Spiritual Practice: The Examen
As you may know my newest book, The Retreat: A Tale of Spiritual Awakening, will be out in March through Harper Legend (pssst, you can actually pre-order it here on Amazon).
In anticipation of that, I invite you to join me on a journey of spiritual awakening as we try different spiritual practices together. Every two weeks, I will blog about a different spiritual practice, and we can try it together and discuss how it is or isn’t working for you! Ready, set, GO!
I thought it best to start with a spiritual discipline which is an easy on-ramp. This is one of my favorites. It’s best to use it at the end of the day, but you can really use it any time. I’ve even tried it early in the morning and it still works! It’s a way to reflect on the day, rejoice and mourn over the day – and move on from it.
There are different ways to practice the Examen, and if you google it, you’ll find many examples. Some have five steps, but I need easy access to spiritual practices so I go for only two.
First, look back over your day for a place where you saw God, or Good or your True Self. Chris Heuertz, of the Gravity Center, suggests that this is like looking in a bag for your keys; you know they are in there, you just need to find them.
Sift through different memories until you find one where you saw that Light of God, felt peace or breathed deeply. Savor that moment, rejoice over it, treasure it. This is not a time to congratulate yourself, but to enjoy the presence of God in your life.
Do you know that if you savor a good memory for thirty seconds and really try to remember all the senses associated with it: the smell, touch, taste…it will be placed into your long-term memory?
Go ahead, do it right now. Think of a small, enjoyable memory you had today, close your eyes and savor it for thirty seconds.
Many of us have ruminated on too many painful memories, cluttering up our minds with negativity. We need to consciously replace those with treasured moments. This first step will help us build a storehouse of positive memories.
Then Second, sift around for a time today that you missed God, or Good, or operated out of your False Self. Sometimes these come more easily to us, as we are self-critical. Sometimes it’s hard to choose just one. But do that, choose one and don’t beat yourself up over this memory, just hold it lightly. Perhaps you need to mourn something associated with the memory or make a mental note to apologize to someone. This memory or behavior is a part of you and the goal is to hold it in the Light and welcome it and then, let it go or give it to God so that it doesn’t weigh you down.
That is it. That is the way I use the Examen. Remember that tomorrow is a new day, and this spiritual discipline will help us begin to look for God moments throughout the day as well.
Let’s try to do this daily for the next two weeks. Let me know how it goes for you. I’ll be trying to do it with you and let you know how it goes for me.
Photo Credit: http://www.huntvalleychurch.org/spiritual-practices/