Also called the “Consciousness Examen,” "Awareness Examen," or “Examination of Consciousness” (not to be confused with the “examination of conscience” that may precede the Sacrament of Reconciliation), the Examen is a method of peaceful daily prayer taught by St. Ignatius in the Spiritual Exercises as a way to notice the presence of God in one’s daily life and to live in generous response to it.
Though it may be expressed in a number of formats, in its most basic form, the Examen involves five steps:
- Centering. Come to a place of stillness and peace and recognize God's presence with you. Ask for assistance to see yourself and your experiences as God sees.
- Gratitude. Recall the gifts you have been given and be thankful.
- Review. Recall the events of the day (or the period to be reflected on), noticing especially experiences that bring up strong emotions, whether positive or negative.
- Sorrow. Consider any moments of regret or when you fell short. Ask forgiveness for any wrongs done.
- Response. In light of your reflections, ask for grace for tomorrow and the future.
This structure, while ideal for daily reflection, can be adapted to many circumstances and audiences. Here are a few other ways to experience this fundamental Ignatian practice:
Daily Examen: An alternate formulation of a basic daily examen
Printable Examen card: PDF version for sharing or printing
America Media Examen podcast: A podcast to guide you through a daily examens (reflections updated weekly), hosted by Fr. James Martin, S.J.
Examens for special circumstances
Examen for a new year: For a new academic or calendar year
Examen for times of illness: For those experiencing illness or injury, whether chronic or acute
Examen for social media: For reflecting on the ways we engage with the digital world
Examen with children: Suggestions for praying the Examen as a family
Lenten Examens: Series of examens and reflections for the season of Lent
Want to learn more about the Examen or develop a specific variation to use with your class, team, committee, or department? Contact Katherine Brown at Katherine.Brown@lmu.edu.