Editor’s observe: 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 can we even know we have now one? We can pinch an arm and understand we have now a physique by the feeling we really feel. We can learn one thing, make sense of what we learn, and know we have now 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 considering 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 kids, a guardian’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 appreciated the colour yellow. Bees I get, however wasps? What function 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 have a look at one thing in entrance of you, possibly 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 will not be your ideas. You will not be the voice inside your head.
You are the observer observing your ideas. Not the fears you are feeling. Not the issues you may have. 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 features of your life, thoughts, and physique, however your soul has a really particular connection to the Eternal. Problems will come and go, and after they do, remind your self that the actual you is the observer who typically 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 listen to the observer.
Every day if you get up, meditate for just a few moments, paying consideration to how you are feeling and what you is likely to be experiencing. If you see gentle streaming into your room, observe who’s observing the sunshine. If you’re feeling confused in regards to the day forward, deal with the observer watching the anxious ideas that may flood your thoughts or feeling the stress 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 will meditate whereas strolling to work, exercising, working, and even doing our laundry. While transferring our our bodies, we will develop into acutely 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 deal with the current and get us out of our heads.
Experiment with respiration patterns.
If you employ a regular four-count meditation methodology (inhaling and counting 1-2-3-4 and respiration out and counting 1-2-3-4), shake it up a bit. Instead of creating 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 shortly, 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, corresponding to brushing our tooth 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 as we speak’s featured article, Learning to Live Reverently by Gerald M. Fagin, SJ.