When you are in need of a safe place to share your spiritual questions and experiences, individual spiritual direction is a good place to start. The one-on-one approach allows for deep, confidential and slow-paced sharing.
Typical one-on-one spiritual direction involves a 50-60 minute session between a spiritual director and you, the directee. The director is trained to listen and enhance your exploration with questions, reflections and times of silence.
You should enter a session ready to talk because the directee does 90% of the talking in a typical direction session. This is your time to be heard. You are not there to be lectured to or given a prescribed “plan.” The experience of being accompanied by a spiritual director should feel like a peaceful luxury in a hurried world.
Even though you are doing 90% of the talking, the director is still working. He or she is listening in silent prayer and reflection, waiting for the right moment to share a reflection, observation or question with you. That question, by the way, does not have a “correct” answer. It should be open-ended, to allow you to tell your story more completely. The director may ask for times of silence in order to slow the pace down and give everyone involved—including the Spirit—a chance to settle.
It is difficult to say “this is precisely what a direction session looks like” because it can vary depending on director and directee. Here’s what is standard in a session: You will share what you came to spiritual direction to explore. The director will, in some way, draw your attention to an awareness of the presence of God (or whatever name you use for the holy) in what you have shared. If you are having trouble finding words for that awareness, the director may help you find the words. Or if you are not sure how the presence of God shows up in your life, the director may help you discover how certain experiences you describe have a Godlike quality to them.
It may take several sessions for you and your director to find the right “groove” for working together. Or you may need to shop around and have sessions with several different directors to find one that feels right for you. Don’t feel bad if things don’t click right away. We are all made so differently that there could never be one spiritual director right for everyone.
The most important thing in spiritual direction is that you feel safe and feel the freedom to share what is on your heart with the person sitting across from you. When you have that in the presence of a spiritual director you will have found a fit.
For more about spiritual direction as I practice it, check out my website. If you have questions or comments about the content of Spiritual Direction 101, please let me hear from you in the reply section below.