Editor’s be aware: Throughout July, we’re internet hosting 31 Days with St. Ignatius, a month-long celebration of Ignatian spirituality. In addition to the calendar of Ignatian articles discovered right here, posts on dotMagis this month will discover the Ignatian Year theme, “To see all things new in Christ.”
The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius is a health program for our souls. But what’s the soul, and how will we even know now we have one? We can pinch an arm and understand now we have a physique by the feeling we really feel. We can learn one thing, make sense of what we learn, and know now we have a thoughts. But the soul? It’s so—seemingly—unspecific.
The soul is the non secular a part of who we’re. Just as train and consuming proper assist our bodily our bodies, and pondering proper helps our psychological and psychological states, non secular practices like prayer and meditation assist construct our consciousness of the soul.
All of us have ideas all through the day—ideas of deadlines, our youngsters, a dad or mum’s well being, or paying a invoice may creep into the act at hand. These simply got here into my head: I by no means realized I favored the colour yellow. Bees I get, however wasps? What goal do they serve? I’ve to clear the dryer vent. What am I going to eat for lunch?
There have been others too, however you get the image.
So, that is what I would like you to do. Listen to the voice inside your head proper now. Take a second to hear. Can you hear your ideas?
Now, take a step again out of your ideas by answering this query: Who inside you is listening to the ideas you’re having? You are, proper?
Stay with this for a second. Pay consideration to the a part of you that’s listening to your ideas. You have a thought, however that thought isn’t you. There is somebody or one thing that may observe that thought inside you.
Try this: Listen to the sound of somebody’s voice or to a music you want. Or take a look at one thing in entrance of you, perhaps a espresso cup. Just observe the music. Observe the espresso cup. Thoughts will creep into your head. That’s OK. Observe these ideas, the music, the espresso cup.
Now, take one other step again and observe the one inside you—the one following your ideas, the music, or the espresso cup. Your soul is the observer. The true you, the you that transcends your physique and thoughts, is your soul.
You usually are not your ideas. You usually are not the voice inside your head.
You are the observer observing your ideas. Not the fears you’re feeling. Not the issues you’ve got. All these change. The true you doesn’t change. Your physique will get older; you may purchase extra information; you may make more cash or lose a job, however your soul by no means modifications. You are all the time linked to one thing higher in all points of your life, thoughts, and physique, however your soul has a really particular connection to the Eternal. Problems will come and go, and once they do, remind your self that the true you is the observer who usually forgets to be an observer.
How can we domesticate this consciousness of the soul? How can we see issues anew? Through meditation. Try a few of these concepts to show you how to join extra with the observer that’s your soul.
Regularly concentrate to the observer.
Every day while you get up, meditate for a number of moments, paying consideration to how you’re feeling and what you could be experiencing. If you see gentle streaming into your room, observe who’s observing the sunshine. If you’re feeling pressured in regards to the day forward, concentrate on the observer watching the anxious ideas that may flood your thoughts or feeling the strain in your neck or again. Acknowledge that issues don’t have an effect on the observer. Think of the great thing about the moon obscured by clouds. The moon nonetheless exists above the clouds no matter what tries to block that glory. You, your soul, stay above your issues.
Use your physique.
Many of us have hassle sitting in a single place for a very long time. For these of us who get antsy, we are able to meditate whereas strolling to work, exercising, operating, and even doing our laundry. While transferring our our bodies, we are able to develop into aware of our actions. Simply saying, “I am crossing the street,” or, “I am breathing,” or, “I am folding socks,” is sufficient to assist us concentrate on the current and get us out of our heads.
Experiment with respiration patterns.
If you utilize an ordinary four-count meditation technique (inhaling and counting 1-2-3-4 and respiration out and counting 1-2-3-4), shake it up a bit. Instead of constructing your first breath an inhale, make it an exhale and then alternate breaths in and out on the four-count. Why do that? Our brains get used to patterns rapidly, which is why most of us don’t bear in mind driving to work if we’ve been utilizing the identical route for years. Mixing up patterns often, similar to brushing our enamel with our much less dominant hand, creates neural pathways that maintain our brains wholesome and alert. And it helps to make meditation extra participating as nicely.
Celebrate 31 Days with St. Ignatius by studying right now’s featured article, Learning to Live Reverently by Gerald M. Fagin, SJ.