So, now we are in December, and we are nine months into the “new normal” (a truly overused but apt saying). Usually, we would be feeling the hustle and bustle, and feeling the frantic activity leading up to the Holidays and the new year.
It seems this year some have got off the hamster wheel; some stepped off, some were pushed, but either way, there is more time for reflection. I too find that I am looking at life differently. Keeping up with the Jones’s seems less important.
Spirituality has always been important to me, but I fear I focused more on the doing rather than the being. In self-development training, there has always been a mention of Spirituality, but often it’s in an “Oooohhhhhmmm“ robe-and-guru way. Even Zig Ziglar, whom some would say is one of the fathers of the Motivation Industry, spoke about the Spiritual in his famous “wheel of life”. But it always for me, anyway, seemed as if he breezed through it.
However, with all the various restrictions nowadays, some of them changing on what seems like a daily basis – trips canceled, cars harder to buy, many restaurants closed, and many careers seeming perilous, or at least rethought – the fact that many are looking closer to the Spiritual may be no surprise!
I started thinking about various Spiritual disciplines and thought the Jesuits might have some information for me. I am not Catholic, but any group which has founded as many Universities as they have surely has to know something about discipline and higher learning! I had a book recommended to me by Janes Greengrass, a fellow coach, A Jesuit’s guide to almost anything, by Dr. James Martin.
Amazing! It was thoughtful, funny, clearly written, and very helpful. I wasn’t crazy about the vow of poverty in chapter eight, but that is a different blog post!
The concept I want to touch on here is called “The Examen”, which will make more sense when translated into English – “The Examination”; which is a nightly reflection of your day’s activities.
In the practice of being life coaches, my colleagues and I have been preaching this for years, but Dr. Martin really expanded this for me. It is not just busily prodding yourself toward your current goals, but what did you do to make the universe a better place? My Church friends would refer to this as Kingdom Work, but however you frame it, did you help someone? Do a small act of kindness for your family or a friend? Or even in the purely secular world, did you leave the world a little better or more organized than you found it?
And yes, saving money toward a worthy goal, a very productive day at work, making your community a better place, all benefit from the “The Examination”. This might seem interesting, but feel like a big ask. I recommend trying it for thirty days. It should only take 10 to 15 minutes before going to sleep and I think you will find some amazing breakthroughs in how you feel and what you can accomplish. Let me know how you made out!
Until we chat again,