I find myself regularly failing to meet up to my standards of acceptable behavior. I am either too short tempered, too timid, too impatient, too disorganized, too, too, too many things that do not add up to a good, worthy me! I spend a lot of time thinking about what I could have done better and then feeling a defeatist kind of regret at my obvious human-ness. 

But recently, I was introduced to St. Ignatius Loyola's Spiritual Exercises. The cornerstone is the “examen.” The examen is similar to doing a daily meditation or prayer, but there are steps; Experience, Reflection and Action. In the Experience I go over the day’s events. I list all the things of the day; good bad, indifferent. Then I list at least three gratitudes. Then I Reflect. I take stock in how I measured up in my day. This is often a very uncomfortable experience. I have to be honest with myself and hold myself accountable for all my actions (or inactions). Lastly, I meditate and ask for grace. In the meditation, I wait and ask for direction, that’s the Action part. I ask myself What are my next steps? What am I going to do now? 

I am grateful for this practice. It has helped me accept my failures and reminds me that I am going to live to see another day. And with that day I have options. I can do better. 

Yoga teaches us how to be accepting. However, acceptance isn’t necessarily an indulgent, permissive mother. Sometimes she’s stern and demanding. Acceptance means we sometimes have to give ourselves the side eye and say, “really? Was that your best effort?” And when the answer is “no,” we have to say “OK, well, that happened. What am I going to do now?” And then we have to go out there and try again. Try, reflect, try again.

This is the grace of a mindfulness practice. It does not excuse us, but it does forgive us. AND it demands we do better. It is fierce love. 

As you head into your days, I recommend a daily reflective practice to help you manage your messy lives. How do you strive to be a better person? What happened when you fell short? What have you done lately that you are not proud of? How do you love yourself? And what are you going to do now?  

Try, reflect, try again.