Spiritual Directors International

The Home of Spiritual Companionship


Guest Author: 
Alex Moore

For the better part of my life, I was a tried and true skeptic. I inherited my astute atheism on my father’s side of the family and my difficult childhood turned me into a full-blown cynical nihilist. For me, the world was a bland and robotic exchange of pleasantries. By the time I turned 18, I saw human interaction as an endless string of small talk that I had to put up with until the day I died.

Dealing with My Mental Illness

Simply put, I was lost. Oddly enough, my revelation came to me at a very strange and unexpected time in my life. I was 25 years old and dealing with the acute stage of schizophrenia. I didn’t even realize there was something this deeply wrong with me up to this point. Mental illness is funny like that.

It was a day like any other, not particularly memorable but not too glum either. I was at home watching the news, when all of a sudden, the world felt off. I can’t begin to explain that dreaded feeling, but if you went through it, you will know exactly what I mean.

And then the hallucinations started, and I experienced my first major psychotic break.

Guest Author: 
Janice L. Lundy, DMin


"To find one’s center—to become centered in the Infinite --
is the first great essential of every satisfactory life.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

The world is not an easy place in which to live. There seems to be danger and trouble everywhere. The human mind is not an easy place to live either! Even when things seem good in our ordinary lives, the activity of our mind can easily slide us into fear, worry or anxiety.

Guest Author: 
Karen Lee Erlichman, D.Min, LCSW

The Unbroken

There is a brokenness
out of which comes the unbroken
a shatteredness out of which blooms the unshatterable.
There is a sorrow
beyond all grief which leads to joy
and a fragility
out of whose depths emerges strength.

There is a hollow space
too vast for words
through which we pass with each loss,
out of which darkness we are sanctioned into being.
There is a cry deeper than all sound
whose serrated edges cut the heart
as we break open
to the place inside
which is unbreakable
and whole,
while learning to sing.



The journey toward wholeness invites us into a compassionate relationship with our own brokenness. Being in community creates a sacred space in which we can tenderly hold this paradox together. Poet, artist and activist Rashani writes in the above poem, we “break open to the place inside which is unbreakable and whole.”

Years ago, in my first experience with a Circle of Trust ®, I found a community in which my soul felt safe enough to reveal (to myself and others) the textures and terrains of my own brokenness. Over the years of participating in, and later facilitating, Circles of Trust ® and other retreats, this breaking through of true soul/self has yielded a profound experience of healing into wholeness.

Guest Author: 
Jennifer Olin-Hitt

It’s not uncommon for Americans in our 21st century to find their way to a mental health clinic. In the U.S. today, according to the DSM-5, 46% of adults are likely to develop a diagnosable mental disorder.  There are a variety of reasons for the statistics: economic stressors, environmental challenges, inadequate social resources, and often, simply a greater awareness of and the reporting of diagnoses.  For the millions of people affected by mental health disorders – depression, anxiety, personality disorders, etc. – mental health professionals provide relief and hope. Psychiatrists, counselors, marriage and family therapists are important resources, contributing greatly to the well-being of society.

Not all intrapersonal suffering can be summed up in a diagnosis, however.  The human condition is filled with moments and seasons of struggle that are not categorized neatly in a mental health textbook. Loss can lead to deep grief.  Ethical dilemmas in the workplace can open up great turmoil of conscience. We become angry at our loved ones. We can act in ways that we regret. Mid-life can bring questions of meaning. Children challenge our values. Some of us wake up in the night with questions of existence: what is my purpose? Is there life beyond this life?  For questions and moments such as these, the struggling person may turn to a spiritual director. What follows is a brief overview of spiritual direction as well as some ways that spiritual direction intersects with mental health therapy.

Guest Author: 
Valerie Brown, JD, MA, PCC


Editor's note:  A remarkable SDI spiritual journey unfolds in Ghost Ranch, New Mexico in November, 2019. As Valerie will be leading the retreat, I asked her to briefly try to capture the essence (and the opportunity) this remarkable area presents. Carol Kortsch will co-lead the retreat with Valerie.

Sacred, spiritual, deeply inspirational places have voices. They say:  ‘Pause, notice,  breathe.’ They pull us out of mundane preoccupations and into timelessness, awe, and wonder.  Sometimes they are stripped down, elemental landscapes, where we feel an immediate connection with the land and with Spirit.  From time immemorial, people have journeyed to these places to pray, to be, to be transformed from the inside out.

I came to Ghost Ranch, 21,000 acres of wilderness in northern New Mexico, in the United States, in the summer of 1978.  I tooled around Albuquerque on the back of my boyfriend’s motorcycle, exploring Santa Fe, Taos, and surroundings and came upon the red rocks and the painted desert of Ghost Ranch made famous by the iconic American painter, Georgia O’Keeffe.   The ranch touched a spark, something inexpressible within me.  I remember feeling an internal shift and stripping away of everything except the land, an intimacy with nature—down to bare essentials.

Guest Author: 
Jance L Lundy, DMin


"And we are put on earth a little space, that we may learn to bear the beams of love."
~William Blake


 "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

Did you know that the "Golden Rule" is found in many of the world's wisdom traditions? And because it is, we are invited to regard it not just as religious dogma, but deep and lasting perennial wisdom. Here are some of  the various ways it is expressed:

Guest Author: 
Jeanette Banashak, Phd, EdD

No matter how, where, when, or by whom we were raised, scholars agree that there are 5 emotions that we all have in common: enjoyment, sadness, disgust, fear, and anger. As a spiritual guide, I am constantly looking and listening for clues that help me understand what a seeker is feeling. At the same time, I am listening for clues in myself that let me know what I am feeling.

This self-listening and self-awareness grows as I learn which emotions and conscious feelings I am experiencing in any given moment.

Guest Author: 
Imam Jamal Rahman

A question I am often asked is, "What is a Sufi?" Sufis are Muslims who emphasize essence over form and substance over appearance in their spiritual practices.

If the institution of religion can be compared to a cup and the water in it is the spiritual message, Sufis lament that we spend too much time polishing the outside of the cup and neglect to drink the water.

They do subscribe to outer rituals, but are mostly eager to do the inner work. They aspire to taste and live the essence of their faith. To give an example of the Sufi approach to teachings, a conservative Islamic theologian might say that a Muslim who does not perform the five cycles of daily prayers will suffer punishment in the hereafter. A Sufi teacher, on the other hand, will liken prayers to attendance at celestial banquets. A practitioner who fails to pray is missing out on the joy of the feast. That loss is the punishment.

Guest Author: 
Steven Crandell


Try following these steps.

Let me know how it goes for you in the comments.

  1. Cultivate stillness.
  2. In that stillness acknowledge whatever pain, hurt, doubt, vulnerability, fear or other negativity you feel.
  3. Watch yourself and notice if you fall deeper into shadow by judging/blaming yourself or others - but do not judge your judging. Simply accept it. If possible, say aloud what you acknowledge. For example, "I know I am feeling vulnerable/anger/fearful because ... I feel I failed at work, or my spouse yelled at me, or my child wouldn't follow my instructions" -- whatever expresses your present feeling.
  4.  Discern. Use the same patience you would offer a person you companion -- witness what truth arises.
  5.  Consider asking this shadow self to dance, so you might know it better ... and then, when you are ready, let go of this shadow and end the dance.
  6.  If appropriate, say thanks for the dance, even though (and especially) you will be thanking whatever negativity you acknowledged.
  7.  Discern over the irony that it is often easier to release what you have first acknowledged and held.
Guest Author: 
Janice L, Lundy, DMin


In recent months, Spiritual Directors International has provided much for us to think about in terms of “Welcoming the Stranger". When I hold this invitation in my heart, the passage that Rumi offered to us in the 13th century still rings true:  Indeed, each “one” who crosses our path is nobody other than a unique and marvelously made manifestation of the divine. Who knows what opportunities for growth might come from our meeting?

And, yet, my heart also knows that on a deeper level we are not strangers at all. This knowing comes when I am able to connect with someone on an “interspiritual” level. What do I mean by this?

In his landmark work, The Mystic Heart: Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World’s Traditions, Br. Wayne Teasdale explained interspirituality as “the sharing of ultimate experience across traditions.”


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