Ever since the beginning of our relationship, we have discussed spiritual guidance/direction in interfaith and interspiritual ways. We read books, wrote papers, asked questions, and listened to many wise teachers on what it means (and can mean!) to engage with people who have the same spiritual heart (our interspiritual nature), and may come from the same or different religious tradition, or none at all.
The Spiritual Guidance Training Institute began with a couple questions: What if we started a global institute that trained people to become interfaith and interspiritual guides? What if we organized pilgrimages for individuals and groups to sacred places around the world and in the United States? There are only a handful of training programs in the United States that focus on interfaith guidance, and none of them is in the Midwest. We wondered if this was the right timing and the right place to begin this adventure. We talked with directors of other spiritual guidance and direction programs who all energetically encouraged us to continue making our dream a reality.
We practiced discernment, together and separately, seeking guidance from trusted people with whom we live in our communities. We also accessed our inner teacher and became aware of how our hearts, minds, and bodies were responding to the question, what if?
Considering how the institute ought to be birthed, we asked what seemed like thousands of questions and answered hundreds of them. We considered our own strengths and limitations and took those into account as we continued envisioning the institute. We wrote a mission statement, as well as a vision statement and core values. We created a website that we hoped would be informative and beautiful. We agreed on a name after brainstorming and evaluating dozens of ideas. With every new decision, we consulted each other and listened deeply. But, not every decision was agreed upon by both of us.
The two most difficult decisions involved where the residential institutes (the two one-week face-to-face encounters) should take place and what organizational structure we should operate from. Again, we listened and discerned and discussed together the myriad possibilities and potentials. At one point, we even wondered if we should go our separate ways – because we were unclear about what our dream organization might be.
Friends, The Spiritual Guidance Training Institute is our dream organization and the result of much hard work and prayer. We have you to thank for cheering us on, inspiring us, teaching us, guiding us, and asking those hard and important questions. We look forward to meeting you if we don’t know you and continuing our friendship with you if we do.
Jeanette Banashak, PhD, EdD
About this blog
Deepening the understanding, practice and importance of spiritual guidance-companionship across traditions.