KEY CONCEPTS

In the Tao te Ching, Lao Tsu describes the sacred as the “Mystery of mysteries, the door to all wonders.” This reality cannot be captured in words.

However, words can be useful as pointers to deeper dimensions of our day-to-day experience.

Following are some terms and distinctions that I find helpful. Perhaps some of them will resonate with you. If so, we can explore them in more detail when we meet.

Compassionate listening

Compassionate listening is being fully present to another person without judgment.

During a compassionate listening session there is little to no back-and-forth discussion, advice, or suggestions for taking action. There is only you, being heard.

Please know that what you have to say matters to me. Your feelings count. You are supported and cared for.

My intent is to listen to you deeply and attentively. I will let you know that I’m hearing you and following along by acknowledging you with a nod of my head.

Sometimes I ask questions for my own clarification, or to deepen your reflection. If you ask for more direct feedback, I will provide that.

Contemplation

Contemplation is bringing your awareness to the present moment and being willing to notice any experience that arises. This practice is one way of opening up to ultimate reality — whether you call it God, the sacred, your higher power, or something else.

Sometimes contemplation is called non-conceptual awareness, practicing presence, or simply meditation. These tend to be process-based: The direction of your journey matters more than any particular destination.

Enneagram

The Enneagram (pronounced ANY-a-Gram) is about people — how they are alike and how they are different, what drives them, where they place their attention and energy, and how they relate to one another.

This profound psychological and spiritual system reveals nine different points of view and nine ways of living in the world. These are visually mapped by the nine points of the Enneagram symbol.

The Enneagram is a useful tool for expanding our awareness of individual differences. People in all settings can use this tool to harness strengths, shore up weaknesses, and collaborate more effectively.

Today the Enneagram is used by individuals, groups, coaches, therapists, educators, business managers, consultants, and clergy to improve communication and relationships.

My personal journey with the Enneagram began 30 years ago. The Enneagram really helped me understand the mask I wore — not only to protect myself in relationships but also to get ahead.

Many people take the Enneagram as a kind of evaluation or test. They come to identify with a certain number and believe that it says everything about them. This is not a helpful use of the Enneagram. This tool exists to promote insight and growth — not to assign you to a fixed category.

You can learn more about the Enneagram from the Enneagram Institute.

Ministry of presence

I like to refer to what I do as the ministry of presence. I hope that the time we spend together will help you stay mindful, deepen your personal relationship with your higher power, and become more attuned to nature.

The essence of spiritual growth is cultivating presence so that we can be more receptive to the sacred. As you share your story with me, we simply focus on being at ease with the present moment.

Spiritual friendship

Spiritual direction has much in common with notions of spiritual friendship and spiritual companionship. Many traditions emphasize this form of human relationship and its role in a spiritual path.

For example, Buddhists speak of their sangha or community of “admirable friends” who practice meditation together.

Christians sometimes speak of koinonia. This is a Greek word that describes the presence of the Holy Spirit in a group of people.

The Sufi poet Rumi dedicated many of his writings to an inseparable companion, Shams of Tabriz. And the anamcara or soul friend is central to the Celtic tradition.

Spiritual safety

Some people want spiritual direction but have a kind of “allergic reaction” to traditional religious language. Their experience of religion includes the language of obligation — beliefs that they must adopt or practices that they should do.

I honor all ways of experiencing and speaking about the sacred — religious, secular, or anything in between. I will not impose any system of beliefs or practices on you. You are safe from any musts, shoulds, and have-to’s during our time together.

To learn more, call me at 612–210–4625.  I welcome your contact.