Dr. Jessica Motherwell, Ph.D.

Come home to the REAL you.

Gratitude Day 6 – Thinking backwards, upside down …

“Silly Sally went to town walking backwards, upside down.” by Audrey Wood

Today I am sharing a meditation technique: thinking backwards. Some years ago, when my child was young and I was considering a Waldorf education for her, I read Rudolf Steiner’s theory about the cognitive and spiritual benefits of thinking backwards — that is, reviewing your day in reverse chronological order. His idea was that by taking 5 minutes before you go to sleep to bring to your mind what just happened in your day, and then what happened just before that, and before that, until you had recollected your whole day, you could grow your intellectual skills and develop your inner “reviewer” — the part of you who thinks about you, your experiences, and your growth.

Steiner went on to say that a person who was NOT ready for the mentally taxing exercise of thinking backwards would simply fall asleep. Since sleep for a new mother like I was is the ultimate Holy Grail of Motherhood, I adopted thinking backwards as a nightly practice hoping I would fall asleep — but settling for a strengthened cognitive and spiritual capacity as a plan B if sleep was evasive. Thinking backwards has since become an indispensible tool for me — by day in the workplace when puzzling out a problem and by night when bringing about a peaceful conclusion to my day.

Now I will “flash forward” you to this week when — all good attentions aside and even though I mentally made my gratitude lists, I did not actually write down my lists until Day 4 of the challenge. Rather than judge myself harshly or give up on the challenge, I used my desire to catch up in my journal as an opportunity to think backwards and to remember each day’s gratitude in reverse chronological order. And I learned that thinking backwards through four days of Life that I am grateful for was a meaningful and spirit-elevating activity.

Here is my challenge for you today, if you need to bring more fun and light-heartedness into your practice – whether a Gratitude practice or something else — try taking a page out of Silly Sally’s book and do it “backwards, upside down”and then  see how much more you have learned about yourself. What will my challenge be? Tonight at bedtime, when I do my reverse review of the day, I am going to try thinking backwards, UPSIDE DOWN. Anyone care to join me in a yogic-shoulder-stand-thinking-backwards session?

Silly Sally (Red Wagon Books), by Audrey Wood. HMH Books (March 1, 1999) ISBN-10: 0152019901

Strengthening the Will: The “Review Exercises. Selected lectures by Rudolf Steiner. Compiled by Martina Maria Sam, Translated by Matthew Barton. ISBN: 9781855842380 Book (Paperback)Rudolf Steiner Press


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