by Dawn Pavli, December 31st, 2018
Let’s face it, life seems to move at an ever quicker pace from year to year. Responsibilities pile up and self care becomes a luxury instead of a need. We can easily neglect taking care of ourselves in lieu of getting through our to do list. This ever mounting pressure can lead to some real physical and mental dis-ease and disease. That’s why hitting the pause button on your busy life is so important.
New Years is an excellent time to pause and take a look at where you have been and where you are going. It can be a rich time for deep self-reflection. We say good bye to the year which brought us challenges and joys. We welcome in the new, with positive intentions for growth and happiness. Self reflection can be a powerful tool to bring about well being.
Pausing is about taking a break, taking a breath, stopping or slowing down. Instead of taking on more, take on less. I know it’s sounds easier than it is, but consider the many benefits from taking some “me” time. Researchers and doctors have seen how stress impacts us psychologically and physically. Practices that help to lower stress such as self-reflection can bring about changes in the mind and body from lowering blood pressure (Brook et al. 2013), boosting immunity (Vitlic, Lord, & Phillips, 2014), and decreasing inflammation (Breines et al. 2013), to improving your mood and sense of purpose (Martin, Travers, Morisano, & Locke, 2015).
Here are some ways to pause and take stock of what matters most to you. Spend some time sitting with these questions or go for a walk to help you think. The more time you give to this act of self reflection, the more benefits you may begin to notice. Of course you can do this anytime, not just once a year. The more you turn your mind towards positive thinking, the more positive your mind becomes and the better you feel (Motamed-Jahromi, Fereidouni, & Dehghan, 2017). As you increasingly feel better your good energy will most likely spread to others as well.
The Art of Self-Reflection
Find a place that feels peaceful, with little distractions. Set aside the time and give yourself permission. Start by becoming aware of your breath, your body, and your emotions. What is going on for you right now? What are you bringing with you into this practice? Spend as much time as you need to, to get in touch with the person beneath all the busyness so that you can simply be. Then when it feels like you have settled into a calmer, clearer state, ask yourself one of these questions. See if you can allow the answer to arise in it’s own time. Listen deeply for the response to come instead of reaching for it or thinking that you know. It’s like throwing a rock into a still pond. The question is the rock and the answers are the ripples on the water. Maybe nothing much comes. That’s ok too. You can come back to your breath and body and ask again. Perhaps a new question will arise, one that is more relevant to you. Follow your intuition and trust emergence.
Questions for Self-Reflection
Keeping a journal is especially rewarding if you intend to make a New Years ritual of your self-reflections. If you do this, you can see all the progress you’ve made. I heard somewhere that life is short, why not take the time to make your life truly meaningful. Be curious about the journey.
Bye Bye 2018. What a year it’s been!
~Dawn Pavli is a meditation teacher, certified massage therapist, and dietetics and nutrition student currently enrolled in a DPD at San Francisco State University.
Breines, J. G., Thomas, M. V., Gianferante, D., Hanlin, L., Chen, X., & Rohleder, N. (2013). Self- compassion as a predictor of interleukin-6 response to acute psychosocial stress. Brain, behavior, and immunity, 37, 109-14.
Brook, R. D., Appel, L. J., Rubenfire, M. W., Ogedegbe, G. T., Bisognano, J. A., Elliott, W. R.,
… Rajagopalan, S. (2013). Beyond Medications and Diet: Alternative Approaches to Lowering Blood Pressure: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association. Hypertension, 61(6), 1360-1383.
Martin, A, Travers, C. J., Morisano, D, & Locke, E. A. (2015). Self-Reflection, Growth Goals, and Academic Outcomes: A Qualitative Study. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 85(2), 224- 241.
Motamed-Jahromi, M., Fereidouni, Z., & Dehghan, A. (2017). Effectiveness of Positive Thinking Training Program on Nurses’ Quality of Work Life through Smartphone Applications. International Scholarly Research Notices, 2017, 6.
Vitlic, A., Lord, J., & Phillips, M. (2014). Stress, aging and their influence on functional, cellular and molecular aspects of the immune system. AGE, 36(3), 1169-1185.
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