Interfaith Examen in the time of COVID-19
The Examen is a prayer from the Ignatian Spiritual Tradition in the Catholic faith. This version has been adapted by the Interfaith Core Team.
Begin by finding or creating a place that is comfortable for prayer and reflection. Somewhere that feels non-judgemental, a place of peace. Take on a comfortable posture, one that allows you to find rest and remain focused. This posture should meet your physical needs so you can focus on your mind and spirit. Once settled into this position, notice your breathing. We often breathe shallowly - with our inhales and exhales stopping just above our chest. Begin to deepen your breathing, inhaling and exhaling from your stomach.
Now, bring your presence to your surroundings, using the sounds and smells to embody your spirit - to remember that your spirit and mind live within your physical body present here. Return to the deep breaths and greet The Sacred (God, spirits, deities, ancestors, yourself) - the Holy, Divine - into the space with whatever language is comfortable and familiar to you. Feel yourself open up to grace and allow it to flow through you.
You may want to consider inviting those you care about, near or far, to pray with you, in solidarity. If so, you are encouraged to share your reflections with those who prayed with you.
Using our breath as a grounding point, we take a moment to settle into a posture of gratitude, of being grateful for what will come up in this reflection. Begin reflecting on the day - reviewing the moments of the day from when you awoke this morning to this prayer now. Let your mind focus on all those things that we may not notice, but are indicative of the presence of the Sacred. Notice those moments of peace and joy - the sun breaking through the clouds, a moment of quiet, a song that sparks emotion. Offer gratitude for these moments.
In these troubling times, it is also important to notice what has been taken from us. What are we struggling to come to terms with? Allow yourself to feel that loss. If there is a particular negative experience in your day, is there something you can do to change the situation or your perspective? Focus on the change that you can control.
As you look back on your day, reflect on the emotions you have felt - the good and the bad. Notice the emotions that come and go, and those that linger. Do you feel different now than you did at the beginning of the day? What was that journey like? Allow yourself to feel any frustrations you may have encountered. Soak in, again, the emotions that bring about hope and light.
Notice a particular moment of the day. It may be a time when you felt any type of short-coming or a time when you felt most yourself. Allow yourself to feel empathy towards you and your circumstances. In this reflection, place yourself back in the situation, consider where there is an opportunity for growth, celebration, or peace.
If you pray this prayer regularly, try to recognize recurring themes throughout your hours, days, and weeks. Why might these themes be recurring? What can you learn from this awareness? By doing so, you may experience spiritual liberation. Move forward to the next day with the Sacred’s intention for you in mind.
Tomorrow is a new day painted by the Sacred (God, spirits, deities, ancestors). Prepare your heart and mind to receive it openly. What knowledge did you acquire from this day that can help you live more in peace tomorrow? It may help to come up with a small goal for the next day. This can include something that brought you joy and you wish to continue, or it can be something to improve on to build better habits. Continue to go forth on your journey with and for others.