I had a conversation with a friend recently who told me about the Jesuit’s daily Examen. It is, in essence, a spiritual exercise that asks the participant to review the day’s activities and observe the presence of God. As someone who doesn’t believe in God, I don’t have trouble in seeing how we can extend this to an exercise in self-awaress.
I was reminded of this activity in episode 15 of the Lifelines podcast. Martin Wroe and Malcolm Doney, the authors of the book on which the podcast is based, have done a great job in reframing the five steps of the Examen for a more secular audience. Those steps are:
- Give thanks
- Capture signs of hope or joy
- Notice sadness and regret
- Recognise both the downs and the ups
- Consider tomorrow
There are definitely some aspects that I already cover in my daily preview/review. Every morning I spend 5-10 minutes writing about what lies ahead. In the evening I do the same, looking back on the day’s events. In this end of day review the questions I ask include:
- What’s the best/most exciting things to happen today?
- What did you learn?
- What would you do differently?
- Is there anything I can do to prepare for tomorrow?
I find this process invaluable to how aware I am of what’s going on in my daily life. What’s making me happy, what’s a source of frustration etc. And over time I can see how patterns emerge. With revisiting the Examen, I’m keen to further adapt and refine the prompts I’m using for this exercise.
Do you already capture elements of the five steps in other ways too, eg a gratitude journal?
- If the answer is yes, how might you build on, or adapt, your reflective routine to include some other elements from the five steps?
- If the answer is no, how might creating time for this kind of daily reflection help you?
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