Reflection is the basis for understanding. I can be engaged in an experience but understanding it depends upon the mirror-effects of knowing the experience, knowing that I know it, knowing its impact on me and knowing its impact on the context. Past experiences of a similar nature and expectations of what may arise in the future are integrated into the present experience without dominating it. There is space for all this to occur simultaneously, not in thinking but in sensing and feeling.
I have different avenues of experience. There is attention, the activating instantaneous non-mediated bridge that connects me to my experience. There is awareness, the passive scanning of myself and my environment. And there is consciousness, the integration of the different facets of my experience through the medium of reflection. Consciousness is required for understanding. Reflection is required for consciousness.
Reflection is active but not assertive. It discerns but does not discriminate. It allows things that may be opposed to exist side-by-side for consideration. Reflection finds and traces the latticework of impressions that have shaped who I am.
Where there is reaction, there is less reflection. The alchemist uses reaction to fuel reflection.
Where reflection is lacking, the door of communication, the passageway to shared understanding, is closed. When I am not reflective, I may be quick to find answers and facile in explaining them but I do not learn easily and I typically do not ask questions. Reflective people ask questions and weigh their words. What they seek is not conceptual. They seek understanding. They reflect on the past and make it present, thus gaining access to their own lifetime.