a moment of madness

I have, somewhat tongue in cheek, called reflection “a moment of madness”.  Why?  Well, in that moment one releases the world one is in, and steps into an unknown in order to see where one was.  It is like stepping into nothing, something you would only do if you were “insane.” Of course, where one steps to, immediately becomes a new world, and we are not really stepping outside ourselves; but in the instant it can feel as if we are doing just that. 

Reflection can be about some little thing, or it can be about our whole world.  The operation is the same, but we learn very early in our lives that stepping out of crying when we are hungry, for example, to be able to look at ourselves and sense how we feel and say “I am hungry” ... is a safe act.  Indeed such reflection leads to social living, it is desirable. 

We do not notice, but in any reflection we change. Our nervous system, our bodyhood changes, and we become a subtly different person that yet conserves the identity we know as “myself”.

a responsible pause

Without reflection, we would not be able to make a choice.
Without reflection we could not act responsibly. 

Reflection results in a sense of lightening, as it involves letting go.
Reflection happens in the emotion of love and in trust.


reflection “flattened” as a thing

The idea that it is important to reflect has been incorporated into many endeavours.  However, what is done in the name of reflection is often something quite different than what I wish to evoke as a fundamental dynamic here.   What passes for reflection is often just an admonition to “remember or review” what you have done, or report on your activities.  Sometimes it is recommended that you evaluate your doings and based on that you can alter or amend.  Further we may think back on what we have done and explain or justify our actions in situations where we or others do not like the consequences.  All of these activities can be useful, and all of them can be accompanied by what I mean by reflection; namely a self generated release from one’s current beliefs or constructs in order to permit an alternative to arise as potentially relevant.  

Reflection can only occur in the experience, it is a recursion. It happens with or within an attendant emotion, a sense of release, of openness, of acceptance. In that sense reflection is an act of self-love, as we open to a vision of ourselves as more extensive than our beliefs about ourselves.

beginning of reflection

When we reflect we may indeed think about ourselves, but that thinking follows on the release of certitude in which alternative visions are systemically grasped, of felt, and then made visible to ourselves in language.  I have wondered whether one needs language to reflect, and believe that its biological origin as a pause-of-change precedes language.   

The coyote chasing a rabbit who scuttles under a fence may pause momentarily before jumping or running around the end of the fence (or abandoning the chase).   In that moment of pause the coyote releases the directness of its chase, and one or other of the alternatives which an observer of the coyote might discern just falls into place as the apparent coherence, and then the coyote moves again (and we say it “chooses.”)

We too have this moment of pause, which may be so short we don’t note it.  Alternatively, it may take time as we let our inner configurations to form and reform to generate a sense that is coherent, and acceptable in all its dimensions of concern.   

We often need to give ourselves space, time and a release from current engagement in order for this reflection to take place. 

Yet it can also happen in moments; the release of whatever we are holding can immediately reveal alternatives that feel as if they were eager to surface.

a moment of pause