SPIRITUAL DIRECTION

"But the silence in the mind is when we live best, within listening distance of the silence we call God. This is the deep calling to deep of the Psalm-writer, the bottomless ocean." 

-R. S. Thomas                     

What is spiritual direction? 

Spiritual direction is a unique mentoring relationship in which a trained guide accompanies a person on some aspect of their spiritual journey, helping them to embody their inner convictions more faithfully and to strengthen the connection between their spiritual and their everyday lives. In the Celtic tradition, the spiritual director is referred to as an "Anam Cara" or "soul friend," someone who walks alongside you and listens deeply to reflect the presence of the Divine back to you in mind, heart, and body. 

 

What happens in spiritual direction? 

While the specific questions, approaches, and rhythms may vary from person to person, the overall process of spiritual direction will assist you in deepening your life through conversation, inquiry, listening, reflection, guided spiritual practices, and prayer.  Spiritual direction provides participants with the tools for discernment, which is the ancient art of learning to listen deeply for Divine guidance amidst all the other voices that we internalize from our families and culture. While spiritual direction addresses the complex intersection between our psychological, spiritual, physiological, and intellectual lives, it is important to understand that spiritual direction is not therapyThe purpose of spiritual direction is not to help you diagnose or solve problems, but to invite you onto a sacred path of reflection, insight, and spiritual awareness that can assist you no matter what you may be facing.

Areas of Interest & Specialization:

Calling & Vocational Discernment

Contemplative Spiritual Practices

Enneagram Work

Dream Interpretation

Anxiety Disorders & Spirituality

Spirituality through Creativity & the Arts

Theological Doubt & Religious Conversion

Recovery from Spiritual/Religious Abuse

An integrated approach to spiritual care:

My approach to spiritual direction is rooted in the contemplative Christian tradition and is informed by contemporary psychology, social theory, and a deep appreciation for religious & cultural diversity. I am fully LGBTQIA+ affirming, trauma-informed, and mindful of the unique struggles faced by those who have suffered from racial and economic injustice. My goal is to create a safe space in which people can wrestle with life's most perplexing questions while remaining open to the presence and movement of God in their lives. I believe that holistic spiritual direction and transformation incorporates both mind and body, addressing the inherent connections between our inward and outward lives. Accordingly, I seek to incorporate a variety of different modalities that encourage an embodied sense of spirituality and the sacred. My background as a musician and artist has deeply attuned me to the ways in which creative expression can serve as a vehicle for spiritual intuition and communication with the Divine, and so I also enjoy incorporating art, music, and movement into spiritual direction sessions when desired and appropriate. 

 

As a convert from secular agnosticism to Christianity, I am especially attuned to the questions and concerns of young people and those who consider themselves "spiritual but not religious." I also particularly enjoy working with people who have been in the church all their lives, but are only just now beginning to explore what a deeper relationship with God might look like.

Click below to learn about three tools that I have found especially helpful for spiritual growth:

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Spiritual & Professional Background

I am an ecumenical Christian, with a special appreciation for contemplative practice, desert monasticism, Celtic spirituality, liberation theology, feminism, womanism, Quaker simplicity, Eastern Orthodoxy, process thought, eco-theology, the Patristics, and a good well-rounded sense of humor. I grew up in the American South attending a variety of both Protestant and Catholic churches, and also took an early interest in Buddhism, Taoism, Neopaganism (Wicca), and Native American traditions. In 2005, I converted from secular agnosticism to Christianity after a life-changing encounter with the living God. Since 2009, I have been a member of the Episcopal Church, and my husband is an Episcopal priest. 

I received my M.Div. from Union Theological Seminary in New York City in 2014, where I was trained in depth psychology, Jungian archetypes, Ignatian spiritual exercises, Lectio divina (meditation on the Scriptures), discernment, and contemplative prayer. My undergraduate degree in communication studies also focused on interpersonal relationships, family systems, dialogue, and social psychology. I have done extensive research on the history and spirituality of labyrinths, and served for several years as assistant director and adjunct faculty at a NC-based Christian formation school that taught a variety of spiritual practices and vocational discernment tools including the examen, centering prayer, and the Enneagram. I have worked with the Enneagram, in particular, for over ten years, and have found it to be a powerful tool for spiritual growth, self-awareness, and healing interpersonal relationships. I am currently enrolled in the Certification for Spiritual Direction & Formation program at the University of Redlands.

 

I am grateful to have had the benefit of studying, worshipping, praying, and discerning God's presence alongside Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Quaker, Baptist, Evangelical, Pentecostal, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, and Buddhist teachers and students. I have also had the benefit of extensive international travel, with pilgrimages and research trips to a variety of sacred places both East and West, all of which has broadened the scope of my spiritual life by expanding my frameworks for appreciating the vast diversity of human culture, and the complex mystery of religious encounter.

Setting up a Session:

Spiritual direction sessions are typically about an hour long. Most people find a rhythm of meeting once a month to be satisfactory, but those who are in a place of intense spiritual questioning or in times of transition may find more regular meetings to be helpful. 

Individual spiritual direction ordinarily involves meeting in person, however due to COVID-19 safety restrictions, I am currently only offering spiritual direction online via Zoom or Skype. 

If you would like to set up an initial appointment, please click here to fill out an inquiry form

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©2021 by Kristen Leigh Mitchell