In today’s busy world of go, go, go with its focus on work and achievement, there is a great need for times of reflection and planning. “Chintan” is one way that people can pull back from the frantic pace of their life for a short time each day and spend that time in reflection while processing their life experiences. “Chintan” is a process where a person spends time conducting a review of their life thus far. The purpose of doing “chintan” is to spend time processing where you have been, how you’ve grown as a person and in spirit, uncovering the lessons you’ve learned, contemplating what is holding you back from further growth and to establish and create a plan for where you are going in your life in the future and what lessons and experiences you want to have along the way.
It is easy to lose touch with where your life is in the current moment. Many people talk about the need to “plan” where you want your life to go, but not many make it clear that those plans need to take into consideration the entire experience of your life thus far or explain why that is so important in your “planning.”
A Chintan Life Review is a time of self-reflection. Chintan is derived from the Sanskrit word cintanam, which means “think.” Chintan also means “contemplation, thought, mind.” The purpose of Chintan is to spend time in a quiet place meditating and thinking about your past experiences with an eye to what you have learned from them, where you may be feeling stuck and where you are holding on to negativity what you need to forgive. Once this process is complete, you can then shift to thinking about where you are in your life now and what you want to create in the future.
During Chintan one should spend 15-20 minutes each day, focusing on self-reflection. Chintan should begin with one’s earliest memories and move forward chronologically in the beginning (but trust that whatever memories, thoughts and images come up for you are the right ones that you need to process and pay attention to at this time). Ask yourself as these images and memories are revealed: What their message is for you? Is it a lesson that you could learn? Is it something or someone you need to forgive in order to move on? Whatever it is, there is growth and healing available to you at this time if you are willing to go through this process and do the work in order to move forward with your life.
Guruji Trivedi recommends doing Chintan sitting up before you fall asleep at night. Set aside 15-20 minutes of time in a quiet, private area where you will not be disturbed by people or pets. He suggests lighting a handle or several candles and placing them at eye level and sitting quietly in a relaxed position and using this time, with eyes closed, to begin to think of the times in your early life where you had strong experiences, both good and bad. Focus on these experiences and what they show you about yourself, your strengths and your weakness.
At the end of each brief session of Chintan you may want to spend a few minutes journaling in a blank book or notebook about what you learned.
What memories came forward for healing and recognition? Did you discover strengths you have? Weaknesses that you still need to address? What and how can you do things differently the next time?
After the first two weeks of Chintan, you can shift your focus into deciding, based on what you have learned from your Chintan experiences and your journaling what areas of your life you will now begin to focus on, what types of experiences you would like to create in your life now and work on forgiving any situations that have kept you stuck in order to facilitate healing in your life. It is helpful to do the process of self-reflection, or Chintan, every night each day.
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