Spiritual Directors International

The Home of Spiritual Companionship


Guest Author: 
Rev. Dr. Brenda Buckwell

Editor's note: Rev. Dr. Brenda Buckwell is a Christian spiritual director, life coach and educator. This is her strategy for building contemplative bridges between generations.

Is intergenerational spiritual formation possible in the 21st century?

Remember the phrase “It takes a village to raise a child?” Has the notion of village become lost in our contemporary culture? When I look around me, I see individuals struggling. People in the United States - where I make my home - pour out large amounts of energy striving to make ends meet while keeping stability in the household and completing daily to-do lists. Individualism looms as a dominant pattern for obtaining job satisfaction, self-worth, and bolstering a sense of accomplishment and knowledge through crowd-sourcing posted on social media. Often this preferred stance of the “self-made” person drives our personal seeking for God - or the ground of all being - overlooking generational wisdom.

Intergenerational faith formation has the potential to gift an individualized nation that is divided among race, socio-economic and political lines by creating villages. “Re-villaging” community creates opportunity for spiritual kinship to thrive through creativity, storytelling and mentoring. This leads to an embodied faith that is easily shared between generations and through stages of development.

Guest Author: 
Matt Whitney

Editor's note - Matt Whitney is an artist. If you've noticed the wonderful drawings in our publications, he's the one guiding the pencil. (There's one of his creations just below.) A true Renaissance man, Matt engages in many pursuits. As SDI's Visual Media and Technology Coordinator, he launched our podcast* this year. This post is his introduction to SDI Encounters, a free source of inspiration that we hope will become a gateway for people to discover spiritual companionship and share in our amazing community of listeners.

In my work at Spiritual Directors International (SDI) – I’m now recording and hosting a weekly podcast called SDI Encounters.

Guest Author: 
Janice Lundy, DMin

Editor's note: Jan Lundy and Jeanette Banashak will present our new 4-part webinar series "Spiritual Companionship for the Spiritually Independent" starting March 28, 2019. Here, she outlines her own journey to spiritual independence.

In recent years, I have come to claim myself as a “spiritually independent” person, not by birth, but by choice; someone who has followed her own “yellow brick road” to the divine. This has not been an easy path to walk especially when you’ve been raised and work in a conservatively Christian part of the world. Upon first meeting, a common query from people in my area is “Which church do you go to?”, for one is often identified by church or parish.

In the past when this question was asked, I’d predictably dodge it by saying, “I’m more of an ecumenical type person,” which would leave them nodding but confused. Because my spiritual life became eclectic and did not follow the unspoken “rules of belonging,” I took to hiding it; practicing and believing in a spiritual closet of my own making out of fear of being judged and found lacking. 

With spiritual maturity, I became braver, and when asked about my religious identity might say, “I have Christian roots and Buddhist wings.” But I revealed myself hesitantly, only to a select few, and not without anxiety.

Guest Author: 
SDI Journeys


With a history dating back to somewhere between 40,000 and 65,000 years, the Australian indigenous peoples represent the oldest continuing culture in the world.

The dream for this journey began several years ago with a conversation between Kristen Hobby and Diane Millis.  It was then that an idea formed to co-lead a journey to the Cairns area and to share with SDI members from around the globe, the wisdom, insights and gifts of the indigenous people. There is so much to be learned from them about living in harmony and modeling deep relationships with each other, the natural world and the transcendent.

Guest Author: 
Steven Crandell

Editor's note - If you wish, you may turn this blog-post into a practice. I call it the "Practice of Joy." It's straightforward, open-ended and it involves drinking your favorite hot beverage.

1) When you have some space and quiet, read the post below. 

2) Make you favorite hot drink. 

3) As you make it, give thanks -out-loud if possible - for everyone and everything that makes your hot drink possible. Use your imagination - sometimes I even thank the power company for the electricity to boil the water. 

4) After you pour your coffee or tea or whatever, but before you drink it, observe the steam rising from the cup. 

5) As you watch the tendrils of steam wend skyward and disappear , let go of each and every thought that comes to you - no matter how profound! Simply watch the steam rise and disappear.

6) When you're ready and the drink isn't too hot, close your eyes and take your first sip.

7) Taste it fully with eyes shut.

8) Open your eyes and watch the steam rise and disappear.

9) Close your eyes and take a sip, tasting fully.

10) Repeat until the drink is done.  Discern.

Blessings to you all. May you welcome love -- in yourselves, in the world around you and amongst you and all beings. 


It seems counter-intuitive to practice joy. Joy seems to move like a hummingbird, flitting where it will, bringing delight and then disappearing. Can we control the hummingbird? Doubtful. When we try, we usually just chase it away.

Yet, in my life, practice often grows the flowers that attract the hummingbird. When I was young, I practiced basketball for hour upon hour. Later, I wrote every day -- as an artistic practice. (Still do.) Now I also have a practice of praying morning and night to God and the ancestors as I seek to make my life one of service, healing and celebration.

Guest Author: 
Miriam Frey

Editor's note: Miriam Frey has been a spiritual director for 20 years and has deep experience in the training of spiritual companions. She is coordinator of  Ontario's Jubliee Program. She's also SDI's Canada Coordinator. We asked her to offer key guiding questions for people looking for a formation or training program. We recommend you give this blog post some time and focus. Read it. Discern on the questions that resonate with you. Then read it again. And if you are considering becoming a spiritual companion, please accept our deepest thanks. This calling offers a blend of contemplative practice and deep listening which can change the lives of individuals and through them, their relationships and their communities. As the saying goes.... "How do we change the world most profoundly? One person at a time." Blessings to you all. 


“How do I find a formation or training program?” This is a common question from those interested in serving as a spiritual companion or director. Others will ask, “How do I know if a program is right for me?”

Guest Author: 
Steven Crandell

Dear Spiritual Companions, Seekers and Friends,

 We don't want you to miss out on the chance to participate in our annual conference - Seeking Connection ~ Across Generations. Where else will you have the chance to connect with - and learn from - hundreds of other spiritual companions?

This post is for those of you who:

  • want to attend, but need more information before making a decision
  • want to make sure you're getting the lowest price, or
  • have a strong interest, but just don't have the budget.
Guest Author: 
Steven Crandell


Where does love come from?

What might we discover if we listen in stillness without expectation?

When is a good time to be generous?

To be curious?

To be kind?

How can we make space for that which arises from deep within and disrupts our assumptions and indeed our lives?


These are questions for living. Questions that arise from what a Zen Buddhist might call "beginner's mind" - fresh, open to learning, free from pre-conceptions.

Such questions can help orient our lives, can help spiritual companions support others to find profound connection.

Guest Author: 
Janice L. Lundy, DMin

"Shifting our identification from the ego to the heart-mind is the beginning of individual spiritual work."
~ Ram Dass, Be Love Now

A few years ago, I was blessed to have a private conversation with the yogic sage, Ram Dass, whose work has guided me for years. During our time together, we talked a great deal about the "heart-mind." For him, our spiritual health, as well as the well-being of our planet, are sourced in our ability to live through “the heart-mind.”

In the English language, we use the word "mind" all the time. Yet, in Eastern thought, it is often used to mean the consciousness that pervades everything. It is also used in the field of (Western) body/mind science to explain how consciousness may exist in every cell of the human body.

Of course, we know where the physical heart is, right in the center of our chest. But what if the heart, like the mind, pervaded our entire consciousness—every thought, every cell? And what if we could harness these two perceptions and marry them within our consciousness? What if we could perceive and interact with everything and everyone with our heart-mind?

Guest Author: 
Lisa Van Allen


This practice challenge comes from SDI member and SDI webinar presenter Lisa Van Allen. She lives with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS,) a chronic condition that afflicts people with severe and relentless pain. (She's says she's not brave, but I, like others, admire her.) I share this practice here so all may benefit from her approach to embracing resilience in a time of intense and perseverating difficulty. (Lisa's original Facebook post is below for context.) I am grateful to Lisa for her permission to share it with our community. Sending you love, Lisa - Steven Crandell, SDI Content Director

Use this practice at any time, in any place, no matter how hectic or stressful or painful life is. It will help you towards balance. It will help you welcome the love that arises naturally within us. The practice is simple, but not always easy to follow. Don't chastise yourself for getting distracted. Always forgive yourself. If you feel you have lost your way and are overwhelmed with negativity, that's the perfect time to try this. Or to try it again.


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