Examen of Awareness
The Examen of Awareness (or Consciousness) is one of the ways of praying that Ignatius of Loyola taught. It is meant to be practiced often and regularly (that's why its called a "practice"!) As you practice becoming aware of God's presence you become less distracted, more attuned to the Spirit of God working in and around you, you experience to choose what you truly want, and less driven and addicted to false things. I know! Those are some pretty big claims but that's what living in the presence of God is like. This kind of prayer helps you become more aware that that is where you are.
Here are the steps of the examen. I encourage you to print out these steps in a form that you can have handy with you when you pray.
- Find a quiet place and take some time to center yourselves in silence.
- Remind yourself that wherever you are you are in God's presence. Ask the Spirit of God to help you not be judgmental about yourself nor to be complacent about your life.
- Think back over the events, feelings, and thoughts of the past day or week as if you were watching a movie of all that happened. Ask yourself: What do I notice? What feelings or thoughts do I associate with the past day or week?
- Think about where you experienced God's presence during this time. Reflect upon those "God moments" in which you experienced peace, love, joy, compassion, and forgiveness in your interactions with others. Give thanks for these moments.
- Think about where it seemed you were unaware of God's presence during the past day or week. These may have been times of anger or impatience or when you ignored the needs of others. Think about where you resisted God's presence. Ask forgiveness for this shortsightedness.
- Consider where God may be calling you to a new awareness. What challenges might God be calling you to —at work, at school, in your families, and with your friends and community? Commit yourself to following the Spirit of God more closely during the next day or week.