What is spiritual direction?
Spiritual direction is an ancient practice that has been a part of the Christian tradition since the third and fourth centuries when people sought guidance and wisdom from the mystics we now call the Desert Fathers and Mothers. The primary purpose of spiritual direction is to help persons become more aware of God’s presence in their daily lives. To help them begin to see God’s action in the here and now and then to help them see how their lives are a response to that initiative. Directors typically meet with individuals once a month in a completely confidential, private one-hour session. Some directors work with small groups and, in that case, the monthly sessions may be two or more hours.
Why is spiritual direction sometimes called ‘the art of inner listening?’
In our culture, our lives are very noisy and rushed. Often, we need help to slow down, to “turn down the noise” and really listen to our lives. Spiritual direction allows us to listen more deeply. It helps us gain clarity about our relationships, our hopes and concerns, our conflicts and our joys. The visual symbol of a spiritual direction session is three chairs: one each for the director, the directee, and the Holy. Moments of prayerful silence in sessions allows both the director and the directee to listen deeply to Spirit’s guidance. Some spiritual directors emphasize the contemplative approach more than others, but all can offer suggestions and resources to help directrees explore contemplative practices outside of sessions.
When is spiritual direction helpful?
Spiritual direction can be helpful at any time of life but especially during times of discernment or grief or major life transition. Spiritual direction is not therapy or pastoral counseling. It does not set out the “fix” a particular problem. The relationship lasts as long as the director and the directee find it sustaining and nourishing.
How are spiritual directors qualified to do this work?
Essentially, spiritual directors are trained listeners. They are spiritual companions or guides, walking with people on their journeys. Most of them are lay persons though some are ordained clergy or vowed religious. Each Episcopal spiritual director in Minnesota has been trained in a qualified program through various regional organizations: the Cenacle, the Center of Spiritual Guidance (WomanWell), Christos Center for Spiritual Formation, Sacred Ground Center for Spirituality, the University of St. Catherine, as well as programs in other parts of the country, such as Shalem Institute and Mercy Center. They adhere to standards of professional boundaries, ethical conduct, complete confidentiality, and regular supervision, as recommended by the guidelines of Spiritual Directors International. They participate in on-going in-service training offered by various spirituality centers and theological programs in the region and beyond.
How can you begin spiritual direction?
During an initial spiritual direction conversation, you can discuss your needs and concerns and get a feel for the director’s approach. Most people can tell if they have found a good match in two or three sessions. There is generally a fee for each session. Fees vary and are often based on your current ability to pay.
To access the names and contact information of Episcopal spiritual directors, click on the link “Spiritual Directors.” Additional questions can be directed to our e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The current coordinator of the Episcopal spiritual director’s group is Mike Sirany. He can be reached at email@example.com or by calling 651-483-8261