Background: St. Ignatius is closely tied to the Catholic Tradition. His work still guides many spiritual retreats.
One of his practices is an exploration of those things which bring us closer to God– consolations, and those things which bring us further from God– desolations.
It should be noted that The Examen might be written or practiced by thinking and saying the words.
Find your center by placing your feet flat on the floor.
Breathe and relax, as best you can.
When you are ready, bring the last 24 hours to your mind. Continue to breathe slowly, in through the nose and out through the mouth. Begin by reliving where you were 24 hours ago. Gradually, bring yourself through the last day of your life. Do your best to deeply engage your senses as you relive this day; feel the events on your skin, hear them, taste them, even recall the smells.
Consider your desolations:
What are you least thankful for?
Where can’t you see God?
What seems to be moving you away from God?
Release your desolations by breathing slowly and calmly.
Consider your consolations.
What are you most thankful for?
Where can you see God?
What seems to be moving you toward God?
Release your consolations by breathing slowly and carefully.
As you consider the last 24 hours in their fullness, are there any things you would like to consider: was God, perhaps moving in things you initially labelled ‘desolations?’ Is it possible that God was not present in things you initially labelled ‘Consolations’?
Release the word-based part of the practice. Enjoy a moment with God.
Background: This practice might be particularly useful for those of us who use writing as a way to process our thoughts and feelings.
1) Gather the items you will need to write.
2) As best you can, release your worries and concerns.
3) Take a few deep, cleansing breaths. You might even consider using, briefly, one of the other exercises to come to a place of peace.
4) Talk to God. Express the things that are on your heart.
5) Listen. Is God saying anything in response?
6) Write an account of this experience. Begin, as best as you can remember, with the things you said to God. Then write the things that God might have said to you in response. Express how sure you are? Is it just a vague suspicion that God responded? A deep conviction? Somewhere between?
7) When you are done with this account of what happened, write about the things you are thinking now. How do you feel about the things God said to you? How do you feel about the things you said to God?
Background: The most important thing, here, is to keep writing.
The act of writing calls on a very different part of the brain than the act of editing. Write, write, write! This is not the time for editing.
1) Gather whatever materials you will need.
2) Consider the following list. Choose one or two prompts to return to each time you feel that you might run out of things to write: God, you…. / God I…./ I am…/ I was…./ I will…./ I believe…. / I fear…./ I know…
Let these words be a sort-of refrain that you return to.
3) Set a timer for a duration; about as long as you feel like you can write. Renew your comitment to write, and to continue to write during this time.
4) Take a deep cleansing breath.
5) Begin. Do not stop until your timer beeps.
6) Read your work. Consider what it means.
7) Take another deep and cleansing breath.
8) Spend some time with God. Thank God for showing up in your work today.
So much of our suffering arises from the disconnect between how we recall the events of our lives and how they actually occurred. St. Ignatius of Loyola gave us a solution to this dilemma over 500 years ago. The spiritual exercise known as The Examen presents us with an opportunity to invite God into our recollections and seek out his presence in the details of our lives.Examining the Examen presents simple, step-by-step explanations of how to approach this transformative practice and encourages a playful, experimental approach to integrating this into our lives. Whether we review the last few hours or several decades of our lives, The Examen breeds a sense of peace, gratitude, and union with God. Let your journey begin. You can purchase the book here.
The goal of The Faith-ing Project is to enrich your spiritual life. Our hope is that this might be a gymnasium for the soul; a library for the spirit; and a toy store for the psyche.
If you’re interested in books more focused on spiritual practice without the exploration of deconstruction, take a look at the faith-ing project guides. Samples of some of the Faith-ing Project guides can be found here. If you would like to go straight to ordering the books at amazon, click here.
I am eagerly awaiting the premiere of the ‘Be Still’ app. In the meantime, I was quite impressed by their how-to page.
Work has been temporarily suspended on the upcoming Faith-ing Project Guide on spiritual practices specific to the nine Enneagram types. Samples of spiritual practices assigned to each of the nine types can be foundhere.
If you do not find what you are looking for here, click this link. Many of our resources, including audio files, strategies for bringing the practices home, contemplations built around the work of famous authors, and contemporary traditions can be found there.