Wishing to develop the spiritual side of who you are?
Having a Spiritual Director May be Helpful!
by Lynda Chalmers
What is spiritual direction? It can be difficult to define. Spiritual direction is about accompanying people on their personal unique spiritual journeys. Spiritual direction is about desiring to make the spiritual part of life more present or to recognize the holy in the everyday of our lives. In the space that is created in a spiritual direction session, there is an invitation to recognize the spiritual of being human. There is an invitation to allow the experience of God in the everyday to build relationship with God, connecting the human spirit with God’s spirit. It provides space to acknowledge our deepest longings – to explore the mysteries of life and our longings to feel loved and significant. It provides space and understanding that life doesn’t just happen in a horizontal way but also has a vertical and transcendent dimension as well. It provides a place to explore spiritual practices that a directee may be interested in that may foster a more contemplative life where the spiritual may emerge. It provides safety for your personal and unique unfolding of spiritual development. The focus is on your experience and not on theory. Spiritual direction is not about bringing a relationship about between the directee and a higher power, for that is already there before undertaking spiritual direction.
What happens in spiritual direction? In spiritual direction from a Christian tradition, there is a spiritual director and a directee. It sounds hierarchical but is not. It is understood as an equal relationship where both people are seekers of God (higher power, the divine) in their lives. It is not an advice giving session but a place where the directee can ponder and wrestle with the mysteries in their life and the director can be present and ask questions and facilitate the directee to extend their enjoyment of God, as well as their understanding and relationship with God. It is a place of possibilities and surprises!
How is spiritual direction different from counselling? My background training is in psychotherapy and I have a degree which focuses on a wholistic approach to people’s mental health and includes a bio, psycho, social, spiritual approach. My research and thesis included spirituality in therapy and being a spiritual director has extended that interest wonderfully. Perhaps because of my background, one of the first things people want to know is how is spiritual direction different from counselling? There are some similarities, of course. The session is approximately the same length of time, there is usually a payment for the service, there is space for concentrated attention to the directee as there is for a counselling client and there is focussed listening by the director as there is by the counsellor. There is also a trusting relationship that builds so the work can be done. The biggest difference is the purpose. The reason someone goes to counselling is normally because something is not going well in their lives and they are desiring change. The purpose for spiritual direction is that someone wants a deeper relationship with the spiritual in their lives.
If Spiritual Direction would be important for you at this time, please contact me for more information.
I have had a counselling practice for the last 20 years and have been practicing using a bio, psycho, social, spiritual model. My interest in spirituality has been lifelong and it increased when I did my research on spirituality in counselling for my thesis. Both of these themes have been very much alive for me as I have facilitated people’s growth in my counselling practice.
Currently, I am involved in education for spiritual direction, after engaging for some time in contemplative practices, as well as engaging in spiritual direction myself. I have been enjoying seeing directees and the excitement of learning through supervision and a training program which moves me towards a masters degree in spiritual development.
Lynda Chalmers MA RCC