A Journey into Introspection

· November 15, 2016

We live in a fast-paced world that gives us a feeling of speed and unrest that practically forces us to focus our attention outward, without setting aside a few moments to also look inward. What does introspection reveal?

“Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”
― C.G. Jung

The language of introspection

The term “introspection” has been the subject of many questions and controversies in the fields of philosophy and psychology.

Even in Classical Greece, Plato asked himself:

Why should we not calmly and patiently review our own thoughts, and thoroughly examine and see what these appearances in us really are?”

Introspection was sometimes compared to perception and memory. But, what does the term really mean? Introspection is a mental process through which a person looks inward and is able to analyze their own experiences.

That is, they perform self-observation about their conscious processes (private objects, mental facts or phenomenal things), which can be learned about to a greater extent.
Therefore, that would mean introspection is actually the reflective capacity of the mind to refer to or become aware of it’s own states.

Characteristics of introspection

Introspection is subjective, since it’s the individual itself who observes themselves, based on their own judgement and perception of reality.

In this context, it would be truly impossible to approach the subject objectivity, seeing as it’s a topic that has to do with oneself.

It also has a certain feature of unfolding, since we take ourselves as subjects of analysis, in addition to occupying the role of observer or investigator.

The introspective process is complex and requires training if you want to achieve good results. You must also have a good attitude – one of acceptance and sincerity – and not let yourself get carried away in a web of self-deception.

Practicing introspection

The practice of introspection begins with the act of paying attention and of listening to oneself.

In any situation that’s presented to you or in which you become immersed, rather than rush, it’s advisable to stop for a moment and examine your internal state, observe it and connect with your feelings.

When we take the time to observe and accept our internal state, we can pay  much better attention to the situation than if we let ourselves get carried away by our first impulse.

This complex process leads us to reflect deeply about who we are, how we feel and what we’ve learned, besides offering the possibility of moving forward in our spiritual development.

Introspection helps you discern what’s good for you, and provides the tools needed to transform the situations at hand and go about our merry way.

It’s very important to stop every day and take a breath, no matter where you are or what you’re doing. Focus your attention on yourself, your being and your essence, connecting with the silence and learning to listen to yourself.

That being said, introspection has both positive and negative aspects which serve as a means to better yourself and progress through life.

It’s a useful method to approaching your psychic reality, which provides the foundation for your personal stability, and allows a deeper exploration of your being and the ability to make changes.

Introspection not only helps us get to know ourselves better, but to respect, love and accept ourselves the way we are. 

Eckhart Tolle had some very powerful words to add about the subject:

“When you lose touch with inner stillness, you lose touch with yourself. When you lose touch with yourself, you lose yourself in the world. Your innermost sense of self, of who you are, is inseparable from stillness. This is the I Am that is deeper than name and form.”

Image courtesy of Emerald Wake