Do yourself a favor . . .STOP! Stop everything. Turn off the computer, turn off the television, and for God’s sake, stop playing with your smartphone. The constant stream, of social media, pop-culture, texts and emails, and even the news, issuing from our technological devices can prevent us from ever being truly alone with our thoughts. It can be extremely difficult to improve as individuals if we never take the time to examine our lives.
I’ve found meditation to be a helpful and versatile tool in self examination. It is not necessary to join a yoga studio, and you definitely don’t need to seek out the Dalia Lama to utilize meditation. I regularly meditate, by simply finding time for silence. I search for a place where I can hear myself think, a place without distraction, to calm my mind and contemplate my thoughts and emotions. I don’t pray or hum to the Gods, I just sit in silence, and quickly find relaxation in reflecting on my thoughts and actions.
As a young adult, I never stopped for anyone or anything. Life seemed to be a race with no clear path or finish line. These days, I’ve found that good old fashion peace and quiet can be a remedy that helps me avoid speeding through life. Spending any significant time alone with my thoughts inevitably leads me to self-reflection. Regular self-reflection is a tool I couldn’t live without. It enables me to analyze my life, my flaws, and my relationships with others. It gives me an opportunity to improve my outlook on life and become a better person.
Today, people seem to shy away from silence and self-reflection, preferring rather to jump from place to place, screen to screen, and conversation to conversation. Like a newly clean junkie thrust back into the world, absolute silence can be unnerving for individuals that are accustomed to the never ending flood of media bombardment, but without it, we may find judging our progress as individuals to be a task equal in difficulty to strung out junkies attempting to pull themselves up by their own boot-straps. How can we become better human beings, if we can’t take five minutes to think about what that even means?
Through self-reflection, I’ve determined my greatest life struggle is balance. This is true for many using and recovering addicts, but I suspect the same can be said for all the “normal” people of the world. We regularly juggle family, friends, dating, work, school, finances, exercising, eating well, while trying to predict what new obstacles will arise in the future. When the challenges of life begin to pile up it can become overwhelming, I seek silence so I can sort through my life to determine what is really important. I constantly attempt to refocus and calm myself. I’m always in search of better life balance.
I’ve met workaholics who define themselves through a career, but have lost contact with their family and friends. I’ve met people who seem to need a significant other at all times, but have no idea who they are as individuals. I’ve met recovering addicts and alcoholics who attend meetings twice a day for years, only to accomplish abstinence with no other goals in mind. What’s the point of life, if we spend it constantly running, without real purpose, from one thing to the next? How can we appreciate the people and moments that truly make life worth living, if we don’t stop for long enough to realize their importance?
Individual humans are inherently imperfect, but we can seek out the solace of quiet contemplation as a refuge for self-improvement. Our imperfection gives us unlimited room to become better people, but on occasion, we must shut out the distractions of modern life in order to determine what is truly important.
“The best things in life aren’t things!” -Art Buchwald-