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Contemplative Spirituality

Spirituality for everyday life

Spiritual counselling is a working relationship that offers the benefit of someone’s, the spiritual counsellor’s, experience and history of their spiritual journey

It is not about giving and receiving advice about how the spiritual life should be led. It is a heartfelt process that, hopefully, illuminates the seeker’s mind and heart to discover the path that is personal for them. It is an inspirational journey with someone who listens well, does not command, but just offers themselves, to sometimes challenge, at times motivate, and always to support another’s quest to enter into what is sometimes called a relationship with that mystery that is the Eternal. The focus of our interaction is not on having and thinking, but on Being.

J. Brennan McLean

” It is a heartfelt process that, hopefully, illuminates the seeker’s mind and heart to discover the path that is personal for them. ”

A comment here about terminology. Many terms have been used such as God, the Father, Enlightenment, the Absolute Reality, the Ultimate Reality, Universal Consciousness, or the Present Moment. I will use the term the Eternal. You can use whatever term you are comfortable with.

What happens in a spiritual counselling session?

You’ll tell me where you are in your struggle to live a spiritual life and together we will explore your goals, the struggles in achieving these goals, and, from these conversations you will discern how to continue on the path.

A spiritual counsellor does not tell a person what to do. I will illuminate the barriers and stumbling blocks that I faced in my journey, and this might help you to see your path more clearly. Spiritual Counselling can assist a seeker in putting aside the barriers or stumbling blocks to living a life of contemplation. Understanding the impediments to a spiritual life is very important, and I’ve written a book on the kinds of barriers that can interfere with our journey. This book will be published later this year.

What is Contemplation?

Many of you have heard the word contemplation. It has become trendy to say that you contemplate, but it seems that genuine contemplation is a rare experience. Not all who seek spiritual counselling want to contemplate, and I also counsel those who do not wish to take the contemplative path. However, contemplation just refers to that relationship in, and a direct awareness of, the Eternal. It is the act of beholding the Eternal presence in silence and being lifted up by the presence and held. It is identical to what has been called mysticism or infused contemplation. It is not something we can achieve on our own as it is a gift. We do not control it or invite it through any method, technique, or ritual. I believe it is a matter of the heart and one’s intent. It is an indwelling presence that transforms who we are. To experience it is to be changed into someone new over time, with each experience. It can become an ongoing awareness of this indwelling presence that can, at times, overshadow all other things in one’s life. Some people describe it as an intimacy in the Eternal. I counsel people who want to contemplate, and those who live the contemplative life. Contemplation, in its purity, is not about any particular religious or spiritual belief system. It is tough to use words and concepts to describe it.

Is there any Assistance with Psychological Issues in Spiritual Counselling?

Coupling psychological counselling with spiritual counselling can be very useful. The experience of spirituality reveals things that are in the shadows of our life. When these things come to the surface in our counselling sessions, there is often need to understand what has happened. Psychological counselling can help us to grapple with what may have been at the root of the problem psychologically speaking.

Psychological counselling can help with:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • self-esteem
  • grief
  • lack of faith
  • childhood abuse traumas
  • lack of meaning in one’s life
  • an unfulfilled life
  • alcoholic parents
  • divorce or separation

Many people find that their childhood traumas interfere with the perseverance of the spiritual life. For example, the root of anxiety is often childhood abuse issues or childhood attachment (lack of love) issues. Too often we think that God is as punitive as our parents were. These kinds of beliefs, set in place in childhood, can become barriers to experiencing intimacy with the Eternal.

Psychological counselling can help bring the contents of one’s unconscious into the light of day. Early childhood traumas are often hidden in the unconscious and can plague a person’s attempt to become a full human being with meaning. Together, we can work through to uncover things from your past that may be barriers to your spiritual life.

Contact Me

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Professional and Other Credentials

I have a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Alberta in Sociology and Religious Studies. I also have a Master’s degree from York University, Toronto, in Environmental Studies (Study of Culture and Modernization). I am currently studying towards my Masters of Arts in Counselling (Psychotherapy) at Yorkville University.

As a Sociologist, I worked closely with Métis people in Alberta assisting them to adapt to the chaos associated with cultural change and modernization. I collaborated with the Edmonton Social Planning Council in developing community programs. All of these years, watching, learning, and growing with others inform my work as a spiritual counsellor.

For the last five years, I have been writing a book that focusses on the impediments to achieving a meaningful connection with the Eternal. This book will be published in the fall of 2017.

I have studied religion and spirituality all my adult life while seeking and on the journey to the Eternal.

Although I have a substantial amount of formal education, my greatest learning and growth has occurred in my relationship with the Eternal. This 13 year period since 2004 has given me insights into the barriers and stumbling blocks that prevent individuals from moving forward into the Eternal. This time since 2004 is what I call my contemplative life where I spend one to three hours per day in Silence. My experience has allowed me to live with peace and contentment, and I feel ready to offer myself to others so they too can dwell in these gifts.

Contact Me

Phone: 416-720-8319

Email: johnbrennan831@gmail.com

Skype sessions are available as well as face to face sessions for those of you in the Toronto area. My address near Bayview and Eglinton.