A valuable, time-tested spiritual practice that can be incorporated into your rhythm of life is the Examen. In the third episode of Tell Me A Story podcast, I introduce you to this centuries-old practice and share how it’s helping me join God in authoring my life story.
The Examen helps you do just what it says — examine each day by holding the good things and the hard things of that day and considering how they impact your life. As we hold the hard things and acknowledge their impact, we move toward embracing the good that has given us joy during the past 24 hours. This practice also helps us look at life through the lens of Kairos time — time beyond measuring and quantifying.
Sometimes, for me at least, the Examen becomes a morning practice. As I sit for a minute reflecting on the previous day before stepping into the new one, I thank God for the blessings and ask him to help me face any difficulties I may encounter.
Here are the steps of the Examen as outlined by St. Ignatius, a 16th century Spanish theologian and priest who taught the practice to the religious order he founded:
- Prepare your heart and mind. Center yourself by lighting a candle or taking a few deep breaths.
- Review the day with gratitude. Think back through the events of your day, noting the joys and delights.
- Pay attention to your emotions.
- Select a part of your day to pray over.
- Pray for tomorrow or for the day ahead.
In practicing the Examen, we’re taking a very short jog down memory lane and storing up things from our lives that help us move forward and guide us in co-authoring our story.
A very important and life-changing “why” behind examining our lives is the opportunity to heal from any past trauma. The Examen can help us do that. Even when we feel we’ve left painful experiences behind us, they may have left their mark our present and could impact our future. Examining our personal stories can initiate healing. Sharing them also may help others on a similar journey.
Ray Buckley is a Native American storyteller and the author of Dancing with Words, Storytelling as Legacy, Culture and Faith, in which he says “There is both physical and psychological healing associated with the telling of our personal stories. We seem to be able to offer and identify the positives in our stories and confront the conflicts. In the same sense, others who hear our stories and relate to our experiences cease to be “others” and are pulled into community with us. It is through the act of sharing our stories that all are made aware that ‘I am not alone’.”
Listen in as we learn another way to access the “why” behind the what in our life stories. Subscribe and rate Tell Me A Story podcast wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts so that others can find us and join the conversation.
Co-author Your Story