It’s important for participants to share how they practiced the transformation exercises because disciplines are as much “caught” as “taught.” End the first session by asking participants to look at the exercises and choose the one that best fits their personality and life habits. Encourage participants to change or modify the suggestions to fit them. If they’re unsure about what to do, ask God for ideas and seek God’s guidance. To those who seem especially discouraged, ask, How are you already practicing these disciplines?
After the first week, use the opening moments to review how the experiments with the transformation exercises went. Allow at least ten minutes of your session time for this. (If you find there’s not enough time to talk about transformation exercise experiences, it’s OK to omit a few questions.) Be sure to use words such as “experiment” and “try it out.” Ask participants to focus on these questions: How did it help you connect with God? What worked? What didn’t work? If you tried it again, what would you do differently? You learn a great deal from doing an exercise that didn’t work. The only way to fail is not to experiment.
Listen carefully and learn from each other. We often learn from the person most opposite from us. Honor any attempt to try the discipline. For example, practicing solitude and silence for only 15 minutes is good! Promote this approach: “progress, not perfection.” We start small—we don’t try to be martyrs. Apply this adage to the practical of all disciplines: “Pray as you can, not as you can’t.” Do what you can do and don’t worry about what you can’t do.