To begin your reflection and a genuine encounter with yourself, simply follow the steps below.
As you view, listen to, read, or practice what is offered, I invite you to progressively and closely attune to what you Sense, Image, Feel, Think and how you are moved to Behave (you can recall these activities of the mind via the acronym SIFT-B). These five features are a simplified summary of what your mind is continually doing as you “tell” your story by living it. Attuning to them enables you to attain a clearer awareness of where you are—and provides flexibility to shift your attention to where you want to be. You can wrap up the reflection here, having refocused your attention in a way that has been helpful, or move on to the next steps.
Listen to the recording or participate in the exercise by reading:
“Let me invite you to allow your body to find a relaxed posture, sitting or lying on your back. Now I want to invite you to allow your eyes to close and to slowly, intentionally take two deep breaths. Now I want to invite you to allow the focus of your attention to shift to your awareness of the room and the others who are in it with you. Next I want to invite you to allow the focus of your attention to shift to your awareness of yourself, sitting or lying where you are. Be aware of your posture, of how you are positioned. Notice if you are relaxed and if not, where tension exists in your body, examining your body in your mind, beginning in your feet and working your way to your head. As you are able, allow the tension to be released. And now, I want to invite you to allow the focus of your attention to shift to your awareness of your breath. You may find it at the opening of your nostrils, in the back of your throat, or deep within your lungs. Be aware of the movement of your breath. And now I want to invite you to maintain the focus of your attention on your breath. You may realize that your attention may wander, and it is normal for it to do so. And when you recognize that your attention has wandered away from your breath, simply, and without judgment, redirect your attention to your breath, remaining there for the next few moments……
And now, I want to invite you to allow the focus of your attention to shift to a different space. A new space. A space of your choosing, one of strength and beauty. It may be a place that you are familiar with or one that is completely novel. It may be inside or outside. It can be in a meadow, a mountain, near a body of water, or in a desert. Or it may be in your favorite chair in you home. It may take some time for you to arrive in this new space, but once you do I invite you to allow yourself to take some time and observe this space of beauty and strength that you now occupy. Notice the colors. Notice what you hear. Notice any aromas. Be aware of the ambient air temperature. Notice if you are standing or seated. If you are outside, be aware of any movement of the wind. And now, I invite you to allow for the presence of God to join you. And God will come as he will, perhaps from behind you or from beside you or in front of you. And now I invite you to notice God noticing you. Be aware of his regard for you. Notice his gaze as he looks at you with intention and kindness and joy. And now hear God say this. “You are my Son/Daughter. I love you so much. I could not be more pleased that you are on the earth. I cannot believe that I get to be your father. You are my delight and no one takes you out of my hand. I am so proud of you. It gives me great and lasting pleasure to be in your presence. You are my son whom I love. You are my daughter whom I love and in whom I am so very well pleased….”(pause)
And now I invite you to allow the focus of your attention to remain attuned to God being attuned and attentive to you. I Invite you to allow the focus of your attention to remain attuned to your awareness of what you feel, what you sense; remain attuned to seeing God seeing you. And now I invite you to allow for the presence of God to move. To move out of your sight line, but never to leave you alone. I now invite you to once again observe the beauty and strength of the space you occupy as well as the depth of what it is that you sense and feel as you remain in this space. And now I invite you to begin the process of returning from this space of strength and beauty to the space that you previously occupied. I invite you to allow the focus your attention to once again gradually shift to your awareness of your body in the room in which you sit and of others around you. I also invite you to bring to memory those images, feelings, and sensations that you experienced in that place of strength and beauty, permitting them to accompany you as you return to this room. I invite you to recall the words that you heard in the presence of God that you experienced there. And now when you are ready–but not before—I invite you to allow your eyes to open, returning to the space in this room, awake, alert and attuned, bringing with you that which you have experienced in that space of strength and beauty—again, when you are ready but not before.
After the exercise is completed, take a few moments to handwrite your reflections to the following questions.
What did you find yourself sensing, imaging, feeling, thinking, and how did you feel moved to behave (SIFT-B)?
How did those features of your mind (SIFT-B) shift during your encounter?
What in particular about the reading, painting or music has captured your attention?
To what is your attention drawn related to your current life experience? Related to important events and relationships from the first two decades of your life?
In what, if any way do you notice the presence and activity of shame?
What do you find yourself longing for? For instance, where does your experience point to parts of your story in which you long for healing? For renewed relationships? To be more resilient, loving, kind, and able to set more effective boundaries? Something else?
Consider someone you trust with whom you would be willing to share your experience. This would be someone who is interested in your story and will listen with empathy and curiosity. Arrange for a time to tell them your story and note how sharing it may change your experience of it.
To Keep In Mind
This exercise is intended to help you practice paying attention to those elements of your mind’s activity that make up the story you are telling, and as a result enable you to tell it more truly. We cannot correct our course without knowing what course we’re on. It is important to understand these reflections are not designed to make you feel or think anything in particular. There is no right response you “should” have; every answer is viable and valuable for self reflection. God is quite intent upon using all of your experiences to draw you into the beauty and goodness that your story is intended to become.