March 17 by The Running Son
Steps in Making the Ignatian Examen
by Ken Ireland
Visit Ken’s blog at: http://jesuskoan.blogspot.com
In response to the request of a woman who visits me for conversations about meditation, I made some simple edits to Ignatius’s instructions for the Particular Examen, a exercise that he recommends, to begin, three times a day while doing spiritual exercises, and then for the rest of life! I just removed any reference to a deity, or to any external guidance. In some places I have left the words “faith,” “love,” “grace,” “presence,” “guidance,” and “goodness,” not as absolutes but rather focus points for an inner exploration. Look for faith and presence in our own lived experience, for example, instead of returning to old sermons about how we should behave and what we must do to be good. I also presume that the practitioner has some direction and is examining him or herself for what Ignatius might call our “chief characteristic,” our greatest obstacle to living in freedom and love.
If you want to undertake this exercise, Ignatius recommends three distinct periods a day, upon rising, before the mid-day meal, and upon retiring. In the morning, as your day is not yet filled with conscious and unconscious actions, you set your mind aright to reflect, remembering what you are going to look for if you have identified a ‘chief characteristic.’
1. We begin by quieting ourselves. Become aware the simple goodness of the universe, the gifts of life and love. Be thankful. Recall that without faith, the eye of love, the human world seems too evil for good to exist.
2. Look deep within to see clearly, to understand accurately, and to respond generously to what is occurring in our daily history.
3. Review in memory the history of the day (week, month, etc.) in order to be shown concrete instances of our ‘chief characteristic,’ as well as instances of presence and guidance and, perhaps, of the activity and influence of the chief characteristic. These can be detected by paying attention to strong feelings we experienced that may have accompanied or arisen from situations and encounters.
4. Evaluate these instances in which we have either collaborated with deep inner guidance or yielded to the influence of evil in some way. Express gratitude and regret.
5. Plan and decide how to collaborate more effectively with your own inner guidance and how to avoid or overcome the negative influence of the chief characteristic in the future.
I would like to hear from you if you want to share anything you have discovered using the examen. http://jesuskoan.blogspot.com