Spiritual Directors International

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Guest Author: 
Janice L. Lundy, DMin


When it comes to accessing inner calm, my "go to" practice has always been connecting with my breath. As a young yoga student, I was amazed at the power of breath to take my mind off current stressors and into bodily ease. Even with that, I had a sense that "something" was missing when it came to a breath practice.

Lamaze classes in my 20s and 30s helped me understand that physical and emotional well-being is restored with an out-breath. It wasn't about breathing in (as in, "Just take a deep breath," sage advice from well-meaning others in a moment of distress), but releasing the pent-up carbon dioxide in our lungs that caused tension. I remember very well the "he-he" panting breathing method used in natural childbirth classes. Another addition to my breath practice, but still feeling incomplete.

Guest Author: 
Mirabai Starr



At night on my bed I longed

for my only love.

I sought him, but did not find him.

I must rise and go about the city,

the narrow streets and squares, till I find

my only love.

I sought him everywhere

but I could not find him.

From The Song of Songs


Love-longing is one of the casualties of the Post Modern Age.  We seem to have come to some kind of corporate decision that relegates spiritual passion to the psychological trash basket of romantic delusion. It’s the same thing we say when two people fall in love: “She is infatuated with an idea,” we declare, “not a real person.”  (We learned this in Psych 101, and it explains a lot about our own history of romantic disasters.)  Or: “She is a blank screen onto which he projects his own hopes and dreams of love.  It has nothing to do with her.”  The conclusion of this line of reasoning is that one day the lovers will wake up, the scales will drop from their eyes, and they will see each other truly.  That, we assert, is when the real work of relationship begins.  And that’s when many lovers bail and bolt, only to run the same delusional story on someone else.

Maybe.  Or perhaps falling in love is more like what Leonard Cohen said in an interview I read in Interview Magazine while pumping my quads on the Stair-Stepper at the gym years ago.  It’s not falling in love that’s the illusion (I’m paraphrasing here); it’s falling out of love.  When that intoxicating feeling of awe and connectedness washes over us and penetrates our consciousness, that’s when the shroud lifts and we see that person for who she truly is: a being of exquisite beauty and pure goodness.  When we fall out of love, the veil drops once again over our eyes, and we stop seeing our beloved as the holy creature he is.

Guest Author: 
Catherine Tran

In a world broken by political divides, by cultural and racial tensions and by violence, it can be overwhelming just to engage with someone who holds opinions different than our own. We wrestle with daily interactions. We may find ourselves befuddled by those we struggle to relate to. Relationships and conversations can confound us.

On a long drive recently, I listened to a radio show about how to persuade others about political issues. The hosts were certain of their own political views so one underlying premise was that the opposing point of view was incomplete or in error. The hour was full of good suggestions for letting the other person speak and ways to explain your own views without being threatening. The hosts were even practical enough to suggest that the other person might not listen or be persuadable. But the question that went through my mind throughout the hour was why. Why should we persuade others to agree with us? Do we always need to win arguments or be right? Is it so bad to have differing opinions? I don’t think so. The world would boring if we all agreed on everything.

Guest Author: 
Rev. Wilfredo Benitez

Photo copyright: (c) Wilfredo Benitez

Many of us in the postmodern world recognize a yearning for spirituality, a longing for something that gives meaning to life.  Perhaps like never before, we live in an age of brilliant psychological insights and openness to spirituality.  There is a growing convergence between psychology and spirituality, something I’m convinced is an unavoidable phenomenon when exploring the deeper meaning of human life.  Dr. Carl Gustav Jung, the father of analytical psychology, established the foundation for this intersection between psychology and spirituality, and although there remains a lingering distrust of organized religion, the wealth of spirituality and wisdom contained in the world’s great religions, cannot be denied.   Book stores are replete with titles on spirituality, and yet most of these have no direct connection to organized religion.  There is a yearning out there, a search for deeper meaning; and yet many of those searching have turned away from organized religion.  Why?

Guest Author: 
Steven Crandell

The best mindfulness practice is always the one that can be done now.

So let’s go. Find the nearest door. Step outside. Find a tree. A tall one if you can. Full of autumn color. Don’t think. Just look up.

This is impromptu mindfulness. An adventure without an itinerary. A journey without a destination. Agile. Ad lib. Right now.

Watching those leaves at the top of the tree? Superb. How does it feel? The air on your face — is it cold? Your breath billows of steam? Did you forget your coat?

No worry. This mindfulness doesn't have to take long.

Guest Author: 
Tessi Mukrat Rickabaugh

I maintain a pretty active social media presence. As a spiritual director who works primarily with younger people, this is an important part of how I am being in the world. I share things which reflect the values I find to be important: beauty, empathy, love, contemplative presence. I also engage in conversations with people across the political, social and religious spectrum, working to bring these same values to those who might not experience them in their daily life or churches. 

Approaching conversations, on social media and in person, from a contemplative stance means that sometimes phrases or thoughts push themselves to the forefront, just as they do in spiritual direction sessions. The past few months, one of those phrases has asserted itself frequently, surfacing over and over in a wide variety of conversations.

"It doesn't matter how you feel about it."

Guest Author: 
Rev. Brenda Buckwell


I am a ballroom dancer.  The conversation between partners, the lead and the follow, is one of wordless articulation.  The lead initiates the story: go here, turn there, spin right then pause … and go. The follow listens intently with the entire body for nuances of inward expression to match the lead’s steps.

Spiritual direction follows a similar pattern. The dance of dialogue through storytelling and holy listening is breathtaking to behold.

Guest Author: 
Bruce Tallman


The beginning of an effective solution to events like the recent ones in Charlottesville and Barcelona might be found in listening to three contemporary wise men.

Guest Author: 
Tessi Muskrat Rickabaugh

I walked my first prayer labyrinth before I had ever heard of spiritual direction or contemplative spirituality or even mysticism. It was in a big, dimly-lit room at a youth workers' convention -a huge painted canvas spread across the floor, peppered with a variety of "stations" at which the walker could pause and engage with a question or concern around their role as a youth leader in their church. I remember one station still: an old-fashioned TV, the screen showing nothing but static, a pillow on the floor in front of it. This station invited us to sit and spend some time contemplating those things in our lives which might be creating ongoing "static", preventing us from "tuning into" God in the way we desired. 

Guest Author: 
Janice L. Lundy, DMin


Many years ago when I was training to be a spiritual director, the kindly Sister who led the program made it very clear to us that spiritual guidance over the telephone was not acceptable. More specifically, that good spiritual guidance could not happen unless two people were face-to-face and the “third chair” was physically present in the room.

Today, I know better and do offer spiritual guidance via Skype or over the telephone. I have found it to be a very useful modality benefitting some seekers, in some situations, but not all.  Without a doubt, it can have a providential outcome as I have experienced with seekers outside the U.S. (my home), homebound seekers, and those whose lives present varied and difficult circumstances in terms of travel, child-care needs, or work schedules. Grace can move through the ethers across telephone lines and satellite networks. Who are we to say it can’t?


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