Examen of Consciousness
This “examen of consciousness” is a spiritual practice that involves discerning the spontaneous movements of Spirit and the counter-movements of ego protection as these occur in daily life. The examen is usually done in the evening for 10 to 15 minutes and consists of a few simple steps, that are noted below:
Step 1: “Be still & know that I am God …” (Psalm 46) —
Take a few moments to relax; initially focus on your breathing with intention for slower, deeper, fuller breaths. Then, let go of monitoring your breath and focus your attention on the presence of God.
Step 2: “Bless God, my soul; do not forget all the gifts of God …” (Psalm 103) —
Spend some time remembering with gratitude a few of the specific gifts of this day – a meeting with a friend, a moment of insight, a glimpse of natural beauty, a considerate drive, some demonstration of compassion and service in the workplace …. Savor the memory and offer thanks.
Step 3: “Send out your light & truth, let these be my guide …” (Psalms 42-43) —
Ask to receive the light of Spirit, so you can discern God’s movement in you and around you today … and your response to such divine movement.
Step 4: “Search me, God, know my heart …” (Psalm 139) —
Reflect contemplatively on what has been happening to you and in you today; trust that Spirit will reveal what needs to come to light. The following questions are only suggestions for consideration in this moment. Stay with the question or couple of questions that speak to you:
1. How were you drawn to God today?
2. Did you meet God in fears, joys, work, play, misunderstandings, weariness, pain?
3. Did God’s truth come alive in prayer, Scripture, liturgy, or creation?
4. Did you bring God to those around you? Did they bring God to you?
5. Did you sense God in the wider world, perhaps in what you saw on t.v., or read in a newspaper?
Bring God your feelings about what you saw or read – your anger, your compassion, …
6. Did you feel the absence or silence of God in any part of your day? Why do you think that was?
7. What made you feel peaceful today? Where did you experience unease or turmoil? As you
offer hospitality to these feelings what seems to be behind them?
8. Did you feel moments when you were diminished in defensiveness or fear?
Bring these responses honestly before God for light and healing.
9. Did you feel God calling or inviting you in any particular way today? How did you respond?
10. Out of all your day’s experience, is there one special incident or discovery for which you
would like to thank God?
Step 5: “Have mercy on me, God, in your goodness …” (Psalm 51) —
With hindsight you may realize that some of your reactions to events of this day came out of a tendency to protect the ego rather than out of love of God and intimacy with Spirit. Let these insights be there before God, not for judgment, but for God’s Spirit to bring wholeness out of brokenness. If you are able, express your authentic sorrow; trust in God’s eternal healing mercy.
Step 6: “When I awake, let me be filled with your presence …” (Psalm 17) —
Look forward in hope to tomorrow. Pray for the sensitivity to recognize God in whatever way God may choose to come to you tomorrow.
Complete the day’s examen by repeating Step One, noted above.