Sometimes when I arrive at Yom Kippur, my mind feels blanker than it should and it’s hard to pull material from the past year on which to reflect and review.
I’ve noticed this experience even more so since becoming a mother because time is scarce and so much of my energy is outwardly focused on others.
As I began preparing for Yom Kippur this year, I wanted to develop a new ritual and concrete tool that would capture my experiences throughout the year so that I had a record. This would help me document my experiences day to day and for annual review during the Days of Awe.
Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist, and lately, I’ve been reading his books while at the home of my social worker friend for my daughter’s play date.
I was attracted to an exercise that Thich Nhat Hanh developed in the practice of Beginning Anew to help us to look deeply and honestly at ourselves, our past actions, speech and thoughts, and to create a fresh beginning within ourselves and in our relationships with others.
So I decided to create my own Buddhist-inspired prompts for reflection, which you’ll find below and can use in one of two ways:
- Respond to the prompts in your journal on the days you feel called to throughout the year.
- Create a Reflection Jar (based on the gratitude jar concept) to write down and place your responses in throughout the year.
Of course, you could also participate both ways! You can involve your partner and children in the process, too.
Four Buddhist-Inspired Prompts for Reflection
1: What am I grateful for?
This is a seemingly simple prompt that has huge potential for the way you view your experiences. What you’re grateful for can be a tiny thing or something big; either way, acknowledging it shifts your reflections to a positive space.
2: When have I not been my best self?
We’ve all got mistakes and regrets—naming them and processing them helps to make sure they don’t turn into shame and self-hatred. This prompt requires your honesty and massive amounts of self-love.
3: What am I feeling?
Too often we’re not acknowledging the range of emotions that are coursing through our bodies on any given day. Naming your feelings gives you the space to reflect on them and understand their impact on you.
4: What do I want to express?
This could be something you want to say to yourself or another person. It’s another one of those deceptively simple prompts that can unlock the precise things that need to get out of your head (so they can be healed and/or expressed in some way!).
Whether you want to respond to these prompts in your journal or create a Reflection Jar to hold your responses, I’ve created a special worksheet for you to engage in this process. Download it for free in the link below!