Reflection Meditation: Learning Through Your Experiences in Addiction Recovery
Read below to uncover how to use reflection meditation to enhance your recovery.
“Experience is the teacher of all things.” - Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar had the right idea, but what he should have added is, experience is the teacher of all things, when it is reflected upon.
Learning from experience is our greatest teacher in life.
Unfortunately, many of us trudge through life on autopilot, rarely checking in with ourselves and unknowingly stifling our own growth.
If we want to gain insight and wisdom, grow, and become the most optimal version of ourselves, then we can harness that power from reflection meditation.
What is Reflection Meditation?
When we think of meditation traditionally, we think of clearing the mind, and perhaps focusing on our breathing. Reflection meditation actually veers away from this method.
Instead of clearing the mind, we use reflection meditation to focus on our thoughts to gain insight, understanding, and wisdom about ourselves and those around us. With this process, we choose a topic, remember a situation, or ask a question, and notice the feelings that come up with it.
During addiction recovery we are truly on a journey of self-discovery and personal growth. Part of that growth comes from taking time to step back from the outside world, and to reflect on ourselves.
This can mean reflecting on our past behaviours, our line of thinking, and maybe even patterns in our lives that we’re beginning to notice.
The process of reflective meditation is not like rumination and the negative feelings associated with it. The intent isn’t to look back on all of our past mistakes and beat ourselves up about things we’ve done.
Instead, this practise is intentional, with purpose. We practise reflection meditation to learn about ourselves and gain insight. With newfound insight about ourselves, we can make better choices moving forward.
Why A Foundation in Mindfulness is Invaluable
Reflection meditation can be a difficult or uncomfortable process if we are unable to reflect on ourselves in an unbiased way. The process can also be difficult if we are easily distracted by mental chatter or streams of unrelated thoughts.
Because of this, it will be more beneficial to engage in reflection meditation after having developed a foundation in mindfulness meditation. The ability to be mindful helps us separate our ego from the objective nature of our actions, feelings, or thoughts.
The way to truly reap the benefits of this form of meditation is by stepping into the process in a fully unbiased way, and separating ourselves from self-judgment or negative feelings.
Benefits of Reflection Meditation
There are many benefits of practising reflection meditation. The nature of this practice is metacognitive. This means that we are thinking about thinking, or thinking about our own thoughts and behaviours.
Because of this, reflection meditation affects the brain in positive ways, including creating changes in the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex controls our decision making, our self-awareness, and our ability to pay attention.
A study conducted in 2010 showed that the participants’ ability to be introspective, or reflective, was correlated with the amount of gray matter in their prefrontal cortex.
Bearing this in mind, reflection meditation is greatly beneficial for a healing brain that has been damaged by the ongoing effects of drug and alcohol abuse
Using This Meditation to Identify Limiting Beliefs
One way that we can practise reflection meditation is by reviewing a situation that previously occurred. Replaying a situation in our mind from an internal third party perspective helps us identify limiting beliefs or deep seeded beliefs we have about ourselves.
For instance, we can reflect on an argument we had with someone. We can take a look at how we responded and what triggered our anger. We may come to realise that the other person mentioned something about our spending habits that triggered us to become defensive, because we have a deep seeded belief that we are bad with money.
This is just one example, but practising reflection meditation can allow us to uncover many limiting beliefs about ourselves. Beliefs such as believing that we are not worthy, believing that we are unlovable, or believing that we need to provide value in order to be accepted.
There are so many limiting beliefs that inform our daily thoughts and decisions. Uncovering them through reflection meditation creates a new path for us to actively follow and shift those beliefs to ones that are more beneficial.
Using This Meditation to Assess Our Values and Goals
Practising reflection meditation also puts us more in alignment with what we really want. Oftentimes, we move through life on autopilot, and we don’t stop to check in with ourselves.
When we engage in the reflection meditation process, we can take a look at what our true values and goals are - not what sounds good, but what is truly authentic to us.
We can look at if our actions and thoughts have been in line with those values, and we can reassess our goals if we find that we have changed.
Additional Benefits of Reflection Meditation:
- Gain deeper insight
- Reassess values and goals
- Become aware of behaviour patterns
- Uncover limiting beliefs
- Foster greater concentration
- Increase awareness of our words and actions in daily life
- Increase awareness of our strengths and perceived flaws
- Improve decision making
Reflection Meditation for Beginners
Ready to try a reflection meditation on your own? Follow the step-by-step guidelines below to get started.
Select a theme, situation, or topic as the focal point of your meditation.
The idea that you choose to ponder may be something you’ve been thinking about lately, or may be a conflict you’ve recently faced. Oftentimes, our intuition will nudge us towards what it would be most beneficial for us to ponder.
Get into a comfortable position.
Find a comfortable place to either sit or lay down. Try to choose a place where you won’t be interrupted. Remove any distractions, such as the television or radio, and place your phone on silent.
Begin to center yourself by taking a few deep breaths. Breathe deeply inward, hold your breath for a few seconds, and slowly exhale. Once again, breathe deeply inward, hold your breath for a few seconds, and slowly exhale. Do this several times, until you begin to feel more relaxed and calm.
Place the theme, situation, or topic at the forefront of your mind.
If you decided to choose a situation that happened previously, replay the situation in your mind. Feel the feelings you felt in that moment, and notice what feelings or thoughts come up. Simply notice them rather than judging them or trying to change them. If you find yourself feeling angry, guilty, or hurt, try to notice and acknowledge these feelings, rather than judging yourself for experiencing them.
Gently transition into a place of analysis.
This is the focal point of reflection meditation.
Begin to ponder about the theme, situation, or topic, as well as the feelings and thoughts that came up.
Take a look at what you felt, and start to go beyond it. Ask yourself what could have prompted this feeling to come up, or what kind of belief you have about yourself or other people which would have caused the feeling to come up. This is the time to look deeper into the underlying beliefs and mindsets we have that continue to fuel our actions and patterns of behaviour.
If you uncover a belief, be sure not to place judgement on yourself for that. Continue to dig further, to understand where that belief may have come from. Practicing ongoing non-judgement and continued curiosity will help you to gain the most benefit from this practise.
Once you’ve fully explored the theme, situation, or topic, gently release your thoughts surrounding it.
Transition from an internal focus to an external focus, and ease your awareness back towards your current environment. Open your eyes...
Pro-Tip for Reflection Meditation Practise
Unlike many other forms of meditation, reflection meditation isn’t necessarily meant to be practised on a daily basis. We can experience mental exhaustion when practising too frequently, so it is best to begin engaging in this practise on a weekly basis.
Start your journey with meditation
Just getting started on your meditation journey? Recoverlution are here to help! We offer detailed information and step-by-step guides for a range of beginner meditations, from body scan and visualisation to focused and loving-kindness.
If your thirsty for more, you can access unlimited meditations, breath work and holistic treatments within our dedicated to wellness hub. Here, our professionals will guide you each and every step of the way.
Regardless of where you are in recovery, there’s a meditation practise that will best suit you and your needs, and help guide you along your journey of recovery from addiction.
Author - Thurga
- The End of Reflection - https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/12/fashion/internet-technology-phones-introspection.html
- The Contemplative Mind in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
- Why You Should Be Using Reflective Meditation for Accelerated Growth - https://www.goalcast.com/2019/03/28/reflective-meditation-for-accelerated-growth/.