Is spiritual direction right for me?
You might engage with spiritual direction for any number of reasons:
• You long for a companion to listen and support you on your journey
• You’d like to gain new inspiration or rekindle your spirituality
• Your spirituality or theology is evolving and you’d like to have support for deconstructing/reconstructing your sense of the sacred
• You desire greater connection with something larger than yourself that can be a safe refuge and trusted reference point for your life, whether you call that God, spirit, Mystery, awareness, or any other name that resonates
• You want to identify what keeps you from developing a meaningful spiritual life
• You’d like to find or refine a regular spiritual practice
• You’d like clarity in identifying your deepest spiritual longing and support in living into that longing
• You’d like to connect with what’s already present and available in your life;
• You’d like to discern how to live into a multispiritual path
• You would like support with discerning life directions, decisions, transitions, intentions.
• Anything else you’d like to discuss that comes up in your spiritual life!
The spiritual path is vast and includes all of life. Nothing is excluded!
What are the benefits of spiritual direction?
Benefits can include but are not limited to:
• Discerning your unique sense of the spiritual, what is right and true for you
• Discovering a refuge within that is reliable; waking up to life, to your deepest self
• Greeting life’s ups and downs with a sense of curiosity and compassion
• Accepting yourself just as you are, as good enough, and deserving of your own care and kindness
• Increasing ease with life, a sense of greater peace and joy within
• Learning a new spiritual practice like meditation
• Becoming comfortable with uncertainty, and approaching life with more spontaneity and joy.
The spiritual journey is not straight. It's vast and lengthy, with lots of ups and downs. It includes all of life. Nothing is excluded. Everyone's path is completely different. Once you step on it, even if you feel you've fallen off, you haven't. It's a commitment to devoting our life to waking up to more wisdom and compassion, to living with more goodness in the world. It's all about the story of coming home to our vast, true nature.
~Diana Winston, mindfulness meditation teacher
What's the difference between spiritual direction and therapy?
Trying to decide between spiritual direction and therapy? It's a common question! One way to view it is whether you are looking to approach your current life concerns from a spiritual perspective or a mental health perspective. Not that one excludes the other, but one or the other would be the primary focus.
Spiritual direction differs from traditional therapy in a number of ways:
· Spiritual directors focus on spiritual questions - deep longings, questions of meaning, experiences of God or awareness or deep silence (however each person understands and names this), spiritual practices, what is holy and meaningful in life. And for my particular kind of spiritual direction, mindfully approaching thoughts, emotions, beliefs, etc. that might hinder a deeper understanding of ultimate reality. I also work with clients to develop and deepen their meditation practice. So overall, spiritual direction is more of a process and a journey without a definite ending point.
· Therapy generally is more goal-oriented and problem-solving oriented, the idea being you’ll work on an issue or issues with the goal of resolving the issue(s), and then therapy ends.
· Therapy delves more into the past to understand one’s present experience, while spiritual direction is less concerned with the past (although it may come up in discussions) and more concerned with one’s present moment experiences and working directly with that.
Therapy may be more concerned with problem solving, healing mental and emotional struggles, developing a healthy ego, and be focused on both the behavior patterns and the person - to make a better, happier person.
To contrast, spiritual direction is concerned with embracing the struggle rather than resolving it, listening to one’s own pain and experience as the best teacher, diminishing the impact of the ego rather than creating a better one, being with what is in a loving, accepting, non-judgmental way, seeing difficult behavior patterns as an entry point to inner transformation, and discovering our innate wisdom and compassion in order to facilitate inner transformation (rather than getting all external circumstances right to create happiness).
Sometimes people find value in both approaches and choose to do both therapy and spiritual direction concurrently.
Finally, therapists meet with clients once a week, while spiritual direction is traditionally done every two to four weeks although some clients choose to meet weekly in times of challenge or deep exploration.