We have a choice in how to live. One way to live is unreflective. The unreflective life involves reacting to circumstances from our unconscious patterns without engaging our intelligence, living from habit, and thinking little or not at all about life and our place in it.
The other way to live is reflective. The reflective life involves being aware of our life, thoughts, actions, and habits, and making chooses.
Would you guess that most people live reflectively or unreflectively?
If you guessed that most people prefer the reflective life, you might be surprised to read an article that recently appeared in the New York Times Sunday Review titled No Time to Think. This article reported on a recent scientific study that found that a majority of 700 subjects found it unpleasant to be alone in a room with their thoughts for only 6 to 15 minutes. Even more surprising, in one experiment in the study, 64 percent of men, and 15 percent of women, began self-administering electric shocks when left alone to think!
So, if this study is accurate, it means that most people really don't like being with their thoughts and emotions and are living unreflective lives.
If we have never spent time paying attention to our thoughts and feelings, it's easy to be uncomfortable with what is encountered when turning inward. If we've never taken the time to introspect, our mind will likely be a mess of unresolved conflicts and confusing emotions. No wonder many people avoid time alone with their thoughts.
But, humans are mind-beings. Our entire life is managed and lived through our mind. Even our experience of our body is through our mind. So, if we avoid being with our feeling and thoughts, then we are missing out on a vast area of life.
The great Greek philosopher, Socrates said, "The unexamined life in not worth living for a human being." He was on to something.
When we live unreflectively, we spend the precious moments on our life in the shallows. Our most profound feelings and experiences are found in loving feelings, beautiful clear thoughts, and the exquisite peace of a calm and quiet mind. But we will have little or none of this if we fear turning inward.
It is only when we live a reflective life that we can resolve our unresolved conflicts, harmonize and pacify our emotions, and seek answers to our unanswered questions. Then we can become friends with our mind, and discover the immense beauty that can only be found within. Until we do so, we attempt to run from ourselves.
If one is not living the reflective life and would like to do so, one path to the beautiful depths of life is through meditation. Through meditation, one can slowly become familiar with the mind's contents, overcome the fears of what might lie within, straighten out self-defeating and convoluted beliefs, smooth out warped emotions, and over time, find peace.
Once one is able to float in the peaceful mind, and remain at ease among the mind's contents, then the great wisdom of Socrates' statement will be clear.