At the Parliament of World Religions in Toronto last November, I attended a session entitled “GenInterfaith: Claiming Complex Religious Labels”. Author and speaker, Susan Katz Miller, began with a premise that speaks to us at the Spiritual Guidance Training Institute. From her description she wrote, “Few of us have singular religious identities. Most of us have extended interfaith families, are multiple religious practitioners, live in post-colonial environments with religious layering, and learn from and draw on the many religions that surround us.” We interact in face to face and online encounters with diverse representations at the intersections within our community.
In her presentation, Susan Katz Miller highlighted the fact that ¼ of our population in the US is growing up in interfaith families. In addition, the fastest growing interfaith couples are Christian and Atheist. We are in need of new practices, given the rise in intermarriage, multiple religious practices, and spiritual fluidity (a term by Dwayne Bidwell, author of When One Religion Isn’t Enough). The following four practices were suggested:
We would like to add one more and are also curious about what practices you would add.
At the Spiritual Guidance Training Institute, we celebrate the multitude of religious identities as well as the identities of race, ethnicity, class, gender, ability, sexual/attractional orientation, age, socio-economic class, work, education, veteran status and more. And, we trust that our practices align with our words.
On Monday, January 7, 2019, we celebrated the graduation of SGTI's first cohort of interfaith/interspiritual guides. This was a landmark moment for the Institute as well as for these students because they are some of the first in the U.S. (the world!) to have received formal training and certification in interfaith/interspiritual direction. We are so very proud of them. Congratulations, graduates!
Students for this cohort hailed from California, Texas, Illinois and Michigan. We initially gathered with them in August 2017 in Chicago, IL. for a one-week Residential Institute. We took trips to various holy houses in the greater Chicago area to expand our knowledge and experience of various traditions. On our first full day together (pictured above left), we visited Mishkan, and participated in a Shabbat service and potluck afterwards.
Over the next 18 months, our students continued to learn and grow together in an online format (one learning module every two weeks), by doing spiritual guidance in their own cities, and receiving one-on-one supervision. They went deeper into their spiritual lives and learned with and from the voices in our texts, guest speakers, peer groups, and directees. Their instruction included written, audio, video and "real time" interaction with one another; 30 learning modules, a rigorous training. They learned the art and practice of Pure Presence™ Listening. In April of 2018, they returned to Chicago for another one-week Residential Institute. Students completed their training in January of 2019 by submitting a final project/paper.
A long-distance graduation ceremony was held (pictured above, right) online. We acknowledged each student's gifts and achievements. They also acknowledged one another in this way. They were commissioned to go into the world and offer spiritual guidance with open, curious minds and wise, compassionate hearts, which we know they will faithfully do. We wholeheartedly support their ongoing efforts to serve and grow in the charism we call spiritual guidance. Congratulations, again, to our gifted grads!
"The gift you give another person is just your being."
SGTI is currently hosting its 2nd cohort who will graduate in January 2020. We are currently accepting applications for Cohort 3 to begin in August 2019. Contact us for an application.
SDI co-founder and co-director Jan Lundy has a new essay featured as a blog post on the Spiritual Directors International website. "Cultivating Loving Awareness" offers a bow to yogic sage, Ram Dass, and a deep invitation for us to "see through lenses of love." A method and practice for doing so is offered as well.
"A few years ago, I was blessed to have a private conversation with the yogic sage, Ram Dass, whose work has guided me for years. During our time together, we talked a great deal about the "heart-mind." For him, our spiritual health ...
Here is the link to read the entire post:
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
About this blog
Deepening the understanding, practice and importance of spiritual companionship across traditions.
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