurotransmitters.
Inevitably, time, age, mood and many other factors will affect our introspective moments. Certain things we will like, other things we won’t. It could be a deep philosophical journey, or it could be something silly. Either way, it is bound to be interesting!
“Who in the world am I? Ah that’s the great puzzle.”
Alice in Wonderland