The Power of the Pencil
Every book I have read on how to deepen one's spiritual walk and draw closer to God talks about the importance of awareness. Which is wonderful except I find this a challenge since most of the time I don't know how much I sleep walk through life. How can I become aware of something I'm not sure I really notice.
Add to this the challenge to stay awake or aware of what is going on when my thoughts and the circumstances of life seem to sweep me away so easily. How does one learn how to become more aware of Life and God?
Many great teachers whether from the 4th century or the 21st give the same advice: write down what you notice during the day. Whether that is a formal Examen (see below) or just getting a little notebook and writing out your thoughts at different times during the day. There have been those who say if you write down an intention then you are 30% more likely to live into that intention. For example say one day the intention is to really listen to another. Write it down and then either throughout the day or at the end of the day write down when that intention to listen actually happened and when it didn't. No judgement just notice. Then with the presence of Divine Love look at what you notice about what happened in the day. What is the gift? What is the learning? That's it! After 3 weeks of doing this there will be a difference in awareness around that intention.
So let's sharpen our pencils and begin to wake up!!
Feel free to write what you notice after trying this practice.
Here is the way to do a traditional Examen
Prayer of Examen
Choose a period of time to examine in prayer.
This can be a day, a week, or a specific event.
Allow your mind to wander through that period of time. Some questions you might ask yourself about that period include:
What am I most/least grateful for during that time?
When did I feel a sense of love, peace, joy, life (the gifts of the Spirit)?
When did I feel exhausted, dead, drained, angry, mean?
What specific events, thoughts or experiences draw my attention?
What aspects of that time repel me?
What moments from that time speak to me of my deepest desires?
What things feel out of place, uninteresting?
Ask yourself: “When did I notice God during this time” What felt like a time of God’s absence?
As some answers to these questions arise, notice what this tells you about the future. How is it that God is calling you into being? Toward what actions, activities, or attributes is God drawing you?
Repeat this prayer at regular intervals in order to see how God is working in your life.