A simple practice for daily reflection – Parkview Health

A simple practice for daily reflection – Parkview Health

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This post was written by Brian Spahr, chaplain, Parkview Health.
How can we possibly expect anyone to find real nurture, comfort and consolation from a prayer life that taxes the mind beyond its limits and adds one more exhausting activity to the many already scheduled ones? – Henri Nouwen
Caring for our spiritual health can be difficult. Some of us treat faith practices and spiritual disciplines like physical exercise. We take a posture of, “No pain, no gain!” We grit our teeth and tough it out because we know it is something we should do. But sometimes it feels like this just leads to burnout. Our spiritual practices end up just being one more thing to add to our already full plates. What if it could be different? What if our practice of prayer could actually lighten our load, rather than adding to it?
In Matthew 11:28 Jesus says,“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.”
But what might a restful spiritual practice look like? Here’s one practice that I’ve found that is both restful and helpful.
The Daily Examen is a method of prayerful reflection that was developed by St. Ignatius of Loyola over 400 years ago, and people of different faith traditions have been practicing versions of it ever since. It is typically done at the end of the day as a way of noticing and reflecting on God’s presence with you in the events of the day. It also helps prepare by looking forward in hope to another day in God’s presence tomorrow.
It’s a simple practice that anyone can do. Just set aside 5-15 minutes to be still and quiet. For some people, it also helps to journal their reflections. That’s what I do. Whatever you choose, just keep it simple. Remember, this isn’t meant to be a burden.
Here is an adapted version of the five-step Daily Examen that St. Ignatius practiced:
As I practice the Examen, I find a growing awareness of God’s presence with me, even on tough days. I’m reminded that even on my hardest days, God remains with me and God remains good! The Examen serves as a reminder of the communion I have with God. It feels like a way to embrace the invitation Jesus makes in that same passage from Matthew 11.
Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. — Matthew 11:29-30 (MSG)

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