Hesychia: Day 4, Week 2

One of the scariest things about learning a new skill is realizing that you’re expected to go out into the world and actually USE it.

Although we have one more session tomorrow morning before we say goodbye to each other at noon and go off on our merry ways until April, we did some wrapping up this afternoon as well.  One of the things our director said in her “farewell address” was that we had already been given all the basic skills we would need to do spiritual direction and that we should feel free to use what we have learned between now and April.  That way, when we return for Session 2, we will have a lot more to talk about, questions to ask, issues to raise, and experience to draw from.

So here’s my question to you dear and lovely readers who have been following and supporting my journey thus far:

Who wants to be my guinea pig?

If you are willing to make yourself available to me as a practice-directee, I would LOVE the opportunity to try out some of what I have been learning and test the waters.  We can meet in person if you live nearby, or we can try out what it would be like to have a spiritual direction session via Skype or phone.  (I have done Skype with my own spiritual director, and that wasn’t too weird. I’ve also had a Skype session with  a spiritual director I’d never met in person. It was a little awkward at first, but we made it work.) Whatever works for you, I’m up for trying if you are!  Needless to say, there is absolutely no obligation or pressure, although I would certainly be interested and open to hearing your feedback about what did or didn’t work for you so I can keep growing and improve.

Or, if you are just curious about what spiritual direction is or what it might be like to be in a session with me, I’d love the chance to practice explaining it and work out some of my own language about what I want to take from this program and how I might be similar to or different from other directors.

Fair warning, though, that I will probably be doing some of the latter on this blog anyway and asking for your feedback on how the language strikes you or what fits/doesn’t fit about my approach and method.

For the moment, I am just trying to wrap my brain around the idea that I could actually sit down with someone tomorrow and conduct a real spiritual direction session after only experiencing half the program!  That is an exciting prospect but also a terrifying one.  I feel ready, and I worry that I will never be ready.  What a strange place to be, here in this middle-space, here in this in-between, here in the space between already and not-yet.

Wow, I just went Pauline on you, my dear readers.  Don’t worry. That shouldn’t happen in session!

Hesychia: Day 2, Week 2

The hardest thing about practicing is not getting to try again.

I directed my first spiritual direction session today.  Ever since yesterday, I have been plagued with periodic attacks of anxiety imagining myself in the director’s chair on display within the fishbowl having to perform for the group.  Today I tried to tell myself that the nervous energy I was feeling was really excitement and that I was ready for this.

And then I spent the whole 25-minute session trying to control my shaking and relax at the same time.  My goodness, I was in a state!  My facial muscles were twitching, and my body was tense.  My fingers were fidgeting, and my heart was pounding so loudly I could barely hear my directee speak not two feet away from me.  I spent most of the session trying to breathe deeply to calm my heart and hoping no one could tell how internally stressed out I was!

The good news is, God showed up.  My directee did not pick up on my anxiety at all and was not “blocked” by anything about my demeanor.  In fact, he actually appreciated my attentive presence and reported that the word I had shared that seemed to name some of his experience was really insightful and helped open up a new avenue for him to explore.

The group was gentle. They acknowledged my anxiety and offered suggestions for next time.  The facilitator actually made some revisions to some of what we had learned last week about how to interact with the directee in a session that was really freeing for our whole group.  So we all learned together.

It was both affirming and a learning experience.  I was proud of myself for having taken the risk to name what I was hearing in the session and was honored that it resonated with my directee.  I was proud of myself for taking the risk to participate in the practicum at all.  No one was holding me there. I could have skipped out. I could have even quit back on Day 2, Week 1 when I was so full of doubt and discouragement.  But I stayed. I tried. I learned.

And you know what? I wanted to go again and put my learning to use right away to see what it felt like to be a little looser and more myself in the session.  I wanted to try more active and reflective listening.  I wanted to pause and ask a deeper question. I wanted to be in the hot spot again!

I’m actually disappointed I won’t have another opportunity to play the director in practicum until we return for Session 2 in April.  What a change from last week at this time.  What a change from this morning!  This morning I was trying to convince myself that my anxiety was excitement.  Now my excitement has actually usurped my anxiety.  Now my heart is beating in anticipation.  Now that I have tried and learned, I feel ready to do this.  I can do this!

As the Little Engine said,

I thought I could! I thought I could!  I thought I could!