What is Spiritual Direction?
“All people should try to learn before they die
what they are running from, what they are running to, and why."
The spiritual journey is often a lonely path, especially in difficult or trying times. A sacred companion, like a spiritual director or friend, can guide and reflect back to us loving presence in our life and the world—awakening new possibilities, connections, and deeper meaning.
In our busy and stressful society, many people are searching for meaning, truth, and a deeper connection to themselves through their spiritual life. As people look for answers and for depth, they inevitably find it helpful to have someone journeying with them. Spiritual direction (or spiritual companioning) is a process of asking meaningful questions and listening with the help of another who invites focus and presence. Any aspect of our lives can be brought into a spiritual direction relationship.
Richard Rohr says, “If you do not have someone to guide you, to hold onto you during the times of not knowing, you will normally stay at your present level of growth," and thus the core mission of spiritual companionship is helping others grow by recalling their true essence, however they might perceive it. And although it can be described as a journey of discovery in some ways, it is more of a process of unveiling and revealing what has always been there.
“There is an end to suffering.” -the Buddha
A Spiritual Director is one who is prepared through training, experience, and extensive spiritual formation to help another in his or her spiritual life. Not a counselor or therapist, a director is a listener and guide who can help a person notice, discern, and respond to his or her chosen path’s invitation to awakening, truth, gratitude, growth, change and simplicity, freedom and love, wholeness, and trust.
Some possible goals of Spiritual Direction include identifying and trusting your experience of the sacred, integrating your spirituality into daily life, discerning and making difficult choices, sharing hopes, struggles and losses, developing sensitivity and compassion for others and yourself, living the essence of your faith with greater integrity, identifying obstacles that may prevent you from connecting with others, increasing openness to others and to your own inner movements, letting go of the need to control, embracing and transforming your shadow side, cultivating forgiveness and learning to receive love and acceptance.
It is not you who shapes God, it is God who shapes you.
Let your clay be moist, lest you grow hard and lose the imprint of God’s fingers.”
Spirituality is the practice of staying consciously connected with what makes us alive. Within each of us lies the desire to find meaning beyond the mundane, to discover our true selves and to grow closer to our Source and to one another. A spiritual director can help you satisfy that longing.
Choosing a Director
It is important to choose a director with whom you feel comfortable and safe. A director does not necessarily need to be from your chosen religious tradition; in fact, it is often better if he or she is not. Most people can tell if they have found a good match in just a few sessions.
On Spiritual Direction
“Humans are amphibians...half spirit and half animal...as spirits they belong to the eternal world, but as animals they inhabit time. This means that while their spirit can be directed to an eternal object, their bodies, passions, and imaginations are in continual change, for to be in time, means to change. Their nearest approach to constancy, therefore, is undulation--the repeated return to a level from which they repeatedly fall back, a series of troughs and peaks.”
― C.S. Lewis
We have a sacred impulse to return to the space of our own making in order to reconcile ourselves to something that can feel dangerously real. We seem to have an invisible intuition that demands that we reconcile our own opposites, that we shine our falsehoods with the light of our truths, that we become large enough to contain all our contradictions and divisions with the wide arms of wisdom’s understanding, love’s forgiveness, and compassion’s reconciliation. We desire to hold all of our time-bound brokenness with our eternal wholeness, our earthliness with our transcendence, our humanity with our divinity. Choosing to return to, explore, and feel the truths that we hold in the felt sense of memory in our clay body and emotions is like a salmon choosing to swim back upstream to find its original home; its spawning grounds. This upstream journey is arduous, and everything can seem to be fighting against that sacred homing impulse. Yet we persevere, understanding that to find the truth of our origins is to find the truth of our now… just as to find the truth of our now is to find the truth of our origins. Truth isn’t bound by time. And so, we can see the golden thread of truth that runs through all our days, regardless of how distant we may feel from it. We are drawn by the irresistible force of ourselves, the truth of our being, the love that we have always been.