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What is spiritual direction?

At its core, spiritual direction is a working relationship focused on the spiritual growth of the seeker. Somehow, you have come to an awareness of your own inner landscape. Maybe you’re wondering what to do with your life, or maybe you’re interested in praying better. Maybe you’re running into questions about God, the universe, and your life, and you’re not finding the answers that feel satisfactory. Maybe you just feel a bit lost or lonely, or you’ve had an amazing mystical experience and you want someone to talk about it with. These are all great paths into spiritual direction.

What is a spiritual direction session like?

The most typical arrangement is this: you and the spiritual director meet once a month for about an hour. If we meet in person, ideally we’ll be in a quiet, relaxed, comfortable room without distractions. We might also meet via Zoom if we need to, or talk on the phone. I begin with prayer or with a time of silence, and then we simply talk about what’s going on with you. You talk, I listen, and we both pay attention to what’s happening in your life.

Of course there are other ways to do it. If you’re working through the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius with me, we’ll meet weekly. Sometimes spiritual direction happens daily in a retreat setting. Sometimes spiritual direction happens in a group, rather than one on one. But the “classic” spiritual direction is one on one, monthly, and an hour.

For centuries, and in many spiritual and religious traditions, people have talked about their spiritual lives with trusted advisors or guides. In the Christian tradition, spiritual direction has a long heritage, going all the way back to New Testament times. One of the best parts of this new 21st century is that spiritual directors from many traditions are now working together, comparing notes on techniques and insights. There are now Buddhist and Jewish, Catholic and Quaker, Pagan and Spiritual-but-not-religious spiritual directors.

Director or Companion?

For some people, “spiritual director” is a term that feels a little too heavy or hierarchical. We also use the term spiritual companion, which might imply more of a feeling of walking side by side. I use the term spiritual director and spiritual direction just because it’s more classic and well-known. For me, I believe you and I will be working together to notice what God is up to in your life. The ultimate “director” is the Holy One!