I believe that spirituality is a core part of our lives. By spirituality I don't mean just religion or God. Rather, I mean the place where a person feels a flow of vital energy and a connection with the mystery of life. That can be through nature, music, science, art, literature, community, family, or friends, or it can mean through God and/or a religious expression of faith. Usually it is a number of these together. Spiritual Direction is a process of coming to know the sources of a person's life energy and to strengthen that connection. The result can be a deep sense of joy, acceptance, peace, and serenity.
A person who greatly inspired me many years ago was Thomas Merton, a monk who deeply embraced both Christianity and Buddhism. That was an invitation for me to grow more into an accepting and open model of spirituality.
My work as a spiritual director comes out of my experience working with members of 12 Step programs who wanted to deepen their relationship with their higher power. I am deeply grateful to the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous for their inclusive decision to leave AA open to believers and nonbelievers alike. They found a way to have a spiritual fellowship without it being limited to one religious expression. That was a huge help to alcoholics and to persons everywhere who are seeking help with addictions and it is an inspiration to all of us on the planet who are trying to heal divisions between people of faith.
I have an especially deep experience with the traditions of Catholicism and Orthodoxy, especially in their approaches to prayer and contempation. I have worked with various mainline and evangelical Christians, Buddhists, and persons with an earth-centered spirituality. I have worked with persons who had no spiritual backgound at all and who were seeking a sense of innerconnectedness to the universe in a deep and sustaining way.
In spiritual direction, I often use the concepts of the Enneagram, a model for determining personality structure that defines ways to move toward deeper balance and insight about the self.
To those of you who are not spiritually inclined and who are not seeking any kind of spiritual counseling: Do not worry about my trying to turn you into a believer or a Christian or a Buddhist or anything you are not. I have no desire to get anyone to believe in any single spiritual path. Rather I am interested in helping persons find their own meaning and purpose. In my counseling practice, I have successfully worked with persons who were openly hostile to any concept of God or spirituality.
One last comment: the term "spiritual director" is unfortunate. It is an ancient term that comes to us from the early years of Christianity. It implies that the director directs the one being directed. No, actually, the spiritual director facilitates. In the Christian tradition, it is God who directs. If I had my way, I would change the term to spiritual counseling.