What is a spiritual direction session like?
Good question! Often when I am first talking with people about spiritual direction, this is a question that arises. What does a session ‘look like’? What happens when we’re together?
I often begin by saying a spiritual direction session ‘looks’ something like a psychotherapy session in these ways:
- it is a one-on-one conversation
- we generally meet for one hour*
- there is a fee that is paid for the time together
- all that is shared is held in confidence
It is not unusual for a person in spiritual direction (directee) to also be working with a psychotherapist. While the format and framework might be similar between psychotherapy and spiritual direction, the intent and design of the sessions are different.
Spiritual direction sessions are intended and designed to follow the leading of Spirit. This can be manifest in a variety of ways. We usually begin with silence, inviting ourselves to be attentive to the present moment. This can also be a time of slowing down from the, often, frantic pace of life, to breathe deeply, and to acknowledge the participation of God/Holy Love/Divine Presence.
Often the directee will share experiences that are calling his or her attention. Many times we will pause after some sharing to notice what might be arising from within. A guiding understanding is that the directee already has Holy Wisdom within, and that our shared intention is to listen for it. As spiritual director, I am paying to attention to where I notice freedom and aliveness in the words, actions, and spirit of the directee, trusting this is a place where she or he feels fully herself/himself, able to connect to deep truth and wholeness.
Sometimes, I will invite consideration of a spiritual practice or a resource that I believe will support the directee’s spiritual journey. As spiritual direction itself is an ancient practice, so also is there a rich storehouse of spiritual practices and resources that have been used by spiritual seekers for generations.
As the session draws to a close, we enter silence again, allowing some time to gather in all that has been shared, and to become aware of ideas, images, and themes the directee wants to reflect on going forward. We close in prayer – sometimes just me praying, sometimes each of us praying as Spirit guides us. Before we part, we schedule a time to meet again – usually in a month, though more or less often as need and intention inform us.
It is important to note that the process and approach to spiritual direction is unique to the one offering spiritual direction, and that the experience might be different with other spiritual directors. (More about this in an upcoming post).
*Most often, I meet with directees in person. However, more and more people are asking to meet by phone or Zoom, and this can offer more flexibility in time and resources.
“This God with whom we have to do, this God whose thoughts are not our thoughts, claims from us, I believe not static and confident belief but active and humble attention.”–Marilynne Robinson