While the purpose of these posts is to help you WAKE UP your spiritual life by offering you exercises designed to engage your heart and mind, you will find that each of the exercises offered will have more than one application. For instance, take the last post on using our senses to think about the Big Guy. You can use the same exercise for other applications. Think about having a discussion at work with your department or smaller work group using the questions we used in the exercise. Ask "What does your job / this department / this project (etc.) smell like?" And then work through all the senses asking lots of why questions! It would be an enlightening conversation.
Up the Ladder
Now let's learn to use the Ladder of Abstraction. The first thing to do is to take a piece of paper and draw a one-inch square right in the middle. Then, write "WAKE UP my spiritual life" inside the square. Next draw three one-inch lines up from the square, one off to the left, one up the middle and one to the right and draw a one-inch square at the end of each line.
Ask the question: "Why do I want to WAKE UP my spiritual life?" and write down an answer in each of the three empty boxes. One answer might be: "Because I feel dead inside" Another might be: "Because I used to have a vibrant spiritual life it has grown cold and I miss it" (feel free to go outside the lines of the boxes, and/or you might want to shorten the sentiment to fit in the box e.g. : "Grown cold, missing fire.") Another might be: "Because I've never had a meaningful spiritual life." Of course, make the answers your own.
Next, draw three lines upwards from each of your "WHY" boxes, put squares on the ends and repeat the exercise for each reason you gave. If you can go another level, then go for it.
Down the Ladder
Now, let's go back to the center box and draw three lines down towards the bottom, one down towards the left, one straight down, and one down towards the right. Add boxes on the ends. But this time, instead of answering the question "WHY?", write down some "HOWs". So, one "how" might be: "Do all of the exercises on the A Slap in the Faith website." Another might be: "Invite a friend to coffee and have a discussion about spiritual life." Another might be: "Make some time and find a place to be quite, meditate and have a good long conversation with the Big Guy."
Then, draw three (or more) lines down from each statement, add boxes, and repeat, stating "HOW" to do what you have written down. This will help you get real practical. If you can do another round, go for it.
You will find that by completing this exercise you will put a lot of thought into your spiritual life. Why you might want one, and how you might start to have one, and/or develop one. As you look over all of your boxes, one of them might draw you in even more than the center box. That's great. You'll be able to spend some time thinking about the whys and hows of that statement that you find especially interesting, and that will help you exercise your spiritual muscles!
You may find it helpful to flip the ladder over and write down on the other side of the paper any insights you may have had while completing the exercise.
You will find that you may use this exercise not only to WAKE UP your spiritual life, but you may gain important insights into other parts of your life too by writing a different "starter statement" in the center of a blank page. For instance, if, say, losing weight is something you would like to get motivated to do, try working a Ladder of Abstraction up and down from the statement "Lose weight."
I hope you find this exercise useful. May God bless you richly as you climb up and down the ladder. Let me know how it goes!