Before getting to the practical tips, I thought it might be helpful to share some general notes about spiritual direction.
Perhaps we are discerning our vocation or another big life choice, and we decided to go for some spiritual direction. [Here are some suggestions how to find a spiritual director.] After we have found a director and set up an appointment, what should we expect?
First of all, we remember that our true Spiritual Director is Jesus himself. The person we are seeing for spiritual direction is helping us recognize Christ’s direction and invitations in our life. A spiritual director is trained to listen, to accompany us on our spiritual journey, and to help us recognize God’s invitations in our prayer and in our life.
Secondly, in our first meeting, we want to look for a certain affinity between our spiritual director and ourselves. When we meet for spiritual direction for the first time, we want to notice how we feel, especially if we feel fairly comfortable talking honestly with the director. (It’s natural when speaking with a spiritual director for the first couple times, to feel a bit uncomfortable simply because we don’t know the director yet.) After the session, we can consider if we felt understood and validated in presenting our experience. The spiritual director should understand where we are on our spiritual journey and we should feel that we are able to trust him or her. If we find ourselves holding back from what we wanted to talk about out of fear, or feel misunderstood, or something feels “off,” we can still have a helpful session, but we may wish to try another spiritual director in the future. Sometimes it takes two or three meetings for us to recognize whether or not a spiritual director is a “good fit” for us. This is normal, and the spiritual director will expect us to evaluate our experience with them.
Thirdly, spiritual directors usually support themselves and their families (or their communities if they are religious) with their spiritual direction. When we set up the appointment, it is helpful to ask the spiritual director what their stipend is. If we forget to ask about a stipend before we meet, we will want to make sure we do so at our first meeting.
Next, I’ll post some tips on how to make the most of spiritual direction.