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What is Spiritual Direction?

Here’s a question I come across from time to time: “What is spiritual direction?” This question makes me very happy because it means someone has heard about spiritual direction and that they have some interest in hearing more about it. Currently there is a renewed interest in this ancient spiritual tool found in all the great world religions in some form.

Spiritual directors would be the first to say that the spiritual guide is not actually a “director," in the sense of giving answers or telling you the direction to take. In spiritual direction, both the “directee” and the spiritual guide listen together for the direction of the Spirit as you open your life in God’s presence. There may be two chairs in the room, but there are three persons present in this monthly, sacred time—you, the director, and God. Something happens when we come before God on a regular basis and ask for guidance, blessing, healing. Both you and the “director” count on the graced action of the Spirit, as you talk through what’s happening in your life and listen for God’s voice.

Another question I often hear is, "What do you talk about in spiritual direction?" I would say first, talk about whatever Is going on in your life, because that’s where God meets you. You can talk about choices you face, relationships, feelings, prayer, questions stirring within. One of the gifts of direction is that the director is an objective listener who can hear themes, notice patterns, ask good questions.

Another gift of spiritual direction is that you make your spiritual and personal growth a priority in your life. You take yourself more seriously, listen to yourself more intentionally, and reverence the journey you are on. Many times in direction, you hear yourself say something you didn’t consciously realize you knew or felt. And it's good to listen to yourself on a regular basis!

So you'll want to think about how regularly you want to meet with a spiritual director. Spiritual direction usually happens every 4-6 weeks, for an hour per session. Most directees give a stipend to the director for their time. If you are interested, or getting a nudge to look into this, inquire about trained directors in your area. Spiritual direction is a tremendously helpful tool that supports a seeker on the path.