The Search for Vitality and Ways Spiritual Direction Can Help
“I’ve had more energy around work this past month, but I’m worried because I feel some of that old intensity coming back. I want to continue experiencing the vitality of living from my centered self. I’m afraid that I will slip back into the old patterns of working harder and harder and burn out again.”
After hearing these words, I invited my companion to enter a time of silent prayer. We sat together quietly and the words vitality and intensity played over and over in my mind. When we gently exited the silence, I asked my companion to describe what vitality and intensity feel like.
“Vitality feels like creativity, energy and passion. It just flows. I’m not worried about the outcome. Intensity, on the other hand, feels more like fear. Am I doing enough? When will the work or event be over, so that I can feel at peace again and relax? “
So I asked what she had been noticing about vitality in her life.
“I can set my intention in the morning to work out of vitality, but feel the intensity creeping back in throughout the day. Then I drink more coffee and keep doing more and more at work. I start fearing burn out and slipping back into old patterns.”
Feeling Alive and Activated
What my companion may not realize at this point is that she is not alone. I have similar conversations with others I meet in spiritual direction. Sometimes people use different words to reflect on the desire for vitality and the creep of intensity. What I notice to be common in the stories is that there is something Spirit-filled, life giving and new about approaching life with vitality. There is excitement and energy that exudes from those who choose to live wholeheartedly. The vital life is not tightly controlled, but open to adventure. Vital discipleship looks like a willingness to follow the call of God without a complete understanding of where the journey might lead. That hope and expectation leaves one feeling alive and activated.
Spiritual Directors as a Resource
So how can we find help choosing vitality when we feel intensity rising up within us? I believe conversations with spiritual directors to be an excellent resource. Sometimes a companion can help us begin noticing the intensity and taking a few deep breaths. That alone may be enough to slow us down and allow us to turn towards vitality with God again. Spiritual directors often help people settle into daily spiritual practices like reading, prayer and time in nature that may help us to focus on God and what is life giving and energizing in our lives. My experience tells me monthly conversations with an attentive companion like a spiritual director, helps us reflect and move deeper into our life with God. Combining some or all of the above steps allow us time to learn, integrate and practice living a life of vitality.
How do we want to live our one, beautiful life? I think the answer is vitality and is a common thread across many spiritual direction conversations. Consider giving yourself a place to unpack and examine your life as someone else listens attentively to you and holds up a mirror for what God might be saying. Perhaps the time is now for you to create space in which what has seemed hidden or unclear might drop into your lap. The next steps on this journey are toward a life of vitality.
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