Sometimes, at night, my mind works like a broken record. After getting into bed it gets stuck on some small, almost inconsequential, thing that happened during the day - some small thing that, even in my sleep, invades my dreams and continues to haunt me in the morning.
But I think I’ve found a cure for that. It’s called the Daily Examen, a spiritual exercise promoted, practiced and shared by St Ignatius of Loyola. My copy of this exercise, which I found and sent away for online, is printed on a card no bigger than two by four inches. Now, every night before I go to sleep, I pick it up and read the questions printed on it.
Some of the questions, like the ones asking what has troubled me or what has challenged me, are easy to answer.
My favorite question is the one which asks where I have felt joy because, even on my worst days, I have found I can look back and discover the joy I felt while listening to the words of a song, or while taking a walk through the park.
The most difficult question for me is the one which asks where and when did I pause because I’ve usually gone through an entire day never remembering to pause and never remembering to look for God’s presence during my day, which may be why St. Ignatius practiced this exercise at noon as well as at night.
The last question, which I read just before falling asleep asks me to determine with what spirit I want to enter tomorrow.
St Ignatius practiced this daily examination because he believed it was a gift that came directly from God and, after doing it for little more than one week, I do too.