American adults receive 16,000 sensory images per day.
In the year 2000 – it was estimated that: a new web site was created every 2 seconds; new products every 30 minutes; and world’s knowledge doubled every 18 months…no doubt these statistics have escalated in the last 12 years.
What is the impact on our souls of living in the fast lane? The speed of technology? The volume of sound? Multiple sensory images? All of these stimuli are being taken into and impacting our subconscious - the part of us that sits under the waterline and is barely negligible yet significantly impacts our souls.
One consideration for good soul care is the ancient spiritual discipline of examen - a way to process your day and stay on top of the soul cluttering impact of 16,000 thousand sensory images.
While those who have gone before us did not have the technological influences prevalent in the 21st century they were on to something in maintaining healthy soul balance in their daily practice of examen.
Psalm 139:22-23 "Search me O God and know my heart;Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me and lead me in the way everlasting."
This practice includes pausing every evening to examine the effects of the day on your hearts, your soul, your entire being in the Presence of Christ. Some call this practice “an awareness examen”.
1. Gratitude – begin by looking over the day asking God to see where you need to be thankful and express this to the Lord; notice where you failed to be thankful
2. Insight – ask the Spirit to show you how God wants you to see and to offer to Him
3. Noticing – pay attention to
* For what moment today am I most grateful? For what moment today am I least grateful?
* When did I give and receive the most love today? When did I give and receive the least love ?
* What was the most life-giving part of my day? What was the most life-thwarting
* When today did I have the deepest sense of connection with God, others and
myself? When today did I have the least sense of connection?
* Where was I aware of living out of the fruit of the Spirit? Where was there an absence of the fruit of the Spirit?
* Where did I experience "desolation"? Where did I find "consolation"?
4. Express anything you sense God wants you to express – confess, praise,
5. Ask for guidance for tomorrow – for anything that is on your heart.
"Examen makes us aware of moments that at first we might easily pass by as insignificant, moments that ultimately can give direction for our lives” - Dennis Linn
The Lord already knows me and my thoughts, responses and feelings for any given day as the psalmist tells us in Psalm 139:1-4 “O Lord you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away. You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all of my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely.”
In examen I am inviting the Lord to help me know myself better in light of His Presence enabling my soul to de-clutter!
Barton, Ruth Haley. Sacred Rhythms. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press,2006.
Calhoun, Adele Ahlberg. Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005.