May 31

The Power of Quiet Reflection: Unlocking Your Inner Wisdom

The best way for mental clarity and insight in our busy world is through quiet reflection.

Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you. Anne Lamott.

The Dream

In the early 1960s, Paul McCartney woke up one morning with a fully formed melody that had come to him in a dream. Not wanting to forget the tune, he immediately went to a piano to play it.

The melody was so complete that McCartney believed he may have accidentally plagiarized it or unconsciously remembered it from somewhere else. So, he spent a few weeks replaying the tune to his fellow Beatles and other friends and acquaintances to be doubly sure he wasn’t simply imitating an existing song.

Only when everyone else convinced him they hadn’t heard the tune before did McCartney accept it as an original composition and use placeholder lyrics, “Scrambled eggs, oh my baby, how I love your legs,” to remember the melody. The lyrics took a lot longer than the melody to form, but the song came together nicely in the end.

That, my friends, is the origin story for the Beatles song “Yesterday,” released on the album Help in the UK in August 1965. Thousands of artists worldwide have since covered it, making it one of the most recorded songs in history.

Let it rest

The Beatles song Yesterday is a testament to the power of inspiration and the mysterious ways creativity can strike. We hear countless such stories every day. They demonstrate a common but often-ignored paradigm:

The human mind often makes its greatest leaps of insight and creativity during periods of relaxation and detachment from focused, deliberate thinking.

Yet, we live in ways and often prioritize noise and activity. Busyness is the currency of our times.

We are too often focused on getting more information, assuming a lack of data impedes our decision-making. The reality, though, is that we already have all the information we need—we simply need to give ourselves the time and space to assimilate the data and connect the dots to make effective decisions. And that can only happen if we allow ourselves quiet moments of reflection and take time to remember the profound wisdom of stillness and silence.

Amid the hustle and bustle of everyday life, quiet moments allow us to consciously—and sometimes even subconsciously—connect the dots. Ultimately, it is through this deliberate pause and introspection that we gain the clarity needed for effective decision-making.

Sounds good, but who has the time to sit and ponder?

The art of self-reflection

Most of us aren’t able to drop our daily obligations and retreat to mountaintops, hoping for thunderbolts of wisdom from undisturbed moments of quiet contemplation. And truthfully, such extreme measures aren't necessary.

Instead, incorporating the practice of reflection into our daily routines is not only more practical but can also be transformative and life-changing.

All it takes is finding small ways to step back from the chaos of our daily lives to examine our thoughts and actions from a clear and unbiased perspective. This can lead to greater self-awareness and insight and help us understand our motivations and behavior patterns.

As we become more aware of our inner world, we can make conscious choices that align with our values and aspirations—at least, that’s the hope. It's a journey of self-discovery that anyone can embark upon—no rocket science degree required.

Here are some ways to set aside time for quiet contemplation:


All of humanity's problems stem from a person’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone. Blaise Pascal

The very word meditation conjures up images of silent torture for many. However, the reason meditation is so popular is that it is by far one of the most potent tools for deep introspection and personal growth.

Meditation creates a space of stillness and tranquility, allowing us to quiet the mind's incessant chatter and focus inward which puts us in a position to observe our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Through regular meditation, we can uncover underlying patterns and gain insight into personal motivations.

With time and dedication, this clarity deepens, enabling us to forge connections between seemingly disparate thoughts and experiences and paves the way for conscious decision-making and a more balanced, purposeful life.

Still skeptical? Try it out for yourself.

Move more

I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it. Soren Kierkegaard

It’s not just the dopamine that makes you feel good when you go for a walk. A Stanford study revealed that a person's creative output surges by approximately 60% while walking compared to when sitting.

Being out for a run or a walk has the remarkable ability to clear mental fog and connect the dots between seemingly unrelated ideas in ways that obsessively thinking about a problem cannot. Anecdotally, every person who exercises knows this.

So why don’t we do it more often?

Practice Art

If you hear a voice within you say, 'You cannot paint,' then by all means, paint, and that voice will be silenced. Vincent Van Gogh

Engaging in any artistic endeavor — music, writing, painting, doodling, knitting, etc. gives our brains a chance to direct our attention away from fixating on our problems. More importantly, engaging in art usually helps induce a flow state where time disappears, opening the door to profound insights and deeper meaning in our lives.

You don't need to wait for a surge of creative inspiration to pick up a brush or a knitting needle. Simply immersing yourself in these activities can kickstart the creative process and set the stage for inspiration to flow naturally.


We do not learn from experience... we learn from reflecting on experience. John Dewey

Many spiritual teachings underscore the profound significance of quiet reflection, offering a timeless pathway to inner peace and clarity that remains deeply relevant today. Take, for example, the three pillars of the Hindu Vedantic tradition: Shravana (learning), Manana (reflection and contemplation on the teachings), and Niddhidhyasana (abiding in the knowledge).

Manana, the practice of reflection and contemplation, serves as the vital bridge between acquiring knowledge and truly embodying it. To start engaging in Manana requires nothing more than clearing our schedules and making space for quietude in our daily lives.

In the rush of modern life, it's easy to become ensnared in a cycle of constant activity, noise, and distraction. Yet, it is precisely through the practice of quiet reflection and daily introspection that we can attain clarity and imbue our lives with a sense of purpose.

You won’t find the pearl you’re looking for if you constantly keep churning the ocean water. You need to let stillness set in for the pearl to appear.



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