I recently read an article about whether you can teach reflective practice. I tend to believe it’s more a matter of learning rather than teaching and in a way the article agrees, for it’s based on the experience of an instructor learning from a student’s experience. It’s a useful guide for helping to unravel the ‘mystery’ of reflective practice.
OK so, yes, you can learn reflective practice; most of us do it naturally when talking to a friend about an activity or experience and the friend (or someone who’s interested) asks questions that gets us to think and see into the experience more than we might if left with the wisp floating in our heads.
Reflective practice in writing is a bit harder – using words to convey an idea can restrict us. Often I get too critical of what I’m writing, go back and correct spelling mistakes, typos, rearrange thoughts, delete whole passages. It’s hard to remain quiet and let the those ooze through my fingers and into words. But quiet and a dreamlike state is the trick.
Being quiet is much less exciting than being noisy. The process of reflection doesn’t look like a fizzy drink ad – all bubbly, fun and frantic. Reflection is a profound art.
Which made me interested in exploring the word profound …
from the Oxford English Dictionary online:
I. Of non-physical depth.
a. Of a person: characterized by intellectual depth; having great insight into or knowledge of something; very learned. Formerly also: †crafty, cunning (obs.).
b. Of personal attributes, actions, works, etc.: showing depth of insight or knowledge; marked by great learning.
a. Of a field of knowledge, intellectual topic, etc.: demanding deep study, research, or consideration; containing great depths of meaning and import; (of meaning or significance) deep, important.
b. Of a state, quality, or emotion: having great depth or intensity; intense, extreme, thorough.
c. Of reverence, respect, etc.: sincere; humble.
d. Of sleep, silence, etc.: in which a person is or may be deeply immersed; unbroken, complete.
II. Of physical depth.
a. That has great downward or inward extent; very deep.
b. Of a sigh, sob, etc.: originating in or coming from a great depth; made with a deep breath (chiefly with the implication of deeply-felt emotion
c. Situated far beneath a surface (esp. that of the body); deep-seated; deeply-buried.
d. Of a bow, etc.: sinking to a great depth; very low (chiefly with the implication of deep respect.
1. The deepest or innermost part of something; a very deep place; an abyss; specifically the depths of the sea. (Chiefly poetic)
2. Intellectual depth
Wow, that describes not only the outcome we’re looking for but also the process of deep thinking that we must go through to reflect. Which should n’t put you off. Set your fizzy drink aside, sit and ponder for, say 10 minutes. Just think. Like free writing but leave out the writing. You’ll probably find your mind races at first, we’re trained for this. But after doing this several times you may find your spot.
A writer told me last year that he has a spot he looks at when his “muse” is active. His is off to the side; mine, I’ve found, is slightly above where my words are settling. Which can make a mess, but it’s easily, and enjoyably, cleaned up after. (I’m looking in the sky right now. Hmmm.)