The Examen: A Practice for Becoming Spiritually Alert

Photo of man looking out window.There are spiritual practices that might help us become alert to the spiritual aspects of our daily lives; one especially powerful one is called the Examen.

The Examen was developed by Ignatius of Loyola about 500 years ago. He developed as a way of knowing when we seem to be moving towards God, and when we seem to be moving away from God. The practice involves looking at our recent life (perhaps the most recent day or half day) in considerable detail, and being alert to spiritual clues. Join us as we discuss how this practice might be helpful to us today.
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Ralph Waldo Emerson on Vocation

Drawing of Ralph Waldo EmmersonFrom a sermon preached by Ralph Waldo Emerson at the Second Church, Boston, October 21, 1832:

How many men now regard their business as so much interruption, as so much injury to their religious life? Their religious character is something separate from their daily actions. If instead of this each man worked in his favorite calling in the way and according to the principles of his own inward Teacher – and therefore with love – if he saw in every day’s labor that he was thereby growing more skillful and more wise; that he was co-operating with God in his own education, so that every dollar he earned was a medal of so much real power, — the fruit and means of so much real goodness; if neither his working hours nor his rest was lost time, but all was helping him onward, — would not his heart sing for joy? Would not the day be brighter and even the night light about him? Would not company be more pleasant and even solitude be sociable and his life reveal a new heaven and a new earth to his purer eyes?

The concept of calling can mean different things to different people, and in fact there are several different definitions in use by scholars of the subject. But I think Emerson points to something that should not be left out —

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Work Related Stress Part 1: Can Faith and Spirituality Help?

Photo of sleepless man with stressWork related stress is a big problem. We all know how painful and dysfunctional it can be. It can damage our health and limit our effectiveness. But there are some things we can do.

In this episode, we will begin by focusing on the work of psychologist Richard Lazarus and the importance of how we appraise potentially stressful situations.
We also draw out possible spiritual and religious connections. (Time: 13:23)

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Leaving Work: Might a Ritual Help?

Some of us have trouble leaving our work behind at the end of the day and have an unfortunate tendency to bring our stress and other pre-occupations home with us. This not only makes it difficult to recharge our batteries, but can also hinder our non-work relationships and activities.

Jackie and John Coleman (“Don’t Take Your Work Home with You”) offer a number of ideas that might help. For me, one in particular stands out: “have an end of work habit”. I would like to explore this idea further.

Perhaps we could develop a ritual of some sort to help us make the transition from work. . .

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Passion and Our Work

Photo of woman concentrating on work
We sometimes hear that we should “follow our passion”. But what happens when we actually do have a passion for our work – or maybe for some aspect of our work? Is this positive? Or is it negative? Actually, according to psychologist Robert Vallerand, it could be either one — depending on the type of passion. Vallerand has written a very interesting and valuable book called the Psychology of Passion: A Dualistic Model in which he proposes that there are two types of passion: harmonious and obsessive. This has important implications for our work lives, which we explore in this episode.
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Spiritual Renewal for Your Work Life


What might spiritual renewal mean? In this episode we explore what spiritual renewal could mean for our work life. Maybe it would lead to working with greater purpose, compassion, and equanimity, and help us develop a higher level of collaboration and teamwork. We also discuss how our faith and spirituality might help us find spiritual renewal.
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The Season of Advent: A Time of Stress and Maybe of Spiritual Renewal

Photo of man praying at dawn during AdventA Time of Waiting

The season of Advent can be the busiest, most stressful time of year. But it can also be a time of profound spiritual renewal if we are able to adopt an attitude of waiting and preparation.

In this Advent edition of the Faith and Enterprise Podcast, we discuss the benefits of finding a few minutes a day for prayer, meditation, and reflection. We also offer a few thoughts on how it might be possible to do so despite busyness of the season. (Time:8:39)

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Advent Recordings 2016: The World Waits

Photo Advent Dawn

This is a very busy time of year for many of us — maybe the busiest. But Advent should also be a time of waiting, reflection, and spiritual renewal.

To help you wait and reflect, we will offer again this year a series of weekly recorded meditations. Each one is designed to provide a starting point for your own meditation. Each contains a passage of scripture, two or three questions for reflection, and some peaceful background music.

This week’s reflection, A Message of Hope During a Time of Trouble, is based on Isaiah 61:1-4

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Spirituality and the State of Flow

flowMost if us are familiar with the expression being in the zone, and in fact most have probably experienced it at some point. Psychologists usually refer to it as being in a state of flow. It is usually thought of as involving a higher level of alertness, concentration, and maybe skill. Most also remember it as a very positive experience.

The state of flow is not often thought of as spiritual but there is a possible relationship that is worth exploring, and in any case the concept has a lot to say about human flourishing and growth.

We discuss flow and its causes, benefits, and connection with our faith and spirituality in a new article and on the podcast episode linked below.
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Burnout in the Workplace: What Can We Do?

Photo of man facing burnoutBurnout is a big problem in the workplace. It is an organizational, psychological, and spiritual problem and is usually thought to be the result of intense, prolonged stress. The primary symptoms usually include chronic exhaustion, an absence of meaning in our work and our work relationships, and a sense of powerlessness leading to a lack of a sense of accomplishment.

We discuss the causes of burnout and possible solutions, including those involving our faith and spirituality, in the podcast episode linked below and in a new article.

Burnout is a big problem, but there are things we can do about it. (Time: 13:59)
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Nancy Ammerman on Religion in Everyday Life


Scholar and sociologist Nancy Ammerman has spent a great deal of time studying what she has termed “lived religion”, the “embodied and enacted forms of spirituality that occur in everyday life”, including the workplace.  She includes beliefs and religious in lived religion, but goes well beyond these to include everyday practice.  Ammerman found that religion and spirituality helped individuals find meaning throughout their daily lives:
“Looked at from one angle, what we found in stories of everyday life was that individuals were cultivating a religious consciousness and weaving a layer of spirituality into the fabric of their individual lives, a warp and woof that extend far beyond the institutional domain designated as ‘religious’.”

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Leaders in Crisis and the Value of Theological Resources

Photo of leader thinkingNo one can predict the future, but we seem to be moving into a period of crisis that will put unusual burdens on leaders.  Cultural and institutional changes (and in many cases failure) will call for leaders grounded in a broader, deeper perspective.  Our institutions of faith and spirituality could play an important role in helping us prepare for this future.

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The Power of Integrity in Our Work Lives

josephIntegrity involves being in alignment — our words and actions are in alignment with our values and who we are at a deep level. As the story of Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife suggests, integrity can help us through the tough times and be a source of strength and resiliency in our work lives.This story is from the Biblical book of Genesis, Chapter 39, and takes place after Joseph has been kidnapped by his older brothers and sold into slavery in Egypt. (Time: 8:20)
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Coping With Stress: When Religion Helps or Hurts

Photo of woman in stressTo prepare for our recent Spirituality for Busy People class, I reread some of psychotherapist and scholar Kenneth Pargament’s classic book The Psychology of Religion and Coping: Theory, Research, Practice. One of his key observations is that while religion can provide relief during times of stress, the actual form of religious coping matters a great deal.  According to Pargament:

The seemingly straight forward question, ‘Does religion work,’ could not be answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no.’  Instead, the answer depends on the kind of religion one is talking about, who is doing the religious coping, and the situation the person is coping with.  Depending on the interplay among these variables, religion can be helpful, harmful, or irrelevant to the coping process. (p.312)

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Workplace Stress: Can a Spiritual Practice Known as the Prayer Mantra Help?

photo of back of praying women's headWorkplace stress is a common problem with important consequences for both our health and our effectiveness. A spiritual practice known as the prayer mantra can help us calm down, place our problems in a more realistic perspective, and act with greater strength, insight, and resilience. It can also help us stay on track at other times. (Time: 6:52)
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