What Is Spiritual Direction?
Put in its simplest terms, spiritual direction is a mindful, guided exploration of the sacred and spiritual facets of life.
As Liz Budd Ellmann, M.Div., Executive Director of Spiritual Directors International, says so well:
“Describing spiritual direction requires putting words to a process of fostering a transcendent experience that lies beyond all names and yet the experience longs to be articulated and made concrete in everyday living. It is easier to describe what spiritual direction does than what spiritual direction is.”
Spiritual direction fosters mindfulness of each person’s spiritual journey. It helps us articulate our own, unique sacred stories with compassion and curiosity. It reveals to us the ways we are grounded and rooted, and gives us permission to soar.
Why do people seek spiritual direction?
The reasons are as numerous as the people seeking this particular form of communication. Perhaps you sense a calling to more fulfilling work, but you are not able to envision exactly what that looks like. Maybe you are in a time of transition and reevaluation of priorities.
Here you’ll find a place for your stories, questions, and wondering. Room for tears. And very often there is laughter. Your hopes and fears, disappointments and joys are welcomed here. As we open to the presence and movement of Spirit, we may experience what the travelers on the road to Emmaus described, “did not our hearts burn within us?”
It is a safe haven for you to bring your questions and wondering, your pain, or fear, or disappointment, your desire for deeper connection to the Divine Mystery no matter the name.
In these times set apart just for you, there is a much needed opportunity to explore life’s biggest questions. You may have found the old ways by which you’ve always navigated your life…no longer seem helpful. Richard Rohr has said, “We don’t think our way into a new way of living, we live our way into a new way of thinking.”
Sometimes we come to sit with a spiritual companion because we feel we’ve lost our way, or we have come through a life-changing event, and need an extended time of a tender accepting presence while we open to the Spirit. Here you may notice that God is mending a broken heart or showing you a way to grieve over dashed dreams or forgive deep disappointment. Often, we find joy, and light, and inner spaciousness that invites our soul to dance. We move into life with new freedom.
As a spiritual companion I do not take the role of problem solver, but I am skilled at open-hearted listening as Spirit guides another soul into wholeness. And I am trained and skilled in “taking a long, loving look at the real.”
When we experience a companion who knows how to hear our heart speak, who can notice and reflect back to us to our soul’s yearnings, and even help us hold the questions long enough until we live our way into new perspectives, that can become an experience where someone “listened us into wholeness.” As a result, we more joyfully and powerfully can live into the fullness of our own gifts and, as Mary Oliver says so beautifully, we can “take our place in the family of things.”
Spiritual Direction together with other complimentary modalities, such as Reiki or Tuning Forks have become mutually supportive experiences. Often my clients find benefit in an hour and a half session in which we have time for both Reiki and Spiritual Direction.
When we sit together, we might use one or many maps and tools:
- Sacred texts
- Sounds of bell, or drum, or music
- Simple quiet
- Mandala drawing (or other kinds of creative expression)
- Simple movement
- Tuning forks or other sound therapy
- Simple Qigong practices
- Breath prayers
- Sensate noticing