About a year ago, I started practicing the Examen.... loosely.
This is an Ignatian practice, that is normally done at the end of the day. It invites an opportunity to look back over the day that just was and to breathe. To look for where God was in the day, give thanks, maybe notice where you could have done better and to offer it all up to God and then, set an intention for the next day.
Things in my life felt very hard. We had a lot going on in our family, we were at the beginning of his mysterious disease, I was trying to learn a new way of pastoring from a distance and not feeling very successful at it.
I needed a way to re--frame my days. I needed an opportunity to find gratitude and I needed to let go of what I could not control.
My go-to when I'm really anxious is to give up sleep, and I really needed for that not to happen. I am not one of those people who can function with little to no sleep.
So, I started listening to a podcast by Fr. James Martin called: The Examen.
And it really helped. I was able to re-frame my day, even the really hard days (most of the time). I was able to find God somewhere.
And most importantly, over time I was able to begin each day with a better mind-set. I even started looking for things to be grateful for throughout the day (not my natural go-to)
These days, I am not as consistent with my practice as I was a year ago, though I still do it. And I still have Fr. Martin on my list of podcasts.
But it has changed something in my brain so that I am still looking for where God shows up for me each day and in every interaction, I am looking for something to be grateful for - even the hard ones.
I'm really trying to lead with kindness and seek gratitude at the end of each day.
It's not easy and it's not my natural default.
But as these days wear on, as we are asked to continue to hold the line on restrictions to help keep each other safe and as we long for things to be 'normal', I think maybe a practice of gratitude is important for me.
What are you doing to help take care of yourself? How are you tending to anxiety or frustration?
Have you picked up a particular practice that has been helpful?
Maybe you turn your computer off at a certain time each day. Or maybe you have decided to stop watching the news. Both of those things sound like they could be good self-care practices to me.
But I would love to hear how you are.