What Is Inner Reflection?

“There is no road to reflection; reflection is the road.”

—Theo Compernolle (author of BrainChains)

Inner reflection includes everything from noticing your physical body and where you’re holding tension, to staying present to what’s most important in your life. Making inner reflection a regular practice is essential to living a life that is balanced and purposeful.

Practicing Inner Reflection

Simply knowing that inner reflection is important doesn’t make any difference. It’s important to treat it as a practice that is cultivated over time. Start small and gradually develop habits that become ingrained within your daily life.

Meditation and Mindfulness

Meditation is a practice that supports you in developing a relationship with your thoughts. It cultivates the “neutral mind”, giving you an enhanced ability to see things as they are, free from judgment, while establishing a deeper connection to purpose. Meditation can take many forms and can be as simple as sitting still with your eyes closed and focusing on your breath. Practicing mindfulness as you go through the day will help maintain your relationship to your thoughts and help keep you on a purposeful path.


Journalling consists of capturing the present moment in a written form. Seeing thoughts as words can help bring objectivity to the thoughts that are swimming around in your mind, supporting you in discerning between those that are useful and those that are best discarded. Journalling can draw from a completely unstructured stream of consciousness or can be more systematic (e.g. listing the three most important things to focus on today or reflecting on things in your life that you’re grateful for).

Performing a Mind Sweep

The Mind Sweep is a practice that was popularized by Getting Things Done author David Allen. It consists of writing down thoughts as they occur, without any analysis or judgment getting in the way. Once you’ve captured the thoughts, you can apply the principles outlined in the Getting Things Done book to determine what, if anything, to do with each of the items you captured. Some thoughts will lead to actions or even entire projects, some will be parked for future review and the rest are discarded.

“If you don't pay appropriate attention to what has your attention, it will take more of your attention that it deserves.”

—David Allen (author of Getting Things Done)

Timeless Wisdom

Yin & Yang

The Taoist principles of Yin and Yang emphasize the importance of balance in life.

As a culture, we tend to be very Yang — there’s a lot of emphasis placed on doing and relatively little attention paid to the Yin elements of life, which include being and allowing.

The imbalance that this creates can lead to having less energy, increased levels of stress and ultimately to burnout or disease.




The Age of Distraction

There’s so much competing for your attention in these modern times that it’s easy to get into the habit of focusing most of your attention externally and, as a result, getting disconnected from your own internal world.

“We’re Already the Most Over-Informed, Under-Reflective People in the History of Civilization.”

— Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey
(Harvard University Psychologists)

Explore Pillar Two