Spiritual Direction Demystified

Spiritual Direction Demystified April 2, 2018

I can’t tell you how many times people have told me if they had only known about spiritual direction they would have started it long ago. Of course, certain populations, such as clergy and members of monastic orders have known about spiritual direction for ages. But the practice of exploring your spiritual path with a trained listener whose only desire is to help you grow in awareness of your understanding of God is for anyone who needs it—regardless of vocation or spiritual tradition.

One of my goals in life is to demystify this wonderful practice. That’s why I turned this blog which I began 6 years ago into a book, Spiritual Direction 101: The Basics of Spiritual Guidance. In it, I cover the history and current practice of spiritual direction, ethical considerations, how to find a spiritual director, how to become one and what resources you can use to learn more about spiritual guidance.

What it is

Let’s begin with a definition of spiritual direction. Here’s my favorite:

Spiritual direction is an exploration of your spiritual path with a person trained in listening, deep reflection and discernment.

Those are all carefully chosen, important words so let’s break it down.

Anatomy of spiritual direction

A spiritual director explores with you. We don’t tell you what you need to know, do or have in order to be spiritual. It is essential that you feel the freedom that comes with exploration in spiritual direction.

It is your path we are exploring. No one else’s. The time you spend with a spiritual director is supposed to be about you taking the next step along your spiritual path. Not taking a step your director thinks you ought to take. This is a key point and if you find a spiritual guide pushing you in their direction, find another guide.

The path is spiritual. We are not therapists poking around your psyche. All of life is spiritual—God is found in all our experiences. And each of us uses a variety of images and names for the mystery some of us call God. With that understanding we will explore with you many aspects of your life. But we keep the emphasis on spirituality.

We are trained in listening. Yes, training is necessary in order to listen well. In our culture today, listening is a lost art.

We are trained in deep reflection. Spiritual directors learn how to interact with you so that as you talk about your life, we can help you spiral deeper into areas where you find the most meaning.

We are trained in discernment. Within the Christian tradition lies a lot of wisdom about making faithful choices. A good director is trained in the principles of discernment.

Is it for you?

Is this what you are looking for? Someone to listen and help you reflect on your unique and wonderful spiritual path? Someone to help you with discernment when you come to a point in your life where you want to make a faithful choice?

If so, consider seeking out a spiritual director. Check out the “Seek and Find Guide” on the website of Spiritual Directors International to find one near you. If you live in an area that has few or no spiritual directors, then find someone who works by phone or video conferencing. You will be glad you did because spiritual direction is not just for the “professionally holy” anymore!

Would you like to talk with me about spiritual direction? I have openings in my schedule for new directees—regardless of where you live. I can work by phone or Skype or if you live in the Phoenix metro area we can meet in person. Contact me at teresa@teresablythe.net  or visit www.teresablythe.net.

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