De Mello: Albums and Awareness
“This return to past scenes where you felt love and joy is one of the finest exercises I know for building up your psychological health.”
Anthony de Mello in Sadhana: A Way to God (N. Y.: Image Books, 1984), pp. 72-73.
I must admit that I decided to read Anthony de Mello’s book, Sadhana: A Way to God, while I was studying about spiritual direction because it is not long, looked like easy reading, and I knew I had a great deal going on in my life in the next coming weeks of study! Well, it is only 140 pages, but it is the kind of material where one should practice one exercise one day at a time for 140 days or even better one exercise, one week at a time. There was only one exercise that I found too hard to do, and that was Exercise 29 where we image ourselves as a corpse decomposing! I have otherwise found every one of them so helpful with so many ways to connect to God.
Each exercise was one that I wanted to practice. I think I identified most with the fantasy exercises, especially Exercise 18, the joyful mysteries of your life. Here we immerse ourselves in joyful times in our lives, remembering details, staying in the moment, experiencing the joy, love. De Mello then recommends that we build an album of these peak experiences to return to in order to help us through difficult times, to keep reminding ourselves of the joy in our life, and the presence of God in those past moments during dry times when God may not feel present.
De Mello writes that when we have memorable experiences we never truly appreciate and take in the joy of the total awareness of what is happening. He asks us to go back again and again to the event to replay it and feel the love we were offered and be nourished again by the experience. He cautions us not to be an observer but put ourselves totally back into the experience. De Mello believes remembering these experiences increases our capacity for joy and consequently opens our life to receive more fully the love of God.
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