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What is Spiritual Direction?

Spiritual direction is a unique one-to-one relationship that explores the spiritual aspect of being human.


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What is a spiritual director?

A spiritual director is a privileged witness in the spiritual unfolding of another person. The focus is on the relationship between the “directee” and God, rather than on the relationship between the director and directee.

What happens in spiritual direction?

People experience and respond to God/Spirit, or the Divine, in different ways. This is influenced in part by their life experience, their personality, and their cultural and religious backgrounds. The focus of spiritual direction is discerning the movement of the Spirit in the life of the “directee.”

Spiritual directors listen carefully to the unfolding of their directees’ lives to help them discern how the Divine is leading them. A director and directee have regular one-on-one meetings (usually about an hour, once a month) to more deeply explore the directee’s spiritual journey.

The term spiritual direction has a long, rich history, and it is still used today, even though the practice of spiritual direction consists much more of “holy listening,” rather than “direction” in the sense of offering guidance or direct advice.

What does spiritual direction offer?

Liz Budd Ellmann of Spiritual Directors International explains it this way:

Spiritual direction explores a deeper relationship with the spiritual aspect of being human. Simply put, spiritual direction is helping people tell their sacred stories everyday. Spiritual direction has emerged in many contexts using language specific to particular cultural and spiritual traditions. Describing spiritual direction requires putting words to a process of fostering a transcendent experience that lies beyond all names and yet the experience longs to be articulated and made concrete in everyday living. It is easier to describe what spiritual direction does than what spiritual direction is. Spiritual direction helps us learn how to live in peace, with compassion, promoting justice, as humble servants of that which lies beyond all names.


Are you looking for a spiritual director?

In southern or central California, Stillpoint can refer you to a trained spiritual director, selected according to your own discerned needs and preferences. To explore the possibility without commitment, please fill out our inquiry form.

If you are in a geographical area other than southern or central California, you may want to consult Spiritual Directors International.

Are you a Holy Listener?

If being a spiritual companion for others sounds like something you might be called to do, and/or something you already do in one form or another, we offer a two-year formation program in The Art of Spiritual Direction to help you discern your calling and hone your gifts in holy listening.

Simply put, spiritual direction is helping people tell their sacred stories everyday.
— Liz Budd Ellmann