Sunday, September 26, 2010

Day 26 Challenge - Meditation

Do you spend quiet time regularly to practice meditation? In the beginning of 2010, I have set meditation / reflection / contemplation as one of my goals to improve my spiritual life. I have to say that although I do write on my journal now and then, I have not been disciplined in following a regular schedule.

Today as I visited a community that had just started 40 days prayer & fasting, I was reminded of the importance of meditation. Therefore, I set myself on day 26 of September the challenge to practice meditation in my daily routine, trusting that it will bring me increased clarity of my purpose in life.

I am going to use one of the methods that I learned a few years ago, which is an ancient practice - it's called Examen of Consciousness (sometimes just called Examen), and it was developed by St. Ignatious Loyola. The Daily Examen is a technique of reflection on the events of the day in order to discern our life's direction and see God's hand at work in our whole experience.
The Examen has 5 main steps:

1. Recall you are in the Presence of God
We are always in God's presence, but in prayer we place ourselves in God's presence in an especially attentive way. God knows you intimately. He loves you in the deepest way possible and desires for an intimate connection with you. As you still yourself be aware that God is present with you, in creation of your surrounds, your body, in those around you. Remind yourself of his presence ñ be still and know that you are with God.

Take a few minutes just to quiet yourself and turn your attention to God.

2. Look at your day with Gratitude
After a few moments, begin to give thanks to God for the gifts of today. Special pleasures will spring to mind: a good nightís sleep, the smell of the morning coffee, the laugh of a child, a good meal or lesson learned. As you move in gratitude through the details of your day give thanks for the big and the small things of your life.

3. Ask for help from God as you Review Your Day
Before the next step (reviewing your day), ask that God might help you to look at your actions and attitudes. Ask God to help you to understand the motivation of your heart, to see the gifts of God and how you've responded to them. Ask that you'd learn and be shaped as your reflect. Remember, this is not a time to dwell on your shortcomings rather, it is a gentle look at the day that youíve just had. It is an opportunity for growth of self and relationship with God.

Really this step is one of preparation to think about your day, getting your mind in a good attitude and giving God an opportunity to use the next few minutes.

4. Review Your Day
This is the longest of the steps. Here you review your entire day, watching it like a movie that replays in your mind. Be sure to notice the details, the context of what happened and how you acted. As you look through the day, notice especially your motives and feelings.

This is not psychoanalysis, rather it is a time for you to discern your daily motives, actions and reactions. Donít try to fix everything in this stage ñ just replay your day in your mind.

As you review you may wish to ask yourself some of the following questions.

When did I fail today? (why?) 
When did I give love today? 
Where did I receive love today? 
What Habits and life patterns do I notice in my day? 
In what ways did I notice God in my day? 
When did I feel most alive? Most drained of life? 
When did I have the greatest sense of belonging? Least sense of belonging? 
When was I most free? Least free? 
When was I most creative? Least creative? 
When did I feel most fully myself? Least myself? 
When did I feel most whole? Most fragmented? 
As you review your day allow your thoughts to wander through the situations youíve been in and allow God to speak, challenge, encourage and teach you.

Note: as you do this over a number of days, weeks and longer you begin to see patterns in your days. You might notice that you feel stress at the same time each day or that your relationship with a particular person or an activity is leading your to negative ways of thinking or that you seem to be at your best at certain times. Itís amazing what putting just a few minutes aside to reflect upon how you live your life can reveal to you.

5. Reconcile and Resolve
The final step is our heart-to-heart talk with God.

Here you talk with God about your day. You share your thoughts on your actions, attitudes, feelings and interactions. Perhaps in this time you may feel led to seek forgiveness, ask for direction, share a concern, express gratitude, make a decision to make some kind of change in the way you live etc. There may be an area youíve felt challenged on or some action you feel you need to take out of this time. Resolve with God to move forward in action where appropriate.

You might like to finish your time with the Lords Prayer or some other prayer or ritual that is appropriate.

I hope something in this is helpful to you too. I'd love to hear the meditative exercises that you use too.


Evan said...

I do find a daily routine can be helpful. Though I have found that usually I can't stick to it absolutely. I tend to work on stuff as it comes up - more project based or something.

Though I know others prefer the daily schedule.

Kitty said...

I don't what you mean. I have found having a routine really helpful, although projects and things do come up that can interrupt that daily schedule. What I tend to do then is not let that stop me from keeping going, even if I miss a day or two.

Kitty said...

Sorry typo above - i meant to say "I KNOW what you mean"....It's been a month since my 30 day challenge, and I still find that sticking to a daily routine is still a challenge (as I tend to be multi-tasking)!

Anonymous said...

Kitty, I like this post. I have learned to have quiet time everyday to read my bible and pray. The Examen seems a good idea too. I might try that.

Simon L