One of the threads that repeats itself throughout our curriculum is to learn about and practice contemplative practices across religious, spiritual, secular, and ethical traditions. Our second cohort is well underway, and one of our recent modules highlighted hundreds of practices, including why we do them, when we do them, and how we do them. At the end of each module in our 18-month program, our students create a reflective expression, which can come in many forms, including a traditional reflection, or another format, such as a video, song, poem, art piece, dance, etc.
For this module, we asked them to reflect on the state of their lives as a contemplative, to consider any new insights they have gleaned about the nature of the contemplative life and, specifically, the importance and role of spiritual practices in their lives and in the lives of those they companion. Lastly, we asked them to explore how a contemplative life prepares us to be present and active in the world.
At the SGTI we have been impressed over and over again by the beautiful and honest reflections that have been submitted to us. We asked the permission of a couple of our current students to share their work here. These are only portions of their completed reflections about contemplative practices across traditions.
"My life as a contemplative deepened with my involvement in Druidry, The Gnostic Celtic Church, and the Dolmen Arch course and my discipline and appreciation for it expanded. Now, studying with the SGTI has solidified and focused my practice. It has given me permission to be kind and gentle with myself in my spiritual growth and it has given me a family to work and grow with as we each develop our spiritual gifts and expand into the contemplative life.
Without my Spiritual Practice I would be a very different person. I would suffer greatly from anxiety, depression, and insecurity and I would probably drink alcohol to escape. Fortunately my practice sustains and nourishes me. It helps me endure the travails of living and I am extremely grateful for its positive influence in my life. I am better able to deal with the people around me - family, friends and strangers alike. It enables me to see the Divine (or at least TRY to) in each person I meet…"
SGTI is pleased to announce that our co-founder, Dr. Jeanette Banashak, has just had a new book published by Apocryphile Press: The Mindful Pilgrimage
What happens when you take a mindful pilgrimage? Shift happens!
Have you ever wanted to walk the Camino or take another pilgrimage? Are you looking to start a new practice at home or abroad? Co-founder and director of The Spiritual Guidance Training Institute, fellow pilgrim, and educator for over 20 years, Jeanette Banashak, PhD, EdD, has crafted an accessible guide for anyone desiring to go deeper into their spiritual journey.
Mindful Pilgrimage is small enough to take with you on a 40-day journey or to keep on a bedside table for practice at home. Full of quotes and wisdom from interfaith and interspiritual leaders, this book helps you start or end your day with intention for the journey.
Each day for 40 days, you set aside a few moments to read and contemplate sayings of wise teachers. And, each day, you are asked three questions that you can ponder as you explore your inner landscape.
Whether you immerse yourself in new culture and territory or stay at home, Mindful Pilgrimage will be with you every step of the way. Say yes to change, and take the next step on your journey!
You can learn more about the book here. It is available through Amazon.com.
This August marked an exciting beginning for the 18-month training program at The Spiritual Guidance Training Institute. Drs. Banashakand Lundy, both graduates of the GTF and current adjunct faculty, welcomed a new cohort that hailed from New York, North Carolina, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Texas. The training takes place online with 2 residential weeks in Chicago. The new “emerging spiritual guides” created community together while beginning the exploration of spiritual direction, immersing themselves in deep listening practices, spending time in silence, and visiting interfaith worship services... (Read more here)
(This article recently appeared on the Graduate Theological Foundation website.
Author: Jeanette Banashak, PhD, EdD)
We are pleased to announce that SGTI and co-founder, Jeanette Banashak, is currently featured in "Voyage Chicago."
You can read the article in its entirety here.
SGTI is pleased to announce a wonderful opportunity for you to learn about what it means to be "interspiritually" present as you companion others.
an interactive, day retreat will be offered by Drs. Jeanette Banashak and Janice Lundy on Saturday, Sept. 15 at Dominican Center in Grand Rapids, MI.
We hope you will join in.
This is the same presentation made by Jeanette and Jan in an all-day institute at the recent Spiritual Directors International Conference in St. Louis in April.
As spiritual companions, how do we sit with others who have different practices and beliefs, yet similar longings for connectedness?
In this full-day seminar on spiritual companionship, we will:
As we discuss the major shifts in this interspiritual age, we will consider how our religious/spiritual identity intersects with our companions.
This program is open to spiritual companions, spiritual directors, chaplains and ministers in healthcare settings, ministry leaders, and related spiritual companionship roles.
Cost: $85; $65 for spiritual directors actively practicing at Dominican Center
(use code "Present" for this price)
Price includes continental breakfast, lunch, and materials.
Participants encouraged to bring a comfortable cushion.
Date: Saturday 09/15/2018
Time: 8:45am - 3:00pm
Interspiritual Meditation: Week 5 ~ Hindu Meditation
Loosen the load of sweetness I’m carrying,
The sling-knot is biting into my shoulder
This day has been so meaningless,
I feel I can’t go on.
When I was with my teacher, I heard a truth
That hurt my heart like a blister.
The tender pang of seeing
Something I loved as an illusion.
The flocks I tended are gone.
I am a shepherd without even a memory
Of what that means, climbing this mountain.
I feel so lost.
This was my inward way, until I came
Into the presence of the Moon, this new knowledge
Of how likenesses unite. Good friend,
Everything is you. I see only God.
Now the delightful forms and motions
Are transparent. I look through them
And see myself as the Absolute. And here’s the answer to the riddle of this dream:
You leave, so that we two
Can do One Dance.
-Lalla, tr. Coleman Barks
Interspiritual Meditation - Christian Meditation
Nada te turbe,
nada te espante
todo se pasa,
Dios no se muda,
todo lo alcanza,
quien a Dios tiene
nada le falta
solo Dios basta.
Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things pass away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
He who has God
Finds he lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.
-St. Teresa of Ávila
Interspiritual Meditation - Taoist Meditation
Some say that my teaching is nonsense.
Others call it lofty but impractical.
But to those who have looked inside themselves,
this nonsense makes perfect sense.
And to those who put it into practice,
this loftiness has roots that go deep.
I have just three things to teach:
simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and in thoughts,
you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world.
-Tao Te Ching, tr. Stephen Mitchell, chapter 67
(Image courtesy of Wikipedia.org)
The Second in a Series of Interspiritual Meditations
“Subhuti, if anyone gave to the Buddha an immeasurable quantity of the seven treasures sufficient to fill the whole universe; and if another person, whether a man or woman, in seeking to attain complete Enlightenment were to earnestly and faithfully observe and study even a single section of this Sutra and explain it to others, the accumulated blessing and merit of that latter person would be far greater.”
“Subhuti, how can one explain this Sutra to others without holding in mind any arbitrary conception of forms or phenomena or spiritual truths? It can only be done, Subhuti, by keeping the mind in perfect tranquility and free from any attachment to appearances.”
“So I say to you –
This is how to contemplate our conditioned existence in this fleeting world:”
“Like a tiny drop of dew, or a bubble floating in a stream;
Like a flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
Or a flickering lamp, an illusion, a phantom, or a dream.”
“So is all conditioned existence to be seen.”
Thus spoke Buddha.
-Diamond Sutra: Chapter 32
The first in a series of interspiritual meditation experiences. Enjoy!
We recently returned from a beautiful experience at the Spiritual Directors International Conference in St. Louis, Missouri. The final plenary session involved interspiritual readings from seven religious/spiritual traditions.
A bell was rung, a practitioner of the tradition read the excerpt, and the bell was rung again.
We want to share the experience with you during the next week – daily we will post one of the sacred readings. You may want to practice passage meditation, lectio divina, or slow readings of the texts. You may want to have a bell or chime beside you as you read.
(As much as possible, we have tried to stay true to the translations read, and we may have taken liberties when the exact source was unknown.)
1. O doves that haunt the arák and bán trees, have pity! Do not double my woes by your lamentation!
2. Have pity! Do not reveal, by wailing and weeping, my hidden desires and my secret sorrows!
3. I respond to her, at eve and morn, with the plaintive cry of a longing man and the moan of an impassioned lover.
4. The spirits faced one another in the thicket of ghaḍá trees and bent their branches towards me, and it (the bending) annihilated me;
5. And they brought me divers sorts of tormenting desire and passion and untried affliction.
6. Who will give me sure promise of Jam‘ and al-Muḥaṣṣab of Miná? Who of Dhát al-Athl? Who of Na‘mán?
7. They encompass my heart moment after moment, for the sake of love and anguish, and kiss my pillars,
8. Even as the best of humankind encompassed the Ka‘ba, which the evidence of Reason proclaims to be imperfect,
9. And kissed stones therein, although he was a Náṭiq (prophet). And what is the rank of the Temple in comparison with the dignity of Humanity?
10. How often did they vow and swear that they would not change, but one dyed with henna does not keep oaths.
11. And one of the most wonderful things is a veiled gazelle, who points with red finger-tip and winks with eyelids,
12. A gazelle whose pasture is between the breast-bones and the bowels. O marvel! a garden amidst fires!
13. My heart has become capable of every form: it is a pasture for gazelles and a convent for Christian monks,
14. And a temple for idols and the pilgrim's Ka‘ba and the tables of the Tora and the book of the Koran.
15. I follow the religion of Love: whatever way Love's camels take, that is my religion and my faith.
-The Tarjuman al-Ashwaq, by Ibn al-Arabi, tr. Reynold A. Nicholson
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Deepening the understanding, practice and importance of spiritual guidance across traditions.
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