Contemplative Group Spiritual Direction


Every week participants in our interfaith School for Contemplative Living gather for contemplative practice and faith sharing. What happened today is a good example of a typical day in the life. Eight of us gathered for a sacred yoga experience this morning, combining meditative music with gentle hatha yoga postures and spoken guidance about learning to “stand on the ground of our own soul, where we are not a tenant, where we are at home,” (from Celtic poet John O’Donohue in Anam Cara).

After an hour of oneing our mind/body/spirits in yoga, we gathered chairs in a circle as three other people joined us for a brief period of centering prayer. We formed a “Circle of Trust,” drawn from Parker Palmer’s book: A Hidden Wholeness. Mary facilitated us with the reminder that we are there to listen to our own souls by reading a poem, what Parker Palmer calls a “third thing,” and discerning how it speaks to our lives.

We came out of the silence with a first reading of the poem. Then another person voiced the poem as we all read the words, listening for some resonance with the ears of our souls. So when someone began to speak a line and what it was saying to them, the guidance was to listen to them without commentary and for sure without advice. Each person there is seeking to connect with their own soul, not to act like the spiritual expert for others.

As we ended, several of the newer participants said they had not experienced that quality of non-judgmental acceptance of their unique spiritual journeys before. They had found it delightful, enriching, and invigorating. We agreed that the world is full of polarizing debates over who is “right” and sorely lacking in these kinds of safe places for the soul to show herself.

With that we ended a morning in the life of our School together, living our mission of “practicing the presence of God for personal transformation and radical engagement with the world.”

For more stories like this see Monks in the World: Seeking God in a Frantic Culture.


About soulcare4u

I am the author of Monks in the World: Seeking God in a Frantic World, published by Wipf & Stock and available through; and of a blog on, "A Contemplative Path." I serve as the founding spiritual director of The School for Contemplative Living (, adjunct faculty of Loyola University, and as a pastoral counselor and spiritual director in private practice.
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