I am thrilled to offer spiritual direction online. I know for many of you it allows you to be flexible with your timing (around lunch breaks, baby naps, and other responsibilities) and it allows us to connect even when we may not live anywhere near each other!
I am also passionate about online spiritual direction not being seen as a “second best” option. There are gifts and benefits to this format that vary from person to person. But Spirit is never limited by us being on screens rather than across a coffee table - the space between us is sacred.
All that said, there are some things that you can do to prepare that will help make online spiritual direction the rich experience I know it can be. Here are some of those suggestions:
1. Prepare your space.
If we were meeting in person, I’d have thought intentionally about the space. There would be comfortable seats, a cup of tea or coffee offered on the way in, and the clutter of daily life cleared out of sight. I might also have laid out a few objects on a table between us - a candle to light, a prayer to share or something meaningful to look at or hold.
How might you also take a moment to intentionally prepare your space? That will look like choosing a place where you won’t be disturbed or overheard while we are talking. It will hopefully be a place where you can feel physically comfortable but attentive.
Take a look around, and put out of sight those things that could distract you, or if that is too difficult, turn your chair or body so at least the chaos is behind you! You are welcome to also light a candle (observe appropriate safety measures) or bring a few meaningful objects to have around you.
2. Prepare your time.
A benefit of meeting in person can be the travel time, as surprising as that might sound, because it gives you time to focus your thoughts as your arrive, and then to process the session as you depart.
How might you intentionally set aside time to fully receive what God has for you? That may look like blocking out half an hour or fifteen minutes before and after the session in your calendar, so that you are able to be fully present and not rushing in or out. Take some time to sit quietly, and settle your mind, your body and your spirit in the Presence of God.
It might also mean taking some time, either immediately before or during the previous few days, to reflect on what you might like to bring to our session together.
If you journal, look back over what you have written the past month and pay attention to patterns or things that surprised you. Or you might like to glance back through your calendar, or do a short Examen prayer for the past month. You don’t always need to come with a prepared topic or event to share, but this process of reflection may still yield fruit in our session as we seek the Presence of God in your life.
2. Prepare your technology.
I use the Zoom platform, which in my experience is one of the most stable and user-friendly video conferencing services. However, tech issues do still sometimes crop up so taking a moment to think about how you might solve them can be helpful!
It can improve sound quality if you are able to use headphones with a built-in microphone. It may be worth giving yourself a few minutes to check the sound and mic are working on your laptop before you log on.
Make sure you are in a location with a good wifi connection, or if not, you might be able to create a hotspot with your mobile phone (check your data allowance first).
If we have issues during a call and struggle to hear or see each other, I will suggest logging out and in to the Zoom room again to see if that helps. If the quality is still not good, then our back up option can be WhatsApp Video or a simple phone call.
Most of all, don’t be anxious about the tech! We will figure it out together, and I know that issues can pop up from time to time.
Above all, come knowing that despite being on screens, the space between us is made sacred by our intention to hold space for all that is emerging in your life. I trust that these times of online connection can be deeply meaningful as you journey on your own unique spiritual path.