Gathering the day

How to develop a daily reflection practice that coaxes you out of the chaos and into the calm.

The word ‘reflection’ comes from the Latin, reflexio, meaning the act of bending back. By deliberately ‘bending’ or looking back to a past moment – whether pleasant or unpleasant – it can be taken in more fully, offering a chance to learn and grow.

This can deepen your understanding of yourself and others, heighten awareness and attune you to new possibilities in future moments. Being able to step out of time and reflect is one of the hallmarks of being human. It sets us apart from other animals.

And neuroscientists, experts who explore activity in the brain, have come to understand that the mind is continually reflecting – throughout the day and even during the night.

According to neuroscientist Vilayanur Ramachandran, it’s one of the ways people make sense of themselves in the world. Some days you might not notice you’re doing it and life will seem a blur, while on others it could be impossible to switch it off as you find yourself replaying that comment from a friend (or that missed test answer) over and over again. Reflection happens whether you’re aware of it or not.


Harnessing this special human power is an ancient practice that can be found in many cultures and traditions, in the form of a reflection at the end of the day. Some believe that if you could follow only a single practice for self-growth, this would be a helpful one. It’s like sifting the contents of the day to find treasure – the treasure of wisdom – regardless of what kind of day it was.

You might like to find a quiet place to do this; you could write your reflections in a journal or share the practice with a friend or family member. Whatever form your daily reflection takes, it can help you to develop a vital friendship with yourself, deepen appreciation for your life and hone your inner navigational system.


There are endless ways to reflect on the day. One way is to list three things for which you’re grateful. It doesn’t matter how small they seem, but try to choose things particular to this day. As you name each thing, take a breath and note where you feel this resonate in your body.

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