The power of reflection…and “what” returns

My throat went on vacation…and brought me along for the ride…well that’s my description for the laryngitis I’ve been experiencing.

This state of existence has led me to expand my periods of silence—to give regular periods of rest to my vocal chords over the past days. While these rest periods could have just been stretches of mindless silence, I’ve taken these as periods for intentional reflection.

I’m big on self-reflection. It’s been critical for my personal and professional growth. Prior to the current coronavirus-associated pandemic & a disruption to my travel, I had regular retreats that included reflection time as a core tenet—or in some cases the entire agenda.

These times of intense self-reflection allow me to pause and ask myself—How are you? How did you arrive at this place and time (literally and figuratively)? What will you leave behind when you move forward and what will you purposefully take with you? All critically important interrogations for myself, the last question in particular is about what returns from the period of reflection when I emerge to move forward.

The impact of stopping to reflect—a critically important practice that we too often fail to engage as we exist in cycles of endless busyness—is amplified by the ACTION of intentionally shedding some things that are not serving me well to increase time, as well as mental and physical capacity, to move forward with other things.

While my current ability to sit in silence and spend some intense time in reflection has arisen due to a physical challenge rather than a planned pause, I fully embrace the opportunity. It reminds of the need to plan for such periods with intention and anticipation rather than waiting on a “forced” period of pause. The importance of anticipating change and preparing for it is a lesson that I usually draw from plants in the season of autumn that is rapidly coming to a close. A period when deciduous trees degrade their green chlorophyll and drop their leaves in an active period of preparation for rest during winter.

Many of us resist planning for and fully embracing intentional quiet, pause, engaged reflection. As I have stated before, it “goes against all the incessant action that too many of us value – i.e., the illusion of busyness as evidence of commitment and productivity.”

Yet, I recognize that to embrace the ability to reflect and ask “where am I now and how and with what (and sometimes the pertinent question is with whom?) do I move forward?” is needed for sustained commitment, impact and productivity.

So while I didn’t (this time) plan for the current periods of reflection and invitation to deeper self-awareness, I welcome them…and I will certainly move forward with purposeful commitment to plan for the next period to understand, engage and support myself—so that I can also understand, engage and support others.

If you have thoughts on this or other posts, find me on Twitter at @BerondaM