“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few ” Shunryu Suzuki
For those of us for whom a ‘spiritual’ life is important, it is natural and even necessary that occasionally we are troubled and lost. Frequently, when we find our self in this circumstance, our own thoughts or the traditions we follow are sufficient to help us find a way forward. However there are times when this is not enough and it is valuable to talk with someone, both sympathetic and a little knowledgeable, outside of our situation, who may help us find our way forward. Someone who is not a spiritual teacher but a spiritual mentor, a friend alongside us on the path.
As I conceive the role of a spiritual mentor it is about helping us make sense of our feelings and thoughts about our spiritual life. Whilst it is not psychotherapy, it none the less draws on psychotherapeutic understanding, recognising that we need meaning and direction in our lives if they are to be fulfilled. Whilst it is not spiritual guidance, it draws on the values and insights that are common to all spiritual paths. Most of all it welcomes questioning and having doubts, confusion and not knowing, recognising in these difficult emotional experiences something deeper trying to find expression. Not a fall from the path but the next uncertain step.
My qualification to offer such help is ultimately whether I am found useful or not. However, in addition to my contemplative psychotherapeutic perspective I bring to the conversation a formal education in Christian theology, Buddhist Studies and the practice of meditation. But perhaps most usefully I have personally inhabited many of the confusions possible and have arrived at a place where presently I am content with uncertainty whilst trusting that there is always a way through.
What sort of things do people bring to spiritual mentoring?
Anything - finding a new or leaving an old religion or spiritual path; renewing a path gone stale; conflicts within oneself, with a community or a teacher; struggles with difficult ideas. I am particularly interested in why it is so hard to meditate when we want to and all the little unconscious tricks we trip ourselves up with.
Do I need to have a specific religious or spiritual path to use spiritual mentoring?
No, your own feelings are completely enough. As the quote says above, the beginner’s mind is full of possibilities. It is always the best place to be. Atheism is a legitimate spiritual choice.
Do you teach a specific spiritual path?
No, unlike many spiritual mentors I do not actively recommend any particular path or tradition and I try to avoid being a spiritual teacher. I am neither a guru nor a priest. You bring your own spiritual journey and I may be able to offer different ways to think about where you are and be present with your experience which you can then try out and finally decide on for yourself.
How frequently do we meet?
This is entirely up to you. You may come just once, occasionally or more regularly.
What do I do next?
Simply contact me and we can arrange a meeting at a mutually acceptable time.