The school year has begun. I am busy again, with my part-time library schedule and my spiritual work. Yesterday, I found myself feeling edgy after a long day. In the evening, I engaged in the Ignatian practice known as the Daily Examen, which is a prayer practice of reviewing our day with the Spirit.
I’ve adapted this version of the Examen from, Mark. E. Thibodeaux, SJ, author of Reimagining the Ignatian Examen. Here he describes the process in detail.
Ignatius provides a simple five-step routine for our daily Examen:
1. Give thanksgiving.
Begin by giving God thanks for all the things you are grateful for today. . . Allow big things and small things to arise.
2. Ask for the Spirit.
Next, look at the moments in the day when you did not act so well, or felt disturbed, or uncomfortable. Let the Spirit lead you through this difficult soul-searching.
3. Review and recognize your shortcomings and disappointments.
Look back at the day and ask God to reveal to you the moments when you weren’t at your best in big ways or small.
4. Ask for healing.
Ask for healing, for yourself and others, and to move on. Ask for the wisdom to understand yourself and your emotions, and what is disturbing you. See if you need to make any decisions or adjustments in your life or lifestyle.
5. Pray about the next day.
Ask for the help with any moments you foresee that might be difficult tomorrow.
So, as I went through my Daily Examen yesterday, I realized that I had choices over how “full” I could make my schedule, and even if I was busy, I didn’t have to engage in the “I’m so busy” attitude and conversation that everyone around me seemed to be always having.
I can choose to stay grounded, to be present in my life, and to set aside quiet time every day. After my prayer time, I looked at my calendar and I decided to say no to a few engagements. At first, I could feel the fear rise up in my, but then I realized that there is such a thing as the spirituality of permission. I could give myself permission not to be so busy, and trust that God’s grace was with me.
I anticipate this will to be an ongoing discernment for me this year. I support you in your decision to give yourself time and space to reflect upon your relationship to being busy, and your desire to get to know yourself underneath all the busyness.
P.S. I really like the app that has been developed by Loyola Press for “Reimagining the Examen.” It makes this practice easy to integrate into our schedules, and something we can do anywhere, anytime.