Image Credit: Holistic Hippy
Last week at CCNY, I presented on the topic of spirituality in college counseling. As part of the presentation, I reviewed a modified examen, a spiritual practice adapted for daily use by anyone. The audience seemed to enjoy this reflective practice and gave great feedback. So, I wanted to share it with you as examen is not only a simple, reflective spiritual practice that can enhance your well-being and help you to build resilience, but it can also be used to ignite creativity.
For those unfamiliar with examen, it is a Jesuit, spiritual practice that is focused on reflecting on one’s experiences and actions. It is a method for taking stock of experiences we’re grateful for, as well as ones we regret or wish to learn from. I taught this practice by a Jesuit at Le Moyne College and have incorporated it into my Mastering Stress Management group with much success.
Below is a modified examen, in that religious content has been removed in order to make it a practice applicable to anyone in five easy steps. Typically, examen is not intended to take more than 15 minutes; however, you can do this practice for as little or long as you feel comfortable and engaged. You can perform examen at the end of your day as way to reflect or before beginning a creative practice (e.g., art journaling, mask making, etc.) as a way to mediate on your day, life, and overall well-being. Examen has the power to ignite creative juices in your wellness practice.
Take a comfortable, yet alert position. Become present to yourself, perhaps closing your eyes, paying attention to your breath. Become aware of your life at this moment.
Begin to review your day, from the time you woke up until now. Pause to savor with appreciation and gratitude all the moments for which you are thankful for today.
Bring your intention to exploring moments that you may regret or may have left you feeling sad, angry, impatient, etc. Bring your willingness to learn from these moments and to grow in self-awareness.
With patience, review these moments and draw insight from them.
Looking toward tomorrow, make practical resolutions to how you might proceed differently. Express thanks for your chance to gain insight, wisdom, and grace from this experience.