On Purpose: A Busy Woman’s Guide to Practicing

The internet is a veritable buffet of quizzes, questionnaires, and slideshows purporting to help you understand yourself: What your hair says about you, what sunglasses are best for your face, how the shape of your nails reveals your personality (yes, that’s a real one!). But how do you know which ones to take seriously, and which ones to disregard? Setting aside the truly ridiculous – looking at you, nails – there is some clarity to be found in self examination sites and even quizzes, even of the purely physical kind. My favorite includes working with the chakras.

If you’ve never heard of chakras, they are an Ayurvedic tradition common in yoga and meditative studies that looks at the body from seven sources of energy. The word ‘Chakra’ translates as wheel or disk, and the idea is that every physical body has seven areas of concentrated energy. The reside mostly along the line of the spine, all the way up to the top of the head, and are often illustrated as seven disks vertically aligned with different colors associated.

Does the body actually have seven spinning energetic disks inside? No, of course not. But that isn’t the point. The point is that these seven chakras provide a road map for the mind to see where it might grow stronger, resonate with a particular ideal, or simply examine how your intentions might be unfolding. For example, there is said to be a ‘throat chakra’, or an energetic source at the throat. The color of this chakra is blue, and the power of this chakra is the ability to vocalize wants, needs, and beliefs, and speak with clear intention and authenticity. This chakra is the metaphorical representation of the mindful intention of cultivating the power to speak your truth with clarity and conviction, that matters. Strengthening this chakra with emotional and physical activity – yoga poses, meditations, and affirmations that bolster courage – serve to condition your conscious mind into being more aware of this trait, and building confidence in your abilities.

Why does any of this matter? Because the act of self reflection and examination are the onlyways to enrich your personal talents and abilities, so as to evolve into the kind of person you aspire to be. Think of it like a weight lifter who squats in front of the mirror: to monitor form. Becoming great – whether in career, personal life, hobbies or goals – requires attention to detail. It requires that one honestly appraises weaknesses not as failures, but as chances for growth.

Let’s say you are training for a marathon. First requirement, of course, is practice. Then comes refining and conditioning areas in which you are weak. It is absolutely necessary to analyze areas that might be keeping you from the next level or completing the marathon. To do so you must be honest in areas that need improvement, crucially examine technique or form so that you can build up yourself to be stronger. This is self examination. And it’s applicable in any area of our life we wish to improve.

What studying your Chakras does for your mind is similar to taking a long bath and reflecting on a hard day. Or conversing with a trusted friend about a personal struggle. Or meditating. Or looking over an article you’ve written with an editor’s critical eye. The form of the reflection isn’t as important as the occurrence of reflection itself. They are all examinations that requires honesty, and are rewarded in opportunities for improvement.

Here is what you need to know:

You are a busy woman in a demanding world. Regardless, do not get so caught up in getting things done that you neglect time to reflect on areas that need your attention.

In whatever ways and practices that work for you, make sure you are taking time to check in with how you feel about yourself and what you want to become.

Be diligent in your commitment to self-examination, not because you believe yourself to be weak, but because you believe in your ability to grow even better and stronger.

And as you do so, be as honest as you are kind, forgiving, and compassionate. Empoweryourself, not take away your own power.

What does is look like to self-examine in a compassionate way? It means as you reflect on areas in which you need to improve, you are kind and forgiving of your own shortcomings. Being critical does not mean you need to be rude or insult yourself with messages of “I’m not good enough”.

Your practice might simply begin with questions that help you gain clarity, such as:

“Where do I feel I could offer more in my personal or professional endeavors?

What actions could I take that would make me happier?

Where am I letting fear prohibit me from trying something new?”

If you’re setting aside time to reflect on your day, don’t jump to beating yourself up. Instead, be honest about areas in which you could have or should have taken a different approach, and make a commitment to use this experience as a lesson. None of your reflection and examination has to have disciplinary punishment.
Be kind. Be honest. And be encouraging of yourself to see any weaknesses as areas to improve, and your willingness to bravely look at yourself as proof of your own incredible power.

If you’re looking for more information on Chakras, start with this article from MindBodyGreen.

photo: simple weekend outfit (modified) by Geneva Vanderzeil apairandasparediy.com via Flickr (source)(license)