SDI Encounters
EP100 - Sunyata Kopriva - Providing Culturally Congruent Trauma Care For Young People

EP100 - Sunyata Kopriva - Providing Culturally Congruent Trauma Care For Young People

March 2, 2021

Here at SDI we have an initiative that brings emerging spiritual companions in the first half of life to our community, helping us weave a web of intergenerational wisdom and practice, which we call the New Contemplatives initiative. These New Contemplatives enrich the SDI community with new forms and paradigms of spiritual care, bringing their voices to the center of the organization and the broader field of spiritual companionship.

In this episode, our New Contemplatives Coordinator, Lizzie Salsich, talks with one of the 2021 New Contemplatives, Sunyata Kopriva. Sunyata talks about their spiritual journey and practice of spiritual companionship.

Sunyata is a global integrative trauma psychotherapist, and founder of Healers Hive, LLC, which specializes in providing culturally congruent trauma care to individuals, communities, and families. They are a gender varied, queer, Buddhist, yoga teacher, meditation teacher, and clinical social worker with Irish/Dutch/Czech ancestry. You can learn more about Sunyata’s work at www.sunyatakopriva.com and www.healershive.com

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Join us at SDI for an unprecedented virtual conference in April 2021 which we are calling Renaissance – the meaning of the word being, “rebirth”. This season of pandemic, and political uncertainty in many countries around the world, have been difficult for all of us. But for every season, there are new beginnings, and out of the mulch and the compost, new life can grow.

This conference is going to be a gigantic sandbox for spiritual companionship and contemplative community. No travel costs, no hotel or meal expenses. Attend from your home, participate from anywhere, around the world. Live, or on-demand. This promises to be the biggest and most extensive gathering of spiritual companions in SDI history.

Registrations for SDI Renaissance 2021 are now open. Everyone is welcome to attend, and be nourished, by this conference. Go to sdicompanions.org for the details and registration options.

 

EP099 - We Need Elders In Our Lives - Nathan Bettger and Lizzie Salsich - New Contemplatives

EP099 - We Need Elders In Our Lives - Nathan Bettger and Lizzie Salsich - New Contemplatives

February 8, 2021

Here at SDI we have an initiative that brings emerging spiritual companions in the first half of life to our community, helping us weave a web of intergenerational wisdom and practice, which we call the New Contemplatives initiative. These New Contemplatives enrich the SDI community with new forms and paradigms of spiritual care, bringing their voices to the center of the organization and the broader field of spiritual companionship.

In this episode, our New Contemplatives Coordinator, Lizzie Salsich, talks with one of the 2021 New Contemplatives, Nathan Bettger. Nathan talks about the importance of having elders, and how people in the first half of life need to be in community with those in second half of life – and allowing wisdom to flow.

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Nathan Bettger is a board-certified hospital chaplain and spiritual director from Oshkosh, WI, where he lives with his wife (Kat), his two sons (Brendan Arthur and Owen Raine) and his Welsh Terrier (Wendell). Nathan is committed to nurturing connection and community, through our relationships, our bodies, our sense of self, the land that we live on, and our experience of the Divine. Deeply grounded in contemplative and mystic Christianity and nature-based spirituality, Nathan seeks to consistently invite others into more unitive and loving life, whether it be through spiritual companioning, caring for those in the hospital, advocating for more natural earth keeping, caring for his honey bees and his garden, or writing. Nathan has led community groups for many years focused on spiritual integration, conversations on death and dying, grief support, and men’s spirituality. He received his Masters in Divinity from Bethel Seminary in St Paul, MN and Certificates of Spiritual Formation and Spiritual Direction from George Fox Seminary in Portland, OR. Nathan served on the founding board for the men’s spirituality non-profit, Illuman and is a graduate scholar of the Orphan Wisdom School, led by teacher, story teller and author, Stephen Jenkinson.

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Join us at SDI for an unprecedented virtual conference in April 2021 which we are calling Renaissance – the meaning of the word being, “rebirth”. This season of pandemic, and political uncertainty in many countries around the world, have been difficult for all of us. But for every season, there are new beginnings, and out of the mulch and the compost, new life can grow.

This conference is going to be a gigantic sandbox for spiritual companionship and contemplative community. No travel costs, no hotel or meal expenses. Attend from your home, participate from anywhere, around the world. Live, or on-demand. This promises to be the biggest and most extensive gathering of spiritual companions in SDI history.

Registrations for SDI Renaissance 2021 are now open. Everyone is welcome to attend, and be nourished, by this conference. Go to sdicompanions.org for the details and registration options.

EP098 - Free eBook! Starting Spiritual Direction - John Mabry, Part 2

EP098 - Free eBook! Starting Spiritual Direction - John Mabry, Part 2

January 26, 2021

In this episode, I continue my conversation with John Mabry, longtime friend of SDI and former Presence editor. This week we get into the modality of spiritual companionship at its essence, which is helping people to grow spiritually. For John, who wrote a very practical book about this called Starting Spiritual Direction, its about creating safe space for others to explore mystical experience (which is more common than we realize), and awaken to the Love Story that is their spiritual life.

John is graciously making this e-book available as a download to all spiritual companions in our community. He asks that you please do not share this widely, but if you are a part of the SDI community and have an e-reader, please  free download of STARTING SPIRITUAL DIRECTION: https://BookHip.com/XFRMWF

John Mabry is a United Church of Christ pastor, currently serving Grace North Church in Berkeley and Our Redeemer Lutheran in Oakland. He teaches world religions and spiritual direction at the Chaplaincy Institute in Berkeley. He sings for two progressive rock bands, Mind Furniture and Metaphor, and also writes songs for liturgy and worship. He is based out of Oakland, California, and you can learn more about him at johnrmabry.com.

EP097 - Feminist Perspectives on Spiritual Companionship and Direction

EP097 - Feminist Perspectives on Spiritual Companionship and Direction

January 20, 2021

In this special episode of SDI Encounters, Director of Programs and Events Frederica Helmiere talks with Beth Bartlett about their upcoming course offering from SDI Education – Feminist Perspectives on Spiritual Companionship. This 12 week course is for anyone who offers spiritual companionship to women, and anyone who receives spiritual companionship from women. The course begins live on January 27 2021, and is also offered on-demand, learn more now by going to our website, sdicompanions.org.

Beth Bartlett, Ph.D., is an educator, author, activist, and spiritual companion.  She is Professor Emerita of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, where she helped to co-found the Women’s Studies program in the early 80s, and taught political and feminist thought, including courses on women, religion, and spirituality, for forty years. She also served for many years as the co-facilitator of the Spirituality Task Force of the National Women’s Studies Association. She is the author of numerous books and articles, including Journey of the Heart: Spiritual Insights on the Road to a Transplant, Rebellious Feminism: Camus’s Ethic of Rebellion and Feminist Thoughtand Making Waves: Grassroots Feminism in Duluth and Superior. She is trained in both Somatic Experiencing® and Indigenous Focusing-Oriented trauma therapy, and offers these healing modalities through her spiritual direction practice, and recently, through racial healing workshops. She has been active in feminist, peace and justice, indigenous rights, and climate justice movements and has been a committed advocate for the water protectors.

2021_01_-_Feminist_Perspectives_Course_rev48k...

 

EP096 - Catching Up With John Mabry - Creative Work and Interfaith Exploration

EP096 - Catching Up With John Mabry - Creative Work and Interfaith Exploration

January 11, 2021

John Mabry is beloved in the SDI Community. He’s been with SDI for over 20 years in a number of ways. He is the former editor and a longtime contributor to Presence Journal – our quarterly magazine on spiritual direction and companionship. He does…so many things. He’s a spiritual director, he’s a prolific author, having written dozens of books on spirituality and mysticism, (I counted 23 books just on spirituality on his website!), but he also writes fantasy and science fiction novels. He is a UCC pastor – at two different churches, AND he makes music with two bands, and is working on a solo album. How in the world does he find time for all of this? In this podcast episode, Part 1 of our conversation, we catch up on all the things John is up to, his teaching practice at the Chaplaincy Institute, why Interfaith exploration and openness is an important part of the spiritual journey, and how the heck he finds time for all his creative endeavors.

John Mabry is a United Church of Christ pastor, currently serving Grace North Church in Berkeley and Our Redeemer Lutheran in Oakland. He teaches world religions and spiritual direction at the Chaplaincy Institute in Berkeley. He sings for two progressive rock bands, Mind Furniture and Metaphor, and also writes songs for liturgy and worship. He is based out of Oakland, California, and you can learn more about him at johnrmabry.com.

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Support for this episode comes from SDI Renaissance 2021 Virtual Conference, offering an unparalleled lineup of workshopsinstitutes and premium workshops and keynotes. Sister Joan, Father Richard, Roshi Joan and our other speakers and workshop presenters will all focus on spiritual companionship. Such an amazing array of wisdom teachers - all addressing our beloved calling - may never be available in one conference again. 

And now, because our conference is 100-percent online, you can enjoy the entire experience without the risk of COVID-19 infection and with considerable savings. That's means significantly lower tuition and no travel or hotel costs.

In addition, every participant will have access to recordings of all plenary sessions - and the vast majority of 40 workshops - as educational resources for 3 months after the end of the conference. (Imagine being able to relax as you enjoy the conference, knowing that if you miss a session you can always catch up later. Imagine having all these wisdom teachers accessible on video for multiple weeks so you can review what you've learned, discern and go deeper.)

Click here to learn more and register today.

 

EP095 - Setting Intentions for Spiritual Companionship in the New Year - A Short Meditation

EP095 - Setting Intentions for Spiritual Companionship in the New Year - A Short Meditation

January 1, 2021

Spiritual companionship is for everyone. The gifts of spiritual companionship are meant to be given to others, and to be received by ourselves. There are opportunities everywhere, all the time, to cultivate a contemplative heart, to be a better listener, and to help others realize they have dignity and are beloved.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, in the Book of Joy, calls us to be in the world as “an oasis of peace, a pool of serenity that ripples out to all those around us.”

As we transition to a new year, to a new season, I invite you to contemplate the small and potent ways you can practice spiritual companionship in your life, whether you are a longtime spiritual director, or simply a friend to others. Let us be, in our lives, an oasis of peace, for ourselves and in service to others.

Here are some simple intentions, inspired by Reverend Seifu’s Dimensions of a Spiritual Companion, to which I offer here as a meditation, and I also invite you to create your own intentions as spiritual companions. Let’s work together to heal our broken world.

EP094 - Two Years of the SDI Encounters Podcast - Notes and Reflections

EP094 - Two Years of the SDI Encounters Podcast - Notes and Reflections

December 22, 2020

Thank you to everybody who has supported the SDI Encounters Podcast, by listening, sharing with a friend, writing a review, or by being a guest. At SDI, we see the podcast as a vital part of our outreach to the public on the merits, value, and necessity of spiritual companionship in the wider culture. Much of our work at SDI is to provide educational media and resources that are for the broader public, to share the healing work we do as spiritual directors and companions to as many people as possible. I view all my work this way – I firmly believe that spiritual companionship should be widely understood and practiced in our culture, and that everyone should have a spiritual companion.

In honor of our 100th Episode, I’ve compiled something of a “Best of the Podcast” list. I don’t really think there are “best” episodes – because they’re all amazing for their own reasons! Of course, I believe each episode contains deep wisdom and lived experiences of spiritual companionship. And the ones that might be perceived as lower quality are relative. For example, the first few episodes reveal a bit of age in their technical quality – I was still learning how to put together a podcast and didn’t understand all the timing nuances and audio tricks like volume leveling and noise reduction. But they still are formative for being the first ones we put out there, and I still love them as much for their technical warts as for the universality of spiritual companionship that we are speaking about.

With that said, it can be overwhelming if you are new to the podcast to know where to begin. I would really say “Begin with the first one and listen to them all!” but realistically you may not have time for all of that. So, as the host of SDI Encounters, here’s an attempt to present a few categorized “curated” lists.

Top Five Episodes based on overall downloads, as of October 22, 2020

EP034 and EP035 – Richard Rohr giving his Keynote on the Universal Christ at the 2018 SDI Conference in St. Louis. Richard Rohr is a superstar, so no surprise here. Let’s just count this as one episode.

EP040 – Spiritual Journey – Iona with Frederica Helmiere and Dave Brown. Receive a taste of what could have been with the 2020 Iona Journey, had the pandemic not shut everything down and cancelled all our plans.

EP036 – Rewilding and Companioning the Earth – Mary DeJong. I was really moved by the deep heart Mary has for the natural environment, in particular the way she holds grief for environmental degradation with dignity, hope, and purpose.

EP033 – Cultivating the Spirituality of Children – Kristen Hobby. This could be a “fish bowl” episode as Frederica and myself offer our own children as guinea pigs to Kristen’s safe and gentle guidance. People must be pretty curious about whether spiritual companionship is something that can be offered to our little ones (hint – it can!).

EP063 – Walking as Spiritual Companionship (Pilgrimage in Place). This is one of my favorites as well as one of yours. Jeanette went for a walk through Chicago, with me on the phone, as we companion and pilgrimage together in real-time. If it hadn’t been here, I’d have added it to the “Personal Favorites” for its experimental quality.

 

 

“Nuts and Bolts” of Spiritual Direction:

EP087 – Non-Theistic Companionship with Joe Sehee. What is spiritual companionship, if “spirit” is not necessarily the ground by which the companioning relationship takes place? The practice is – being fully present and holding space for someone, and respecting aheir agency er to understand and find meaning in their journey, with compassion and non-judgement - Joe approaches his work with deep integrity and purpose.

EP071 – Supervision with Lucy Abbott Tucker. Rev. Seifu talks with Lucy about the supervision process, the need to practice accountability as spiritual directors, and how Lucy’s teachings are distilled in her book.

EP093 – Bernadette Miles – a refreshing conversation in which Bernie tells her own story of getting into spiritual companionship. Bernie describes her earlier relationship to religion as an “insurance policy for getting into heaven” until one day when a pastor sees her at an icon (a Crucified Christ on the Cross), ponders it for a moment, and says “that wasn’t a very happy ending, was it?” This small encounter opened the floodgates of the reality of Spirit and that relationship with the Divine is truly available to all of us.

Any of the Rev. Seifu 1/1 conversations. “My Boss is a Zen Priest” or “Hallmarks/Dimension of a Spiritual Companion” series. In these episodes Rev. Seifu and I explore the modality of spiritual companionship and how this relationship is necessary for anyone on the spiritual journey (which is everyone!).

 

Examples of real-life companionship (I call these “fish bowl” episodes, because you get to hear actual examples of companionship, rather than talking about it)

EP013 – Dani Forbess on Embodied Spirituality I opened up about my own wrestling with how I relate to my Christianity in a way that sounded somewhat heretical. Dani held the space for me to do so gently and without judgement.

EP075 – sharing poetry with Dave Brown. This one was really fun – Dave starts by sharing about how a poem itself can be a spiritual companion to us. Then he and I go back and forth sharing some of our favorite poems in a “Poetry Battle” (or if that’s too militaristic, how about a “Poetry Dance”?)

EP070 – Dreamwork Session with Amy Curran – In the previous EP069 episode, Amy and I do the interview format about her spiritual companionship practice as a Dreamworker. But in this episode I offered one of my own dreams and we do real-time dreamwork together. If you have ever been interested in dreams or dream interpretation, this episode is a must-listen!

EP081 – Nonviolent Communication with Pam Winthrop Lauer: I brought my inner critic for an open and vulnerable conversation with Pam, who adeptly held the sacred space for me to do so, while practicing the tenets of Nonviolent Communication to help hold the safe space and to disarm my inner critic.

 

Personal “Favorites” – I don’t really have favorites, but there are some where the podcast interview format gets interrupted in creative ways.

EP065 – SDI Staff reading the April 2020 Issue of Listen - We tried to do something creative with the podcast format and I really love how it turned out!

EP042 – if you want to hear Frederica and myself cracking up multiple times in a very unprofessional way, here you go.

Hidden Gems – a couple of episodes in which a deeper Truth or bit of wisdom is revealed, that you might have missed if you just read the Title and moved on!

EP089 – AccountabilityThis is a Hallmarks of Spiritual Companionship conversation I had recently with Reverend Seifu about the need for spiritual directors to seek supervision and to hold their practice as professionally as possible. What the process of accountability does is it puts our very identity as spiritual companions under the microscope. Ultimately we learn to let go of the need to direct, we trust the person we are companioning, the seeker, to find their own direction, to trust their hearts, to find and walk the path that is put before them.

EP077 – Sexuality and Spiritual Companionship with Karen Erlichman: I just appreciate the real groundedness that Karen has as a spiritual companion. She talks frankly and plainly about sexuality as it pertains to spirituality – the beauty and the traumas and the potential pitfalls. And the dissolution of any sort of boundary or taboo around what is considered “spiritual” and what is not.

EP093 - Bernadette Miles - “What stops us from realizing we are lovable?”

EP093 - Bernadette Miles - “What stops us from realizing we are lovable?”

December 14, 2020

Bernadette Miles is co-director at the Kardia Formation and Training Program in Victoria, Australia. She trained in spiritual direction and theology after twenty years of computer consulting and business management and has a special interest in formation of apostolic leadership and applying the concepts of Ignatian Spirituality to organizational development.

Bernie, as we know her, is a member of SDI’s Coordinating Council. I spoke with her about doing the Ignatian spiritual exercises, doing the work of spiritual companionship virtually, about the story of how she came into spiritual companionship, and how this work helps us as a society and as a planet.

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Announcing the SDI Renaissance 2021 Virtual Conference, offering an unparalleled lineup of workshopsinstitutes and premium workshops and keynotes. Sister Joan, Father Richard, Roshi Joan and our other speakers and workshop presenters will all focus on spiritual companionship. Such an amazing array of wisdom teachers - all addressing our beloved calling - may never be available in one conference again. 

And now, because our conference is 100-percent online, you can enjoy the entire experience without the risk of COVID-19 infection and with considerable savings. That's means significantly lower tuition and no travel or hotel costs.

In addition, every participant will have access to recordings of all plenary sessions - and the vast majority of 40 workshops - as educational resources for 3 months after the end of the conference. (Imagine being able to relax as you enjoy the conference, knowing that if you miss a session you can always catch up later. Imagine having all these wisdom teachers accessible on video for multiple weeks so you can review what you've learned, discern and go deeper.)

Click here to learn more and register today.

EP092 - Dimensions of Spiritual Companionship - Discernment

EP092 - Dimensions of Spiritual Companionship - Discernment

December 8, 2020

Who is a spiritual companion? A spiritual director is a spiritual companion, as is a life coach, a chaplain, a hospice nurse, really anybody in a caring vocation. But it can also be a type of person who lives and listens in ways that embody this type of caring. That is, a spiritual companion need not do it as a job. Some of us are spiritual companions in the way we honor our relationships to family, friends, neighbors, the land, our ancestors, and the cosmos.

So there are lots of ways the role of spiritual companionship manifests, and SDI celebrates the diversity of practices and people who identify as one. But, how does one identify or see themselves and others as a spiritual companion?

In April 2020’s Listen publication, Executive Director Reverend Seifu Anil Singh-Molares wrote a reflection on the Dimensions of Spiritual Companionship - a series of characteristics and skills that a companion lives into.

What are the characteristics of a spiritual companion? Rev. Seifu’s various Dimensions invite us to consider this. And I think it’s important to note that one need not embody ALL of these dimensions at once - but each one should give us some pause, in which I might consider - how do I practice this? How do I embody this dimension?

In an ongoing series of episodes, Rev. Seifu and I will have conversations around each of these dimensions, as a way to unpack and get to know each of them in depth. And as you listen, I invite you to consider each for yourself. The way you understand each dimension need not reflect how we understand it, but I hope these conversations spark either a deep knowing within you, or a good curiosity.

Good Discernment: "We are intuitives and quiet guides, we provide reasoned feedback only when asked, and we also try to advance balance and equanimity at all times."

I hope this conversation has awakened or stirred something in you. Take a moment to reflect - how do you identify with this dimension of spiritual companionship? Does it feel natural? Does it feel elusive? How does this dimension manifest for you? Is it something you desire to increase for yourself? I invite you to take a few breaths, and tend to that stirring.

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Do you want to be part of a global contemplative movement that contributes to peace, justice, and living in right relationship with all creation? Your membership supports networking opportunities, publications, educational programming, outreach, and more.

Together we are changing the world through the contemplative action of spiritual companionship. Everyone is welcome to become a member of SDI.

The SDI global learning community is a group of compassionate listeners who are committed to peace and justice. Become a new member or renew your membership on SDI’s secure online store.

Membership benefits include:

  • Being part of a worldwide contemplative movement
  • Global and local networking
  • Listing in the Find a Spiritual Companion Guide: A Worldwide Resource of Available Spiritual Companions
  • Access to Group Spiritual Direction sessions and exclusive online Town Halls and Gatherings
  • Subscription to Presence, Listen, and Connections
    Discover newsletter
  • Discounted liability insurance
  • Discounts on all educational events and gatherings
  • Discounts on SDI brochures and resources
EP091 - A Gratitude Meditation for Spiritual Companions

EP091 - A Gratitude Meditation for Spiritual Companions

November 25, 2020

Please enjoy this short (10 minute) guided meditation, which I (Matt Whitney) wrote and recorded this week as an offering to spiritual companions. It offers a few specific gratitude prompts, each related to key aspects of our service as spiritual companions. Each prompt is followed by 30 seconds of silence, with a chime sounded to move between each phase.

Gratitude is a universal practice of orienting ourselves towards the fact that everything is a gift. Gratitude is, essentially, a posture or a lens through which we see the arrangements and circumstances of our very existence. Do we view the world with a sense of scarcity, and lack, and pessimism? Or do we view it as a place of abundance, and beauty, and hopefulness?

We practice gratitude for the good things in our lives, but also for the challenges. Because by being challenged, we are stretched, we soften, and we grow in our capacity to be more compassionate, and we grow in the wisdom of what it is to be human.

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Thank you for supporting the work of spiritual companionship around the world. Learn more at www.sdicompanions.org

 

EP090 - Announcing the SDI 2021 Renaissance Virtual Conference!

EP090 - Announcing the SDI 2021 Renaissance Virtual Conference!

November 16, 2020

We at SDI are so excited to announce an unprecedented virtual conference for April 2021 which we are calling Renaissance – the meaning of the word being, “rebirth”. This season of pandemic, and political uncertainty in many countries around the world, have been difficult for all of us. But for every season, there are new beginnings, and out of the mulch and the compost, new life can grow.

This conference is going to be a gigantic sandbox for spiritual companionship and contemplative community. No travel costs, no hotel or meal expenses. Attend from your home, participate from anywhere, around the world. Live, or on-demand. This promises to be the biggest and most extensive gathering of spiritual companions in SDI history.

Here’s a quick conversation for the podcast with Rev. Seifu Anil Singh-Molares, our Executive Director, about the intentions and hopes for this conference. We've also produced a shorter video on YouTube that you can watch.

Registrations for SDI Renaissance 2021 are now open. Everyone is welcome to attend, and be nourished, by this conference. Go to sdicompanions.org for the details and registration options.

2021_Renaissance_-_Presenters6tfr5.jpg

EP089 - Dimensions of Spiritual Companionship - Accountability

EP089 - Dimensions of Spiritual Companionship - Accountability

November 10, 2020

Who is a spiritual companion? A spiritual director is a spiritual companion, as is a life coach, a chaplain, a hospice nurse, really anybody in a caring vocation. But it can also be a type of person who lives and listens in ways that embody this type of caring. That is, a spiritual companion need not do it as a job. Some of us are spiritual companions in the way we honor our relationships to family, friends, neighbors, the land, our ancestors, and the cosmos.

So there are lots of ways the role of spiritual companionship manifests, and SDI celebrates the diversity of practices and people who identify as one. But, how does one identify or see themselves and others as a spiritual companion?

In April 2020’s Listen publication, Executive Director Reverend Seifu Anil Singh-Molares wrote a reflection on the Dimensions of Spiritual Companionship - a series of characteristics and skills that a companion lives into.

What are the characteristics of a spiritual companion? Rev. Seifu’s various Dimensions invite us to consider this. And I think it’s important to note that one need not embody ALL of these dimensions at once - but each one should give us some pause, in which I might consider - how do I practice this? How do I embody this dimension?

In an ongoing series of episodes, Rev. Seifu and I will have conversations around each of these dimensions, as a way to unpack and get to know each of them in depth. And as you listen, I invite you to consider each for yourself. The way you understand each dimension need not reflect how we understand it, but I hope these conversations spark either a deep knowing within you, or a good curiosity.

I hope this conversation has awakened or stirred something in you. Take a moment to reflect - how do you identify with this dimension of spiritual companionship? Does it feel natural? Does it feel elusive? How does this dimension manifest for you? Is it something you desire to increase for yourself? I invite you to take a few breaths, and tend to that stirring.

---

Do you want to be part of a global contemplative movement that contributes to peace, justice, and living in right relationship with all creation? Your membership supports networking opportunities, publications, educational programming, outreach, and more.

Together we are changing the world through the contemplative action of spiritual companionship. Everyone is welcome to become a member of SDI.

The SDI global learning community is a group of compassionate listeners who are committed to peace and justice. Become a new member or renew your membership on SDI’s secure online store.

Membership benefits include:

  • Being part of a worldwide contemplative movement
  • Global and local networking
  • Listing in the Find a Spiritual Companion Guide: A Worldwide Resource of Available Spiritual Companions
  • Access to Group Spiritual Direction sessions and exclusive online Town Halls and Gatherings
  • Subscription to Presence, Listen, and Connections
    Discover newsletter
  • Discounted liability insurance
  • Discounts on all educational events and gatherings
  • Discounts on SDI brochures and resources
EP088 - Dimensions of a Spiritual Companion - Mutuality

EP088 - Dimensions of a Spiritual Companion - Mutuality

October 26, 2020

Who is a spiritual companion? A spiritual director is a spiritual companion, as is a life coach, a chaplain, a hospice nurse, really anybody in a caring vocation. But it can also be a type of person who lives and listens in ways that embody this type of caring. That is, a spiritual companion need not do it as a job. Some of us are spiritual companions in the way we honor our relationships to family, friends, neighbors, the land, our ancestors, and the cosmos.

So there are lots of ways the role of spiritual companionship manifests, and SDI celebrates the diversity of practices and people who identify as one. But, how does one identify or see themselves and others as a spiritual companion?

In April 2020’s Listen publication, Executive Director Reverend Seifu Anil Singh-Molares wrote a reflection on the Dimensions of Spiritual Companionship - a series of characteristics and skills that a companion lives into.

What are the characteristics of a spiritual companion? Rev. Seifu’s various Dimensions invite us to consider this. And I think it’s important to note that one need not embody ALL of these dimensions at once - but each one should give us some pause, in which I might consider - how do I practice this? How do I embody this dimension?

In an ongoing series of episodes, Rev. Seifu and I will have conversations around each of these dimensions, as a way to unpack and get to know each of them in depth. And as you listen, I invite you to consider each for yourself. The way you understand each dimension need not reflect how we understand it, but I hope these conversations spark either a deep knowing within you, or a good curiosity.

I hope this conversation has awakened or stirred something in you. Take a moment to reflect - how do you identify with this dimension of spiritual companionship? Does it feel natural? Does it feel elusive? How does this dimension manifest for you? Is it something you desire to increase for yourself? I invite you to take a few breaths, and tend to that stirring.

---

Do you want to be part of a global contemplative movement that contributes to peace, justice, and living in right relationship with all creation? Your membership supports networking opportunities, publications, educational programming, outreach, and more.

Together we are changing the world through the contemplative action of spiritual companionship. Everyone is welcome to become a member of SDI.

The SDI global learning community is a group of compassionate listeners who are committed to peace and justice. Become a new member or renew your membership on SDI’s secure online store.

Membership benefits include:

  • Being part of a worldwide contemplative movement
  • Global and local networking
  • Listing in the Find a Spiritual Companion Guide: A Worldwide Resource of Available Spiritual Companions
  • Access to Group Spiritual Direction sessions and exclusive online Town Halls and Gatherings
  • Subscription to Presence, Listen, and Connections
    Discover newsletter
  • Discounted liability insurance
  • Discounts on all educational events and gatherings
  • Discounts on SDI brochures and resources
EP087 - Non-theistic Companionship with Joe Sehee

EP087 - Non-theistic Companionship with Joe Sehee

October 20, 2020

This week’s episode is a conversation I had about companionship with Joe Sehee. I very intentionally refer to ‘companionship’ here, as Joe approaches this work from a non-theistic, non-religious perspective. We discuss topics around finding meaning and universality in suffering, human connection, using silence to be in conversation, compassion fatigue, and remembering to have a sense of humor.

Talking with Joe, I thought of the famous line from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet – A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. At SDI, we talk about the healing modality of spiritual companionship. You can call it companionship, or spiritual direction, guidance, friendship. Call it what you like – it’s about the relationship, the listening work, and the meaningful story of the others we companion.

Joe Sehee is the Executive Officer of Social Health Australia based in Melbourne. Social Health Australia brings forward innovative approaches to companioning people in crisis and combating the growing problems of social isolation and loneliness. Their mission is to make times of transition, uncertainty and loss not only less debilitating, but also opportunities for building resilience and creating community.

Joe has a wide range of experience as a non-theistic spiritual director and pastoral caregiver including serving four years as Associate Director of Campus Ministry at the Jesuit-run University of San Francisco. A Peabody Award-winning journalist, Joe is founder of the Green Burial Council, director of EarthFunerals, chairman of the Bendoc Cemetery Trust and a senior fellow at the Environmental Leadership Program.

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Support for this podcast comes from the Siena Retreat Center. Are you passionate about the spiritual growth and transformation that comes from the practice of spiritual guidance? Siena Retreat Center, located on Lake Michigan between Chicago and Milwaukee, is seeking an experienced leader in the area of spiritual companioning. The full-time position of Spiritual Guidance Coordinator involves the collaborative leadership of the Center’s Two-Year Spiritual Guidance Training Program. We invite you to explore the job description at www.sienaretreatcenter.org.

EP086 - Apollo’s Lyre - Spirituality and Psychoanalysis with Dr. Kenneth Porter

EP086 - Apollo’s Lyre - Spirituality and Psychoanalysis with Dr. Kenneth Porter

October 5, 2020

This week, Frederica spoke with Dr. Kenneth Porter, author of the book Apollo's Lyre: The Art of Spiritual Psychotherapy. Dr. Porter is a spiritual psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. He has taught Buddhist Insight Meditation at the New York Insight Meditation Center, was a long-term student of the Kundalini Master Chandrasekharanand Saraswati, was President of the Association for Spirituality and Psychotherapy, and is an ordained Teacher/Minister of the Diamond Approach, the work of A.H. Almaas. He currently practices and lives with his wife in New York City.

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About Apollo's Lyre:

"Where does spirituality belong in psychotherapy, and in our lives? Drawing upon thirty years of experience with meditation, spiritual practice, and the art and science of psychotherapy, Dr. Kenneth Porter demonstrates how spiritual practices and psychotherapy inform and enhance one another in helping therapists, clients, and all of us in simply living our lives to find our fullest, most authentic, and loving selves. Utilizing a balance of personal experiences and established psychological theory, this book is an essential resource for psychotherapists and patients, presenting a compelling case for spirituality’s place in therapy, and explaining in detail how practitioners may incorporate spirituality into their practice. But Apollo’s Lyre is also a crucial resource for all of us, establishing how we are all spiritual beings at our core, and revealing how spirituality reveals incredible possibilities for loving self-discovery and transformation in our lives."

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Support for this podcast comes from the Siena Retreat Center. Are you passionate about the spiritual growth and transformation that comes from the practice of spiritual guidance? Siena Retreat Center, located on Lake Michigan between Chicago and Milwaukee, is seeking an experienced leader in the area of spiritual companioning. The full-time position of Spiritual Guidance Coordinator involves the collaborative leadership of the Center’s Two-Year Spiritual Guidance Training Program. We invite you to explore the job description at www.sienaretreatcenter.org.

EP085 - Somatic Healing and Vulnerability with Angie Fadel

EP085 - Somatic Healing and Vulnerability with Angie Fadel

September 28, 2020

This week, I spoke with Angie Fadel - a spiritual director who engages in somatic methods of healing by teaching archery to her companions. Among other things, we discuss the necessity of opening up to being vulnerable in our spiritual journeys, feeling anger and even rage, privilege and identity, and the work of deconstruction in spiritual companionship, and how that can open us to excavating our traumas and to engage the work of healing our souls.

 

Angie Fadel is a certified spiritual director with an MA in spiritual formation, but don’t let that scare you. She spends most of her time specializing in somatic methods of healing archery, hiking, meditation, and mindfulness. She is always looking for ways to empower and connect the mind, body, soul, and spirit. She is the founder and creator of Soul Care and Meditative Archery and co-founder of collaborative arts troupe. Agents Of Future.

 

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Support for this podcast comes from the Siena Retreat Center. Are you passionate about the spiritual growth and transformation that comes from the practice of spiritual guidance? Siena Retreat Center, located on Lake Michigan between Chicago and Milwaukee, is seeking an experienced leader in the area of spiritual companioning. The full-time position of Spiritual Guidance Coordinator involves the collaborative leadership of the Center’s Two-Year Spiritual Guidance Training Program. We invite you to explore the job description at www.sienaretreatcenter.org.

 

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EP084 - Sacred Music and Conversation with Simon de Voil

EP084 - Sacred Music and Conversation with Simon de Voil

September 18, 2020

Enjoy this lovely conversation between Frederica Helmiere and Simon de Voil. Simon is an interfaith/interspiritual minister, sacred musician, youth worker and wooden boat builder. In all these vocations, he uses music and carpentry as a means to help individuals and groups connect sacred presence with everyday life. He is also a very accomplished musician; Simon has toured internationally as a singer-songwriter and storyteller and released four solo albums over the past decade. His music explores themes of the inner landscape of the soul, the enchantment of the natural world and a personal journey to follow an unexpected calling. Simon lived as a resident of the Iona community in Scotland for many years, and now lives in Vermont. His unusual life and music are the focus of the award-winning documentary film ‘Funny Kinda Guy.’

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SDI Members are the lifeblood of our organization, which exists to advocate for and equip spiritual companions across traditions, orientations, and around the world. This work begins with you: whether you are a fellow spiritual traveler (as we all are), or work as a spiritual director, life coach, chaplain, or religious leader. We all have a sacred story to tell. The world needs compassionate listeners to bear witness to and to honor these stories.
Whomever you are, and wherever you are in your spiritual journey, there's never been a better time to join our global family of spiritual companions.
We've put together a video featuring a few friends from the SDI Community as they share about the benefits of membership. And we have more on the way! If you haven't done so, please consider joining our Public Square of Spiritual Companionship: https://www.sdicompanions.org/shop/membership-features/
EP083 - Dimensions of Spiritual Companionship - Exploration of the Unknown

EP083 - Dimensions of Spiritual Companionship - Exploration of the Unknown

September 15, 2020

Who is a spiritual companion? A spiritual director is a spiritual companion, as is a life coach, a chaplain, a hospice nurse, really anybody in a caring vocation. But it can also be a type of person who lives and listens in ways that embody this type of caring. That is, a spiritual companion need not do it as a job. Some of us are spiritual companions in the way we honor our relationships to family, friends, neighbors, the land, our ancestors, and the cosmos.

So there are lots of ways the role of spiritual companionship manifests, and SDI celebrates the diversity of practices and people who identify as one. But, how does one identify or see themselves and others as a spiritual companion?

In April 2020’s Listen publication, Executive Director Reverend Seifu Anil Singh-Molares wrote a reflection on the Dimensions of Spiritual Companionship - a series of characteristics and skills that a companion lives into.

What are the characteristics of a spiritual companion? Rev. Seifu’s various Dimensions invite us to consider this. And I think it’s important to note that one need not embody ALL of these dimensions at once - but each one should give us some pause, in which I might consider - how do I practice this? How do I embody this dimension?

In an ongoing series of episodes, Rev. Seifu and I will have conversations around each of these dimensions, as a way to unpack and get to know each of them in depth. And as you listen, I invite you to consider each for yourself. The way you understand each dimension need not reflect how we understand it, but I hope these conversations spark either a deep knowing within you, or a good curiosity.

I hope this conversation has awakened or stirred something in you. Take a moment to reflect - how do you identify with this dimension of spiritual companionship? Does it feel natural? Does it feel elusive? How does this dimension manifest for you? Is it something you desire to increase for yourself? I invite you to take a few breaths, and tend to that stirring.

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Do you want to be part of a global contemplative movement that contributes to peace, justice, and living in right relationship with all creation? Your membership supports networking opportunities, publications, educational programming, outreach, and more.

Together we are changing the world through the contemplative action of spiritual companionship. Everyone is welcome to become a member of SDI.

The SDI global learning community is a group of compassionate listeners who are committed to peace and justice. Become a new member or renew your membership on SDI’s secure online store.

Membership benefits include:

  • Being part of a worldwide contemplative movement
  • Global and local networking
  • Listing in the Find a Spiritual Companion Guide: A Worldwide Resource of Available Spiritual Companions
  • Access to Group Spiritual Direction sessions and exclusive online Town Halls and Gatherings
  • Subscription to Presence, Listen, and Connections
    Discover newsletter
  • Discounted liability insurance
  • Discounts on all educational events and gatherings
  • Discounts on SDI brochures and resources
EP082 - Dimensions of Spiritual Companionship - Deep Listening with Rev. Seifu

EP082 - Dimensions of Spiritual Companionship - Deep Listening with Rev. Seifu

September 2, 2020

Who is a spiritual companion? A spiritual director is a spiritual companion, as is a life coach, a chaplain, a hospice nurse, really anybody in a caring vocation. But it can also be a type of person who lives and listens in ways that embody this type of caring. That is, a spiritual companion need not do it as a job. Some of us are spiritual companions in the way we honor our relationships to family, friends, neighbors, the land, our ancestors, and the cosmos.

So there are lots of ways the role of spiritual companionship manifests, and SDI celebrates the diversity of practices and people who identify as one. But, how does one identify or see themselves and others as a spiritual companion?

In April 2020’s Listen publication, Executive Director Reverend Seifu Anil Singh-Molares wrote a reflection on the Dimensions of Spiritual Companionship - a series of characteristics and skills that a companion lives into.

What are the characteristics of a spiritual companion? Rev. Seifu’s various Dimensions invite us to consider this. And I think it’s important to note that one need not embody ALL of these dimensions at once - but each one should give us some pause, in which I might consider - how do I practice this? How do I embody this dimension?

In an ongoing series of episodes, Rev. Seifu and I will have conversations around each of these dimensions, as a way to unpack and get to know each of them in depth. And as you listen, I invite you to consider each for yourself. The way you understand each dimension need not reflect how we understand it, but I hope these conversations spark either a deep knowing within you, or a good curiosity.

I hope this conversation has awakened or stirred something in you. Take a moment to reflect - how do you identify with this dimension of spiritual companionship? Does it feel natural? Does it feel elusive? How does this dimension manifest for you? Is it something you desire to increase for yourself? I invite you to take a few breaths, and tend to that stirring.

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I want to tell you about SDI’s very first online course, called Exploring Spiritual Companionship Across Traditions. Join SDI for a twelve week survey course of spiritual companionship’s expression in various authentic forms: Judaism, Buddhism, Indigenous traditions, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, contemporary Shamanism, eco-spiritualities, and more — guided by the very best in the field offering their expertise and personal experiences. 

This course is for anyone who desires to broaden their understanding and practice of spiritual companionship beyond a single tradition or approach. It is for anyone who is considering becoming a spiritual companion and seeks an inclusive pluralistic introduction to the craft. And it is for anyone who is curious about what spiritual companionship is in our pluralistic modern world.

The live course begins September 9th, but you can register anytime to watch the recordings, and learn at your own pace. Register now at our website, sdicompanions.org.

 

EP081 - Nonviolent Communication - Pam Winthrop Lauer

EP081 - Nonviolent Communication - Pam Winthrop Lauer

August 12, 2020

In this episode, I (Matt Whitney) go into the fishbowl of spiritual companionship with Pam Winthrop Lauer, a spiritual director and a practitioner and teacher of Nonviolent Communication, or (NVC). Also known as Connecting Communication, Non Violent Communication is a revolutionary communication model that provides concrete ways to transform judgment, anger, and fear into compassion for ourselves and others. NVC offers strong, effective tools to connect open-heartedly with anyone, so that when we are called outward into the public square, we have the skills to work for change nonviolently – i.e. in a way that honors the sacredness of all humanity.

Pam introduces NVC to us, offers a meditation, which then moves into our process – in which I offer a conflict I am having, with myself. Rather, my Inner Critic, that voice in my head that tells me that the things I make, as an artist and as a creative practitioner, are not good.

Pam Winthrop Lauer grew her spiritual direction and Nonviolent Communication practices gradually over 15 years while raising her children and caring for her husband who was ill.  In 2015, with her children grown and husband recovering, Pam launched a full-time practice of spiritual direction and NVC coaching and teaching.  She also volunteers as an interfaith leader.  Pam's teaching style is dynamic, effective, and gentle.  She is a candidate to become a certified trainer with the Center for Nonviolent Communication (cnvc.org).  Her spiritual direction certification is through the Lev Shomea Jewish Spiritual Direction Training Program of 2001-2003.

 

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