Essence 2023 Workshops

Workshop Details

Our workshops will be held on Thursday, May 4, and Friday, May 5, 2023 between 2:30 PM and 5:30 PM.

Workshop durations run from 90-180 minutes each.

To register for the conference and make your workshop selections, click the register button below.

Day 1 Workshops (A)

Thursday, May 4, 2023 - (2:30 PM - 5:30 PM)

All times listed are in CDT. To convert to your own timezone, refer to this timezone converter.


Shmutz Sweeping: Waking Up to the Light and Dark Shadow of Ourselves, Life, and the Divine

Never has the call to awaken been so urgent. There is much darkness in our world. We are learning more all the time how becoming aware of and integrating our shadow serves humanity. What are the spiritual practices that help us to wake up? How can spiritual direction, working with our dreams, and reflection on ourselves and our lives assist us? In this workshop, participants will be invited to consider ‘shmutz-sweeping’ and awakening to our light shadow as sacred spiritual practice. We will learn more about those aspects of ourselves we don’t like. Our less-than-wonderful characteristics are revealed in dreams, through the messes we make in our lives, and through our obsessions. We will also learn about our light shadow, those wonderful aspects of our psyches calling for integration. We will reflect on shmutz sweeping as a daily practice.

Jinks (Jennifer) Hoffmann

Jinks Hoffmann is a spiritual director, psychotherapist and grandmother to 19 beloved grands and twelve great-grands. Poetry editor of SDI, Jinks has had two books published. The first was published by WIPF and Stock and is called It’s All God, Anyway: Poetry for the Everyday. The second, The Light of God’s Shadow: Musings, Stories and Poems on Waking Up was published in 2022 by SDI Press. This workshop brings together the themes of Jinks’ book and explores them through poetry, conversation and experiential invitations. Jinks served on the Coordinating Council from 2008-2014.

Kristen Hobby

Dr. Kristen Hobby is a spiritual director, author and meditation teacher based in Singapore. She has been an active member of SDI since attending her first conference in Vancouver in 2004. Kristen has helped to present workshops at the Parliament of the World’s Religion in Melbourne, served for six years on the SDI Coordinating Council and written Spiritual Direction in Australia: Research and Practice. In 2018, Kristen completed her doctoral thesis on the topic of the spirituality of young children.


Sufi Mystics and Practical Spirituality

In this workshop we shall glean wisdom from Sufi sages like Rumi, Hafiz and Rabia to help us live a life of meaning, joy and fulfillment. We shall explore insights and practices that we can weave into our daily life. The aspiration is to expand mind, enlighten heart and create a circle of spiritual companions in our life.

Jamal Rahman

Imam Jamal Rahman is a popular speaker and author on Islam, Sufi spirituality, and interfaith relations. Along with his Interfaith Amigos, he has been featured in The New York Times, CBS News, BBC, and various NPR programs. Jamal is co-founder and Muslim Sufi Imam at Interfaith Community Sanctuary in Seattle, Washington, and adjunct faculty at Seattle University. He travels nationally and internationally, presenting at retreats and workshops. Jamal’s passion lies in interfaith community building and activism.


Companioning Mother Earth

Those working as spiritual companions/counselors/directors may have seen significant and escalating changes in what our companions are bringing in—angst relating to climate crises, mass extinctions, ecogrief, fear of bringing children into this world. A common response is to rely on how we have dealt with natural disasters in the past. But the risks today are far greater than any we have ever experienced—and that for the first time in the history of the earth, our entire global ecosystem, including us, is in danger of collapse. To hold space for this, we need to be able to reconnect with our deep love of Gaia, explore cosmic and microbial perspectives, redefining how we see our role as one species among many. Participants will be guided through experiential practices designed to rekindle our love of Nature, seeing Spirit throughout, all while immersing our souls in the Natural World.

Ed O'Malley

Rev. Dr. Ed O’Malley is an ordained Interfaith/Interspiritual Minister, trained Shaman, certified Nature Awareness Trainer and former Senior Dean in the One Spirit ISC Program. Rev. Ed offers programs designed to foster direct experience of Spirit, through instilling a deep, abiding awareness of the Immensity of the Natural World. He has a profound appreciation, respect and love for Nature.

As an ordained Interfaith/Interspiritual Minister, Shaman and Naturalist, Ed helps people to expand their spiritual awareness by reacquainting them with their own Divine Nature through practices centered on “Meeting Soul in Nature”. His current role is as creator and Facilitator of the new Interspiritual Companioning and Counseling program at One Spirit.


Spiritual Companionship with People in Prison

Have you felt called to offer spiritual companioning to people in prison, but weren’t sure if you had what it takes, or didn’t know where to begin? This workshop will help you discern your call and give you the knowledge you need to take the next steps. We’ll begin by looking at the particular qualities needed to be a spiritual companion inside a correctional facility. Then we’ll explore what it’s like to work inside the prison, where and how the interactions take place, and the particular challenges and ethical considerations. We’ll look at useful skills to have or develop. Along the way there will be a lot of stories, and plenty of time for questions and discussion.

Baya Clare

Baya Clare has a Master’s in Theology and a graduate certificate in spiritual direction from St. Catherine University in Saint Paul, Minnesota. She began teaching courses, giving workshops, offering retreats and providing spiritual direction in federal and state prisons, county jails and juvenile facilities in 2011. In 2016 she co-founded a non-profit prison education organization, Free Inside Prisoner Education, and she has worked as its Program Director, creating workshops and retreats for use by volunteers since then. In addition to her prison work and spiritual companioning practice, Baya is also an artist.


Essence and Enneagram

There is increasing interest in using the Enneagram for Spiritual Direction. Whether a novice or expert in Enneagram studies, our time together will offer experiences of both type and Essence, to understand more fully, who we are and who we are not.

We begin and explore presence as a first step toward Essence. Observing how easily Essence disappears, we discuss the Ego Ideal; what we believe is our best self, but it’s a false narrative that distances us from Essence. Understanding the ego ideal sets up our understanding of how we engage in “othering,” where we’ve decided that others are different from us! This awareness takes us into DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Belonging) conversations that are currently front and center in our lives.
Yet, we are one. So, a discussion of our Holy Virtue and Holy Idea bring us to an experience of our Essence and concludes the workshop.

Sandra Smith

Sandra Smith, MDiv, is a Spirirtual Director, Certified Narrative Enneagram teacher and an International Enneagram Association Accredited Professional. For over 20 years, Sandra has taught the Enneagram internationally as a tool for personal, professional and spiritual development. She co-hosts the podcast, “Heart of the Enneagram” and offers spiritual direction with the Enneagram. Her life experiences as a female, identity as a lesbian, love for Earth, and commitment to equity and inclusion shape her teaching and consulting.

Erlina Edwards

In addition to being a graduate of All Faiths International Seminary in New York, Erlina is a licensed Minister, fully accredited Spiritual Director, and a certified International Enneagram Professional. Her training and skills served her well as Director of Human Resources at Intuit and, later, as Senior Vice President at Community Brands. Currently, she is Board Chair for The Narrative Enneagram, an international educational non-profit. Erlina resides with her husband in Tucson, Arizona.


Created for Joy: Joy as an Act of Sacred Resistance

Teilhard has written, “Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God,” and Dorothy Day pointed out, “How necessary it is to cultivate a spirit of joy. I believe we are called to the duty of delight.” Especially in times when it is easy to become overwhelmed by the enormous suffering in our world, when the forces of violence, hatred, and despair threaten to tear us apart, choosing and cultivating joy becomes a powerful act of sacred resistance in the face of these forces. In this workshop, we will be guided by two great exemplars of joy – His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu – to learn about what they called the “8 Pillars of Joy” – qualities of heart and mind that open us to the deep joy that is both our true nature and our gift and blessing to the world.

Diane Berke

Rev. Diane Berke is the Founder and Spiritual Director of One Spirit Learning Alliance, based in New York City. Ordained in 1988, she is a widely respected pioneer in the field of interfaith and interspiritual education. Diane has frequently taught with Andrew Harvey in his Institute for Sacred Activism, is a certified facilitator of the Circle of Trust® work of the Center for Courage and Renewal, and is a member of the Evolutionary Leaders Circle. In 2020, she was invited by Contemplative Life and Prosocial World to co-develop and facilitate a training program in Prosocial Spirituality through a grant from the Templeton Religion Trust. Diane maintains a private practice in spiritual companionship and has led retreats and workshops on spiritual development throughout the United States and internationally. She is also a licensed mental health counselor in New York State.


Knowing our Bias to Know the All

The mystic seeks union with the All. But what if implanted biases block our access to experiencing the real truth of the All? How might we dissipate the clouds of projection, warped by cultural prejudices, that cloud our view of the All?

We’ll engage embodied and imaginal methods to unearth our hidden mental frameworks and gain opportunities to be more inclusive with ability, gender, and race. Local Zen dharma teachers will lead us in sacred chant; Sufi musicians will play for our Dance of Universal Peace (all body adaptations welcome), and Shannon will guide a meditation in nature (this workshop will go outside). During each spiritual practice, mind-body awareness prompts will help us examine and expand our knowing of the Essence of the All. We’ll reflect on how our experience informs our intentions moving forward with our own spiritual journey, our faith group, and/or our directees.

Note: The presenter invites you to take a few Harvard implicit bias tests (of your choice) before the workshop, if you wish to come with a more personal understanding.

Shannon Gorres

Shannon Gorres, MDiv, MA, BCC, is a spiritual director, board certified chaplain, and nature therapy guide on Kanza lands near Lawrence, Kansas. She companions people through pain and disconnection into an integrative and loving relationship with themselves and the world. She engages embodied spiritual practices, nervous system science, trauma-healing techniques, imaginal and nature elements. She works on a continuum between therapy and spiritual awakening, honoring the ancient and orienting toward the present sacred beauty. A mother, poet, and queer, she is deeply embracing a hurting world and mending the ruptures that deter us from knowing divine love. Her roots and practices are: Catholic, Progressive Protestant, Yogic, Buddhist, and Universalist Sufi.


The Heart of Resilience

Our world is undergoing a significant transformation — and with it, an increasing hardships are piling one on top of another. Yet, a powerful question is present within each of them: How do we maintain an open heart when all it wants to do is close and be safe? This workshop intensive will provide an experiential journey into many of the most difficult elements of life. We will experience those challenges within the sacred expansiveness of the heart. We will also engage with the multiple hearts that we experience: the individual heart, the shared relationship heart, the group heart, and the global heart. And what will result is an experience of how the open heart is the space where our resilience is found.

Khadijah Matin

Rev. Dr. Khadijah Matin has established a solid record of commitment to education and faith-based organizations, serving in multiple leadership roles. Building upon her interests in her family history and social justice work, Khadijah’s work looks at the role family and faith history plays as identity and transformation models. Along with her experience in nonprofit governance, and in recognition of her works in intercultural dialogue and civic engagement she was appointed as an Ariane de Rothschild Fellow. Khadijah has an MS from Fordham University; certificates from One Spirit Seminary (2006); ISC Program (2010). She earned her D.Min. In 2012, from New York Theological Seminary, in Multi-faith ministry. Always inspired by her children, Khadijah is called by some as a “woman who walks through walls” and calling as a continuation of her family’s traditions, fulfilling the social justice dreams of her ancestors.

Nathan Brisby

Rev. Nathan Brisby is an ordained Interfaith Minister and Interspiritual Companion. He co-leads the Interspiritual Counseling and Companioning program at One Spirit Learning Alliance. As a spiritual teacher, he focuses on the depth of the heart, leading workshops on a variety of topics, including building spirituality in the workplace, self-care practices, Biblical studies for the LGBTQIA+ experience, mindful leadership, leading change, compassion fatigue, giving and receiving feedback, meditation as social change, mindful leadership, high impact communication, dismantling white supremacy, and many others. He has worked professionally in the performing arts, organizational development, human resources, and animal welfare spaces. Nathan founded a not for profit, Broadway Gives Back, which connects non-profit organizations with the Broadway community. He is also a certified grief counselor He grew up in a deeply evangelical Christian home, going back for generations. He currently lives in Montrose, NY with his husband, Stephen, and their two chihuahuas.


Bardic Blessing: Song as Prayer

According to Greek mystic Pythagoras, “The highest goal of music is to connect one’s soul to their divine nature.” More than mere entertainment, music is a powerful agent for transformation, both personal and collective; song can call us into opening, attune our hearts to a shared rhythm, and stir us to deepen our connection with self, other, and the divine.

In the Celtic Bardic tradition, music is understood to be a divine gift, intrinsically linked with community-based rituals and with individual spiritual practice. Music belongs to and arises from each of us, regardless of our training—we all carry soul-songs.
This participatory workshop will consist largely of shared music and shared contemplative silence, including the opportunity to experience audio divina, deep listening as a form of prayer, and to optionally join in chanting and song, exploring the power of breath and voice to awaken the soul and foster deep connection.

Simon de Voil

Reverend Simon Ruth de Voil is an interfaith/interspiritual musical minister, trained to be a sacred presence outside the conventions of traditional religion. As a musician, spiritual mentor and worship leader he incorporates chant, ritual, poetry, storytelling, and mindful practice to create a space for profound connection and sacred witness.

Simon is an accomplished musician and songwriter with 20 years of experience as a performer. For the last 15 years, though, Simon’s focus and calling has been in sacred music. This grew out of his work at Iona Abbey, and has since led him to provide music for worship, ceremony, and prayer in a wide variety of churches and non-religious spiritual communities. He particularly loves to create music for meditation, healing services, and rites of passage.


The Nexus Between Spiritual Direction and Science

In this in this comprehensive follow on to their morning keynote presentation, Ilia Delio, James Stump, Cortland Dahl, and Mohammed Hamid Mohammed will deepen their exploration of the relationship between spiritual direction/companionship and science.  Various aspects will be examined including the connections between evolution, physics, neuroscience, and theology; science and intelligent design; and the neuroscience of meditation and contemplative practices. The impact of all of these, among others, on our practice of spiritual direction and companionship will be discussed in this interactive session, with plenty of opportunities for questions and answer, and dialogue.

Ilia Delio

Ilia Delio, OSF, PhD, Founder of the Center for Christogenesis, is a Franciscan Sister of Washington, DC and American theologian specializing in the area of science and religion, with interests in evolution, physics and neuroscience and the import of these for theology.

Ilia currently holds the Josephine C. Connelly Endowed Chair in Theology at Villanova University, and is the author of twenty books. Ilia holds PhDs in Pharmacology from Rutgers University and in Theology from Fordham University, as well as two honorary doctorates, one from St. Francis University in 2015, and one from Sacred Heart University in 2020.

James Stump

James Stump is Vice President of Programs at BioLogos. He oversees the editorial team, participates in strategic planning, and hosts the podcast, Language of God. Jim also writes and speaks on behalf of BioLogos. He has a PhD in philosophy and was formerly a professor and academic administrator. His books include, Four Views on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design; Science and Christianity: An Introduction to the IssuesHow I Changed My Mind about Evolution; and The Blackwell Companion to Science and Christianity.

Cortland Dahl

Cortland Dahl is the Chief Contemplative Officer and Healthy Minds Innovations Research Scientist at the Center for Healthy Minds, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Cortland is interested in exploring the interface between the body, mind and brain, and especially in the question of how various forms of meditation may help us cultivate positive qualities like mindfulness, compassion and resilience.

His current work focuses on studying the psychological and neural mechanisms of different families of meditation practice. He is also the creator of the Healthy Minds program, a well-being training program that integrates insights from scientific research with a comprehensive path of contemplative training.

Cortland has an eclectic background and has spent years studying and practicing meditation in Asia, including eight years living in Tibetan refugee settlements in India and Nepal. He has published numerous collections of translations of classic works on meditation and Buddhist philosophy from the Tibetan tradition. In addition to his work with the Center, Cortland is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Tergar International, a global network of meditation groups and centers.

Mohammed Mohammed

Mohammed Hamid Mohammed is a senior program officer at the Fetzer Institute where he leads a portfolio of projects that focuses on the relationship between science and spirituality, spirituality and technology, and spirituality and health. Recent projects he is helping shape and manage include a longitudinal global human flourishing study, research on free will, and a mindfulness app that was named in the top three of its class by the New York Times. As part of his pursuit, he has co-authored articles in peer-reviewed journals and edited volumes. His publications include “Communities and Freedom: Transforming Governance” in Why Love Matters: Values in Governance and “Enabling Community and Trust: Shared Leadership for Collective Creativity” in The Foundation Review. Trained in the humanities, social sciences, and human-computer interactions, Mohammed is a philanthropy professional with decades of experience leading research, technology development, and programmatical projects around the world. He has worked in the academic and the corporate sectors before transitioning to philanthropy. Mohammed is an international traveler conversant in various languages, cultures, and spiritual traditions.


Writing Workshop #1

SDI favorite Tania Casselle, our conference Writer-In-Residence, will lead a two part workshop on all aspects of the writing process, from ideas, to writing techniques, and all the way through the publication process for spiritual directors and companions.  More details coming soon.  Tania will also be available for 1/1 consultations throughout the conference (signups for these consults also available soon)

Tania Casselle

Tania Casselle has been a writer and editor for 25+ years, published in books, magazines, newspapers and online media in the US, Europe and Asia. She is a committee chair for the American Society of Journalists & Authors and a senior teacher and mentorship director for the Sage Institute online Meditation & Mindfulness Leader training program. Her nonfiction, fiction, poetry and radio work have been recognized in numerous awards and anthologies. She holds a Masters in Transpersonal Psychotherapy, follows a contemplative path in the Zen Buddhist and Christian mystic traditions, and is an alumnus of Fr. Richard Rohr’s Living School for Action and Contemplation. As a writing coach and teacher, she works with people individually and in seminars and writing retreats in person and online. She helps writers on every level, teaching not just the craft and business of writing, but also exploring the deeper creative and spiritual impulse, helping writers free their natural writing voices and navigate internal blocks. A Brit from London, Tania lives in New Mexico.


Spiritual Direction Educational Leaders Gathering

If you are teacher or educator of spiritual directors and/or spiritual companions, please sign up for this gathering to connect with others in the field, exchange ideas, ponder the future of educational and training programs, and consider the many rapid developments challenging and inviting educational leaders.  More details coming soon.