Spiritual Direction is an ancient practice that is experiencing a resurgence in many faith traditions. Contemplatives tend to value the practice of spiritual direction as an integral aspect of a contemplative life. I’m not focusing on monk and nuns, specifically, but all people who want to know God more deeply or are searching for more meaning in life. We do that through incorporating intentional spiritual practices into our lives. There are many kinds of spiritual practices that help us focus our hearts on God and spiritual direction is simply one of those practices.
What is Spiritual Direction?
Before we begin a spiritual practice it’s helpful to have some understanding of what the practice is and why we might want to pursue it. At times, we can be sincerely seeking God, but end up with a lot of head knowledge that doesn’t necessarily lead to knowing God deeply. Religious organizations often focus on doctrinal issues and having the “right” answers. This is important, but deep spiritual growth requires more. Spiritual practices help us to connect with “heart mind”.
Spiritual Direction can be practiced individually or in groups, although the approach may vary a bit. Individually, it’s typical to meet with a director once a month to talk about your spiritual life, and how it’s intersecting with the rest of your life; not because the two are separate, but because we often don’t recognize that they are one. The Spiritual Director is a fellow companion on the spiritual path, not someone who tells you what to think or believe. We listen for God’s still, small voice and the director offers insights and suggestions for spiritual practices between sessions. The relationship with your Spiritual Director will hopefully grow into a deep connection that allows you to express your deepest yearnings.
A Typical Session
I usually begin my sessions with a few moments of silence or prayer if that feels comfortable to the directee. Then I invite the directee to talk about whatever is on his or her mind. My stance is to listen deeply to the words that are being spoken and to the promptings of God’s spirit. I share insights and offer spiritual practices to focus on until our next session, but the directee is the one who makes the choice as to how to ultimately do the practice.
What if I Belong to a Church, Synagogue, or Mosque?
Spiritual direction isn’t meant to replace your religious practices. Most people do both and find they complement each other. But, people who don’t formally practice a religion may consider spiritual direction to be their primary practice. You don’t have to be part of a particular belief system to practice spiritual direction; in fact, some people are agnostic, or have practiced a particular religion and then left. Spiritual Directors don’t tell you what to believe, but start with what you believe and what you’re seeking.
Spiritual Practices (also referred to as Spiritual Disciplines) include many different ways of practicing and Spiritual Direction is simply one of many. There are many reasons why someone might choose to work with a Spiritual Director:
Wanting to know God in a deeper way
Wanting a more meaningful life
Confusion about what path to follow
To learn spiritual practices that can be incorporated into your daily life
To talk about your beliefs, yearnings, questions, and so on in a setting that encourages spiritual exploration.
Join me on this life-changing path!
Deborah Haddock © 2022