The most spiritual moment of your life is the moment you are currently in. This can be extremely difficult for us to see. We live in a world that is addicted to distraction. We wake up with the constant pressure of checking emails, posting and responding to people on social media. We have become so accustom to being pulled away from the present moment. We are living for everything but absent from the NOW!
In order to improve our conscience contact with God we must start embracing the sacrament of the present moment. In order to do this we have to slow down and become aware of the presence of God that is already with us. This can be difficult because most of us have been taught that God is out there somewhere rather than inside of us. So many of us have an external God complex and a someday God will disorder.
This is where contemplative spirituality can help. Thomas Merton speaking of the contemplative spirituality said this " They abandon themselves to the will of God and keep in touch with the realities of the present moment; That is to say, the inner experience and spiritual realities, not the surface emotions and excitements which in reality are nothing but an illusion. They swim the living stream of life, remaining in contact with God in the hiddenness and ordinariness of the present moment and the tasks it brings. In this way ordinary activities - such as walking down the street, sweeping a floor, taking a stroll in the woods, can be enriched with a contemplative sense of the presence of God."
It takes time and practice to see God in the ordinary. Our lives are oriented to everything except practicing the sacrament of the present. This is especially true as it relates to the humdrum of life. This is where spiritual exercises are very beneficial. Prayer and meditation increases our awareness to Gods presence. It calls us away from the noise and distraction to a contemplation of Gods real presence in our lives. This is what Merton called experiencing "God in the hiddenness and ordinariness of the present moment."
This is where a daily spiritual exercise and can help!
I have listed a spiritual exercise below designed to open your eyes to Gods presence in your daily life. Its called the "Examen" it was originally designed by St Ignatius. (I modified it for modern use) It has five simple steps that when practiced daily help you become aware of Gods presence.
The Examen daily practice,
1. Prayer of Preparation
Start your time by becoming aware that you are already in the presence of God. You may use words or allow your self to pray without words. It is usually best if you introduce a "Sacred" word that helps you re-center on Jesus when your mind drifts. (Peace, Grace, Forgiveness) This is not a time for perfection! If you find yourself drifting don't condemn yourself. I found that 15-20 minutes are best to allow yourself to relax and become aware of Gods presence.
2. Gratitude - Prayer of thanksgiving
Allow yourself to become grateful for Gods gifts and blessings that you experienced through the day. Beginning with the answer, re-centers us to Gods perspective. A heart full of gratitude is a heart that is wide open to seeing God. Keep it simple! I usually start with three to five things to be thankful for.
3. Examine your consciousness
What have you been most mindful of today? Allowing yourself to take an inventory of your thoughts helps you see patterns that you are unaware of. It helps you to be conscious of what we are thinking rather than just allowing our minds to drift, we learn to "Set" our minds. (Ref Colossians 3). The more we practice this the more we are aware of our consciousness and are active in reseting to Jesus. We will find that we are more and more aware of God during our day.
4. Choose one thing to be aware of in God and prayer from it
Contemplative prayer is not about getting somewhere or getting something. It is living from what we already have and where we already are. This allows us to let go of striving and embrace peace.
5. Look to tomorrow in Hope
What did I learn today that I can bring into tomorrow? When we are fully present in the moment we can look to tomorrow without missing out on today.
I hope this helps you. If so, please let me know by commenting and or writing me. The schedule for posting is as follows. Monday posts in conversations are going to be on spiritual practices and direction. Fridays are going to be reformative thoughts on Gods character and nature.