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Spiritual Direction

Spiritual Direction

A Story by Bishop R. Joseph Owles

WHAT IS SPIRITUAL DIRECTION?

The standard definition of Spiritual Direction is the practice of being with people as they attempt to deepen their relationship with the divine, or to learn and grow in their own personal spirituality. The person seeking direction shares stories of his or her encounters of the divine, or how he or she is experiencing spiritual issues. The director listens and asks questions to assist the directee in his or her process of reflection and spiritual growth.

My definition of Spiritual Direction is that it is the process of becoming more fully human. Human beings are both physical and spiritual beings. Many people focus solely on the physical or the spiritual, ignoring the other. Those who do attempt to focus on both the spiritual and the physical often do so with the idea that the physical and the spiritual are distinct and separate, as if they are equal and opposite like an image reflected in a mirror.

The truth is that we are spiritual and physical beings in a way that the spiritual and physical are intertwined. They may be distinct things, but they are interdependent. The stomach, the liver, the intestines may be distinct organs, but they are interdependent �" the body will not live without each one of them, and the health of one affects the health of the other organs, as well as the overall health of the individual.

Many people assume that going to church once a week is supposed to satisfy their spiritual needs for the week. Imagine if you only ate one meal a week. Imagine if you only had one hour a week to eat, and whatever you ate during that time would have to sustain you for the week. If you missed that hour, you do not eat that week. How healthy do you think you would be? Yet, that is exactly how most people treat their spiritual health. They go to church once a week (maybe) and they are mentally, spiritually, and emotionally absent during a lot of that time. Then they go about their very real, and very stressful lives and wonder why they are not getting anything out of church or why they are not more spiritual.

So Spiritual Direction is learning how to ingest balanced, nutritional, regularly scheduled meals for your spirit.
Spiritual Direction is important because:
Your spiritual help affects your physical health, just as your physical health affects your spiritual health.

What Spiritual Direction is NOT:

Spiritual Direction is not psychotherapy, counseling, or financial planning. It is not "Therapy"; although, it is therapeutic. Although discussions between a Spiritual Director and a Directee may touch on many subjects, Spiritual Direction IS NOT “counseling,” psychotherapy or “life coaching.”


WHY SEEK SPIRITUAL DIRECTION?

In essence, that has already been answered in that Spiritual Direction is learning how to develop spiritual health, and therefore, allows us all to become closer to the person we were created to be. In addition, overall health is linked to one's spiritual health as well as one's physical health.

That being said, there are many other reasons why people may seek Spiritual Direction:

Some people seek out Spiritual Direction as a means of deepening and strengthening the Spiritual Life they already experience.

Some people come to Spiritual Direction seeking advice about how to provide greater structure or discipline in their Spiritual Practice. Conversely, others come to Spiritual Direction with a desire to experience a greater sense of freedom and exploration.

Many individuals seeking Spiritual Direction grew up in strong communities of faith and Spiritual Practice and recognize Spiritual Direction is a natural means of fully engaging their faith. Others come to Spiritual Direction with no experience with any kind with Spiritual Practice, or connection to a Spiritual Community, but they seek to explore the Spiritual dimensions of Life.

Some just want to feel closer to God, to their Church, or tradition.

Some realize that there is something missing from their lives and seek Spiritual Direction in order to help them find what it is -- or at least, to help them ask better questions about what may be missing.

There is no right or wrong reason to seek Spiritual Direction.


WHAT HAPPENS IN SPIRITUAL DIRECTION?

Very simply, Spiritual Direction is a three-way conversation between the Directee, the Director, and God. Generally understood: The Directee does most of the talking, the Director does most of the listening, and God is present and participates. Spiritual Direction explores how and where God is present and most understandable and relatable. Ways to strengthen or deepen a relationship with God or with the divine are also explored.

Typically, Spiritual Direction sessions take place in a setting that is comfortable and safe for the directee and the director. Sometimes this is in a public place, such as a coffee shop, or restaurant, or even outside in the park. With appropriate trust, sessions can also take place in a directees home or office space. It can even take place online via Skype or Instant Messaging.

Sessions usually last for an hour and can consist of dialogue, listening, silence, meditation, prayer, instruction, sacramental ministry or ceremony, instruction or guidance, or any combination of these things depending on the needs of the directee and the leading of the Spirit....


DO I HAVE TO HAVE AN UNDERSTANDING OF GOD TO BEGIN SPIRITUAL DIRECTION?

No. Being open to God or a "Higher Power" is all that is required. This is a process of learning who God is for YOU. This can also be a process of learning who God is not. Spiritual Direction may often be easier to someone who does not have a highly defined understanding of God because that person has the freedom to explore God in a manner that is not limited by preconceived ideas or a particular religion or tradition. On the other hand, being Catholic, or Protestant, can give a person a vocabulary and a foundation upon which to begin a journey to rediscover who God is. The God that is encountered in Spiritual Direction is "God, as YOU understand God."

DO I HAVE TO BE A CHRISTIAN TO BE IN SPIRITUAL DIRECTION?


No. Every person has a spirit regardless of their religion or lack of religion. Spiritual Direction is available to any person, regardless of their faith tradition. It is not the role of the Spiritual Director to “convert” the Directee to any particular religious belief or practice, but to assist the Directee in cultivating a meaningful relationship with the divine according to their own understanding.


© 2013 Bishop R. Joseph Owles


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Added on August 2, 2013
Last Updated on August 2, 2013
Tags: spirit, spiritual, direction, God, Jesus, Christ, exercises, 12 steps, holy

Author

Bishop R. Joseph Owles
Bishop R. Joseph Owles

Alloway, NJ



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