Of the many needs we have as human beings, the one that brings us the most inner tranquility is sharing who we are, how we feel, what we are thinking, and what we are discovering about ourselves. We all need a sacred Witness in life, a person who can listen without judgment while knowing the right questions to ask that continually illuminate our path.
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Overview of Pebbles in the Well
Of the many needs we have as human beings, the one that brings us the most inner tranquility is sharing who we are, how we feel, what we are thinking, and what we are discovering about ourselves. We all need a sacred Witness in life, a person who can listen without judgment while knowing the right questions to ask that continually illuminate our path. We need this quality of deep sharing with another person because through such dialogue, we witness our own maturity through the years, we grapple with our own wounds, we cleanse ourselves of wrong-doings, we dig more carefully into the hidden resources in our nature, we muse over feelings that take us by surprise, we walk with a companion through labyrinths of dark confusion, we confront great questions about the meaning and purpose of our life and we examine what it is we believe to be true about the Sacred. This quality of dialogue is what takes place in Spiritual Direction.
Through Spiritual Direction, you enter into this quality of dialogue with the intent of letting the spirit within you “reveal to you” the story you are living that is your life. We experience our lives physically. We think about and rationalize the dynamics of our lives mentally. We process everything emotionally and psychologically. But it is the spirit within us that holds the key to the significant questions of life:
- What is my purpose?
- Why am I struggling with this issue?
- Why is love so difficult for me?
- What should I do next?
- How do I heal?
I often enter into a dialogue with people on my radio show or at my workshops as if I were a spiritual director. The techniques and intention behind Spiritual Direction are very specific: I ask questions that are aimed at helping a person to speak more deeply about their topic or I ask them if they would like to speak a few more minutes about something curious they just said. Or I can recognize what should be asked in order for a person to get a stuck door open, so to speak. Amazingly the right spiritual question is enough to offer a person a portal to resolution.
For example, a woman described a conflict about not having her husband’s daughter come over for his birthday because she refused to come to their wedding, which was three years ago. I asked her why we were talking about this, since she had apparently already made the decision reason.
She said, “Well, it’s the right thing to do.”
“What’s the right thing to do?” I asked. “Usually people don’t have conflicts with the right thing to do, so what’s the right thing to do?”
She hesitated for a moment and then said, “I keep getting this feeling that she wants to call her dad but she’s just too proud, so I should just arrange it. I should tell her to come on over for dinner, but then I remember what she said about us when we got married and I think, ‘the hell with her’.”
This is a classic spiritual dilemma: pride versus the healing way of the spirit. The role of spiritual direction is to listen, to ask the questions that can assist someone in reflecting more deeply on the matter at hand, but never direct the person back into the problem. She was asking me to push her without telling her what to do, so I asked her, “Well, think about this – which one of those decisions do you think you can live with more easily for the next five years?”
She smiled and said, “Right. Got it. I’ll make the call.”
Spiritual Direction is the art of assisting a person in articulating a truth that is already bubbling up within them, longing to be realized. The spirit within you always moves you toward reconciliation, healing, wisdom, courage, and love.
You may be wondering, “But what exactly is my spirit? How do I know what my spirit really is?” You know more than you realize. Your spirit is that part of you that is ever-consistent, ever-present to you, even in the voice of inner conflict and stress. Why? Your spirit is a truth vessel and like the bow of a ship, it is continually guiding you back to center through the worst storms and the darkest of nights. For example:
- Your spirit is often the source of your most tumultuous inner sufferings when you are participating in actions that are harmful to yourself or others.
- Your spirit becomes restless when you need to “take up your bed and walk”, perhaps into a new opportunity, a new life direction or out of a dysfunctional situation.
- Your spirit becomes vibrationally “high” when suddenly inspired, signaling the need to take immediate notice that a vision has entered into your consciousness.
- Your spirit becomes “feverish” near evil.
- And your spirit is that part of you that is compelled to seek an experience of awe, of true sacredness – to hear God call you by name.
We will reflect on many more examples in this new series, but these are some of the more common ones of how your spirit “speaks” to you. Spiritual Direction is the choice to establish a connection with your inner thread to the Divine and to then seek counsel through conversation, prayer and reflection on how to absorb that inner truth going forward in your life. Guidance flows continually in our life, as every decision is understood to be a profound act of creation. How we make each decision and why we make the choices we do in life matters to others and to the quality of life we are living. Nothing about our life or the life of another person is insignificant.
What Spiritual Direction is not is therapy and that is a distinction that needs to be made. It is not a technique for processing wounds or dilemmas from the past. As essential as therapy is to a person’s healing effort in life, Spiritual Direction seeks to give voice to aspects of you that also need a forum. It is a present time approach of listening for inner instruction about who you are now, what directives are speaking to you now, discovering what it is you believe – or don’t believe – deep within yourself. Spiritual Direction is an exploration into what has meaning and purpose for you and why. This is also the channel through which a person is able to recognize that he or she is in a spiritual or even a moral or ethical crisis, or even a confrontation with evil. Crises of the soul are as real as physical or psychological sufferings.
This Reflections Series
I have organized this six-part Reflections series on Spiritual Direction to be as personal a class as I can. My intention is to speak to you as if I were your spiritual director, introducing you to how to establish an inner dialogue with your spirit and how we would proceed from that point if we had a one-on-one spiritual director-directee relationship.
Every class will begin with a lecture on expanding your understanding of your interior self as well as the nature of contemplation and personal reflection and guidance. Then I will present questions for self-examination, first discussing the importance of each question and then offering examples of how each question might apply to your life. I will provide you will personal exercises to do between classes via journaling, as well as suggested readings.
Finally, let me say that Spiritual Direction is a form of sacred dialogue that can be found in all traditions. It is not, in other words, Catholic or Christian. Every single person is in need of another person with whom he or she can speak “truth” or go to when that individual has lost the capacity to even identify the truth in one’s own life.
Spiritual Direction is a way of keeping your finger on your own pulse, your own moral conscience, your own integrity, and your own calling in this lifetime. This is not an easy world to live in. It is one filled with chaos and vague rules. We are the ones in charge of ourselves for the most part. But regardless of how chaotic or technical or sophisticated a world we live in, we cannot change our basic nature. We thrive on truth and we disintegrate when we live a life of betrayal, especially to our own being.
Spiritual Direction is a way to speak truth again.
In closing, I can truthfully say that adding another six weeks to this seminar would be effortless. I encourage all of you to participate in the full six-week course, as I have designed it to be a bit of a spiritual cocoon where we gather once a week to delve into all matters sacred and holy to your life.
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Spiritual Direction I:
Pebbles in the Well
Pebbles in the Well
This first session focuses on establishing a connection between us as a spiritual director-directee; I will also lay the groundwork for you to enter into a conscious dialogue with your spirit. We will also explore a “way of being” in the world that is anchored in present time as a part of initiating a new spiritual practice into your life. And we will examine our first series of life-changing questions, including a discussion of why these questions hold the potential to redirect the course of your life.
This lecture will highlight:
- Identifying the sound/voice of your spirit.
- Essential insights into human nature: What draws me to the Sacred?
- What are my essential spiritual needs?
- Is there something unfolding in me today?
- How to begin a dialogue and questions for personal reflection time.
- The practice of contemplation in a busy world.
Everything Has Meaning and Purpose
A life without meaning and purpose is one lived as nothing more than a feather at the mercy of the wind. You have no anchor. You have no roots. Experiencing the joy of investing your life force in an idea that inspires you or in long-term relationships with family and friends is doubly challenging because you can’t find a reason to hang on through the inevitable rough times. And you fear being loved deeply by others or you find it difficult to recognize love coming toward – and more importantly – into your being. Exactly what holds meaning and purpose for each person varies; that is like a secret that one’s spirit gradually reveals once your inner being recognizes you’ve come to the place in your life at which the answer actually matters to how you will live the rest of your life – and sometimes if a person will live the rest of his or her life.
This lecture will include:
- A Spiritual Principle: If it exists, it has purpose.
- A Spiritual Principle: So long as I exist, I have purpose.
- What is the size of my world? Who is in my world?
- What is insignificant to me?
- How am I defining “meaning and purpose”? Is it a mental concept for me? Is it filling an empty emotional space?
- How does my inner spirit understand the “meaning and purpose” of my life?
- Am I strong enough to be invisible?
- Is something unfolding in me today?
Your Spirit and Power
Power is the fundamental ingredient of the human experience. Everything we believe in and every choice we make and every action we initiate is a negotiation of power. The experience of life is, in fact, a theater of creation in which we set energy into countless acts of creation through how we interpret the world around us. When we feel powerless, we make powerless choices. When we feel empowered, we are in a position to make empowered choices. Every choice we make begins with us first referring to our inner sense of power and whether we perceive ourselves as safe, as victimized, as victorious, as respected, as loved, as alone, as abused, as entitled….as something. True power lies in taking control of your perceptions and your capacity to control the illusions commanding your spirit.
This lecture will emphasize:
- What is self-inflicted suffering for me?
- What is true inner power for me?
- On the nature of discernment: How do I decide what has power for me? What disempowers me? What is true? What is false? What is real?
- What choices do I make that elevate me off the Earth? When have I felt liberated? Transcendent?
- Would I welcome a wild, mystical experience?
- If I heard an inner command, am I free enough to act?
Do I Know What I Believe?
Your spirit is never silent, never quiet. The nature of the spirit is to always process the ideas and perceptions you absorb into your mind and heart and to transmit feedback to you as to their “truth value”. A message hits your gut that says, “That doesn’t sound right to me at all,” or a feeling swells in your heart, assuring you that, “I know this person is telling me the truth.” Your inner response system with its laser sharp accuracy is pure spirit in action, as your spirit is a vessel that thrives on truth and conversely recognizes the darkness of deceit and deception immediately. We not only recognize truth and deceit in others but we are even more on target with ourselves. How could we not be? What happens when we are not true to ourselves? What happens when we don’t like or are afraid of the intuitive messages or spiritual guidance we are receiving? And what happens when we do like the guidance we are receiving?
This lecture will highlight:
- Am I clear about my values?
- What do I believe is true about life?
- Is there evil in the world?
- Do I nurture beliefs in me that are not true?
- Having faith in fear.
- Confrontations of conscience.
- Self-deception and illness – can your spirit become “ill”?
- Becoming clear at last
Courage, Wisdom, and Compassion in Everyday Life
Courage or Fortitude, Wisdom, Compassion and Endurance are considered graces because their force within the human spirit gives a person the capacity to endure or act with strength that even surprises the individual. These graces were named as essential to the Jewish Tree of Life. They are, in other words, a given part of the characteristics we must hone in ourselves but it is up to each of us to recognize their value. It is a choice to awaken the graces in you. It is a powerful choice that is actually a prayer, like saying, “I want to live in a field of grace.” Such a decision would change everything in your life in all ways you cannot see but in every way you can perceive.
This lecture will include:
- The role of a moral conscience: What do I see when I open my eyes?
- Do I seek truth in my life in all ways?
- Do I recognize my spirit calling me to take action in my world?
- What guidance is unfolding in my life at present?
Dark Nights and Bright Days
The dark night of the soul is an inevitable experience in a person’s life. It is a passage of profound initiation, a rigorous breaking down of the forces that hold together our need for life to be reasonable, orderly, fair, and logical – everything life can never really be for most people. The dark night is a fight to the finish, a bending until there is a breakthrough. Like the addict that is broken and retrieved through treatment, brighter days are the promised end for travelers through the dark night. And all the while, your spirit speaks to you, even through the most difficult of times.
This lecture will emphasize:
- How the spirit speaks to you at night.
- Passages and cycles.
- Into the Light.
- Emerging power and personal transformation.
- Dream dialogue.
- The wonderment and spontaneity of your spirit.
About Caroline Myss
Caroline Myss is a five-time New York Times bestselling author and internationally renowned speaker in the fields of human consciousness, spirituality and mysticism, health, energy medicine, and the science of medical intuition. Caroline established her own educational institute in 2003, CMED (Caroline Myss Education), which offers a diverse array of programs devoted to personal development and draws students from all over the world. In addition to her written work, Caroline maintains a rigorous international workshop and lecture schedule and has produced more than eighty audio/visual products on subjects that include healing, spirituality, personal development, and the study of archetypes.