Although tricky to define it seems to me that spirituality is that which gives meaning, purpose and value to life. It may or may not involve a supreme being. Though it is at the heart of every religion it may be experienced without a formal structure. It is sustained through meditation or prayer and finds its expression in the service of others and in the development of moral character.
At its best spirituality gives us a sense of who we are and of our intrinsic self-worth. It is a path of joy leading us to care for others and ourselves.
- Spiritual Counselling
However, every quality has its distortions and shadow side. Spirituality is no exception. We may abuse our spiritual practice to zone out of the world instead of facing up to its challenges and suffer a loss of energy and focus as a result. We may find ourselves in a community of like-minded people who exert a subtle pressure on us to conform to a group norm. We may get caught up in what Richard Rohr calls 'a worthiness contest' and so suffer a sense of never being good enough, however hard we try. Religious authorities may have inculcated in us an inappropriate sense of shame or guilt. For those whose unease may be subtle or hard to name, it can be especially difficult to separate the baby from the bathwater since on the surface all may appear fine, while underneath there is damage pressing for healing. More obviously we may have been subjected to physical or sexual abuse. In any of these ways our sense of self can be damaged.
To discern what is life-affirming in a tradition and to discard the rest, therefore, is to discover our unique spiritual path and the joy that goes with it. This is where the sensitive listening and guidance of an experienced counsellor can help."Religions have always stressed that compassion is not only central to religious life, it is the key to enlightenment and it is the true test of spirituality. But there have always been those who'd rather put up easier goals, like doctrine conformity, in their place." Karen Armstrong
- Spiritual Direction
Spiritual Direction is a related discipline to counselling but explicitly concentrates on discerning where God is working in a person’s life. It may include understanding the damage that religious institutions or unhealthy forms of spirituality have done to a person, but that is not its primary focus.
Please note that I only offer this service from a specifically Christian perspective, as a trained Ignatian guide, normally on a monthly basis.
I am a lay member of the LGBT + Chaplaincy for the Catholic Diocese of Westminster and have a particular passion for helping LGBT + Christians discover who they are for themselves without being told.
If you would like to talk to an experienced spiritual counsellor or spiritual director, please contact me today on 07910 503372 or click on the email link above.
Online and at Hosey Hill
Westerham, Kent TN16 1TB