As COVID-19 continues to sweep the globe we all find ourselves in uncertain times. Our daily lives, the routines and rhythms that we had taken for granted have been upset. Some people are finding joy and adventure in the process of discovering new ways of being. Many are facing financial difficulties. And most of us are facing some level of anxiety that changes from day to day. Spiritual direction will necessarily be changing as well. How does spiritual companioning change in light of current safety recommendations? What are we invited to as we walk with individuals through one of the largest shared human experiences in generations?
As always, structuring our self-care to allow us to serve from a place of abundance is paramount. While we are not immune to anxiety, financial distress, or health concerns, it is important for our sakes’ and our directees’ that we continue to be in touch with the Infinite Resources available to everyone. Maintaining your own practices and disciplines during this time can allow a sense of continuity and consistency. It is also important to attend to your own health, physically and mentally. To “put on your own oxygen mask first,” so to speak. Are your needs being cared for? Are you getting a chance to exercise? Are you able to be outdoors at all? Or even by an open window for some portion of the day? Are you connecting with friends and loved ones? Are you continuing to eat well? What do you still need? How are you experiencing the Divine in these times? Now is an important time to be maintaining a supervision group as well. Continue to practice good self and ministry care for increased flexibility as new norms present themselves.
Structuring our self-care to allow us to serve from a place of abundance is paramount.
In terms of ministry, you may find that for a season many of your directees may need more psychological first aid than spiritual guidance. Right now many people need help with managing anxiety and adjusting to new ways of life. Companionship may take on a new form for a time. If it is safe and your local weather permits, consider meeting outside and maintaining recommended distance with directees if you still desire to be in person for sessions. Additionally for many of us, companionship may also mean exploring new mediums.
Virtual meetings will also likely grow in popularity in the coming months. Consider reaching out to colleagues who have been practicing virtually already to see what advice they may have to offer. Practice your digital skills by having virtual calls and “meetings” with family and friends. Ask them for feed back on your presence, pay attention to your own facial expressions, and practice trying not to look at yourself! Platforms such as Skype, Zoom, FaceTime and others still allow for a sense of being face-to-face. If you often incorporate music into your sessions, Jammer is one platform designed to not experience lag when trying to sing or chant together. If you are meeting with groups, setting up a simple Google Hangouts can allow you to share imagery easily and require less administration than sending logins to every participant. It is also possible to still have embodied sessions while remaining distant. Email directees coloring pages, art, or music links ahead of time so you can share in those mediums together during a session.
You may find that for a season many of your directees may need more psychological first aid than spiritual guidance.
Communicating a sense of presence and containment over the internet will require honing a new set of skills. Often we use a read of our directee’s body language as an indicator of unsaid emotion. Similarly, we use our own body language to communicate calm or attentiveness. When we only have faces, or in the case of a phone call only voices, we will need to lean into developing vocal tone, good facial affect, and grace for mediums that can at times feel artificial or impersonal compared to being physically together.
This is a new time for all of us. A season of what may feel like never-ending change. Some will find new practices to be most helpful, some will require the familiarity of the old. Many of us will be brought face-to-face with new depths as we come to the ends of ourselves, our expectations, and what we thought was normal. There will be deep grief and great joy. For all of us, there is a long road ahead. May we have grace, and may we do it together.
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