Developing a reflective practice
Reflection is a way of honouring grief and loss, but finding ways to structure reflection has the potential to help us create, learn and heal. Developing a reflective practice is often associated with spiritual and educational journeys, but it’s a habit anyone can grow to help learn from experience, create knowledge, support well being and improve performance.
Reflection is about noticing and bringing awareness, it can happen in stillness, during a pause, in performance and when moving. We often think about reflection as a quiet thoughtful process, but taking reflection into the moving sounding body can allow felt experience to speak. This can bring some surprising insights that go beyond mental activity. In this post I've brought together some reflective approaches I’ve gathered through my academic work and creative practice.
How do you reflect? What are your favourite reflective practices?
1. Stepping Stones
• On a piece of paper – write or draw a symbol to represent your birthdate in the top left hand corner, in the bottom right hand corner write todays date..
• Imagine you’re standing by a river, this river represents your life – to which you will add memories
• Imagine you’re getting in a hovercraft/jet-ski and travel back to the day you were born.
• As you go back review the various stepping stones that constitute your journey..
• Now imagine you’ve got a hot air balloon and you’re going to rise above the river – look down at all the stones – are there any that you are particularly interested in?
• Now pick 5 stepping stones to focus on, imagine they are in different areas of the space you are currently in – move between the spaces and consider different ways to express and document that particular stepping stone in any way you wish - in images, sounds, words, dialogue..
This exercise is an adaptation of the river stories exercise devised by Kristin Linklater. Similar ‘stepping stones’ methods of reflection are discussed by Jenny Moon in MOON, J. 1999. Reflection in learning & professional development: theory & practice, London.
2. Dr Daniel Siegel's wheel of awareness method of reflective practice draws on the concept of 8 senses:
“What we see, hear, smell, taste, touch…..
What we sense from our inner bodily sensations
What we experience with our mental activities, such as feelings, thoughts or memories.
Our sense of relational connections – with other people and the planet.
You can listen to Daniel Siegel's wheel of awareness guided meditation on his website:
3. The Gibbs (1998) method of reflection is often used in educational settings and is useful when embarking on reflecting writing.
4. One of my favourite reflective practices is the Open Floor movement score – Pause, what is the sensation you’re experiencing, where in the body.. follow that..
So I'm curious - How do you reflect? What are some of your favourite reflective practices?
If you’re a creative practitioner interested in joining me on a reflective practice short course at some point in the future – do get in touch.