Spiritual direction is simply the process of being in touch with those who are trying to deepen their spiritual relationship with God or to learn and develop their spirituality. The seeker shares anecdotes of their personal experiences of the spiritual world, or how they’re cultivating a spiritual life attuned to spiritual matters. The spiritual seeker might ask questions of other spiritual seekers, sharing that information so that the whole group can benefit from the answers. It can also be beneficial for the seeker to find out more about the history and methodology of spiritual direction before engaging in it themselves. In this article, we’ll explore some of the aspects of spiritual direction, as well as some tips for those who wish to engage in it on their own.
How does spiritual direction – or spiritual life – begin? Some spiritual paths claim to offer a certain secret knowledge, but most spiritual direction – and its implementation – begins with introspection. To discover our spiritual nature, we must first know ourselves. How do we do this?
Two elements are critical to spiritual direction – openness and humility. Exposing one’s self to others, and learning to listen intently, are essential to spiritual life and development. It’s important to take full responsibility for one’s actions, accepting the responsibility of each step in the spiritual direction – whether that’s working towards a spiritual goal or leading a spiritual life in line with organized religion. Opening up to others, accepting and being humble enough to admit when we’re wrong, are two fundamental tenants of spiritual direction – and are the building blocks of an open and accepting spiritual community.
When spiritual direction begins with introspection, it’s time to startknowing’ oneself. Who are we? What are our strengths and weaknesses? What makes us want to be spiritual, and what makes others want to be spiritual? While one can’t ‘know’ themselves, one can find answers to these questions and begin to understand how other people view and work toward spiritual life.
Openness to Others
Openness to others is not an easy task, but one can make it a priority if they choose to. One begins by being honest about one’s religious background, beliefs, and opinions – but holding them where they are in the spirit’, not ‘out of the spirit’. After opening up to others, it’s important to hold yourself accountable. Remind yourself often not only that you exist, but also that you have power, and that you can be a force for good in the world.
Finally, it’s important to remember that your spiritual growth and direction will not happen overnight – or even overnight. Spiritual life isn’t some temporary phase that happens when we least expect it. Spiritual life is built on a foundation of truth, and while our hearts move towards different things, our core beliefs and thoughts remain the same. As we grow, our spiritual self will guide us into new territory and new arenas of spiritual development.
Finding Spiritual Direction
Finding spiritual direction and growth will require some work. It will require listening to your inner spirit and matching it to what you already know, as well as what you’re interested in learning. If you work with people who share your same interests and values, a relationship can develop that can become more than just work. People who experience spiritual growth often come into their own as insightful, creative thinkers, capable problem solvers, and open, loving people. Relationships are built on many levels, including emotionally, spiritually, and physically. You may find yourself inspired to help others in any way that you can – providing spiritual guidance, counselling, and services, is also a great way to grow and benefit from the experience.
When spiritual direction and growth are happening within your life, remember to be sure to celebrate them. Consider giving yourself a spiritual “check-up” to make sure that your goals and aspirations are on track and that your life is growing in the direction that you want it to go. Remember that each day will bring you new opportunities and challenges to expand your awareness. Be open to them and embrace them as an opportunity to grow. You’ll soon discover that you’re living a spiritual life, one that’s deeply connected to your higher purpose.