ISM Facilitator Training
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The year-long ISM Facilitator certification program is designed for those who wish to deepen their own practice and to guide individuals or small groups in the practice of the seven-step process of InterSpiritual Meditation.  Each month and via the ISM course website, trainees will join with a mutually supportive cohort to work with certified InterSpiritual Mentors and Facilitators and Ed Bastian.   Here are seven elements of this training program. 

  1. Deepen in each of the ISM 7-Steps.
  2. Learn to honor, harness and harmonize our personal Spiritual Styles for spiritual and contemplative development.
  3. Fully utilize the content, tools and functions of the ISM course website, including the journey, styles profile, practice circles, and custom search engine.
  4. Learn to lead InterSpiritual Meditation sessions.
  5. Engage in a practicum, working with a individual or small group, under the guidance of a ISM mentor or facilitator.
  6. Learn how to facilitate ISM for others using the ISM books and online course content and resources.
  7. Join with a mutually supportive cohort of learners and practitioners.


To qualify for this program, applicants will fulfil the following requirements:

  • Complete the application form
  • Be formally accepted into Facilitator Training Program.
  • Complete and actively participated in-person or online course on InterSpiritual Meditation.
  • Complete their Spiritual Styles Profile Instrument.
  • Engage in journaling about their seven-steps and spiritual styles.
  • A minimum of a 1,000 word summary or equivalent expression covering all of the seven steps and if/how you harnessed your style(s) for each.
    (This should be drawn from the online or written journal.  It will provide an initial waypoint for the upcoming meditative journey..
  • An offering of $150 or an amount that is affordable for you.  This will help defray some of the costs for the program.
    (The offering can be proportionate to your ability to pay.  For Latin American applicants, contact Alex Warden, )

Requirements for Certification

To gain ISM Facilitator certification, trainees will complete the following:

  • Trainees will attend monthly group mentoring training sessions with Ed Bastian and mentors.
  • Trainees will engage with a mentor of their choice in one individual mentoring session and one session with with Ed Bastian.
  • Each trainee will practice facilitating the 7-Step Process with at least one individual or one small group under the guidance and supervision of a certified InterSpiritual Mentor. 
  • All trainees and the people they are working with should become members of the ISM online course website. 
  • Each trainee will use the journal on our website to write about each of their 7 Steps of ISM and their Spiritual Styles.
  • Trainees will actively engage in the Practice Circles for each of the seven ISM Steps.
  • Trainees will write a 2,500 word capstone paper and/or other significant form of expression that aligns with their spiritual styles.  These capstone projects should  that documents their experience and understanding of each of the seven ISM steps.  

Capstone Paper or Project

Each member of the training cohort will complete a 2,500 word capstone paper and/or other significant form of expression that includes the following:

  • A summary the wisdom gained from at least three spiritual/secular sources/traditions for each of the steps. 
  • A summary of how they are harnessing and harmonizing at least three spiritual styles. 
  • A summary of the contemplative practice they have developed for each of the seven steps.
  • A summary of their work helping others to learn and practice ISM.
  • If a creative project is presented, it should be accompanied by a written overview and rationale.  If the above points are not included in the creative project itself, they can be summarized in this written statement.

Guidelines for Leading an ISM Meditation

Following are the general guidelines for leading an InterSpiritual Meditation Session.  Facilitators will cultivate the following procedures and nuances for working with individuals and groups.

  • The meditation facilitator creates a soft, compassionate and ‘contemplative container’ that honors the diversity of beliefs, styles and practices of the participants.  Out of respect for the spiritual and secular diversity of our participants, we are careful not to use a name for God or specific names of deities and truths that are associated with specific religions. 
  • The feeling tone of the meditation should be soft, inviting and not too ‘heady.’  An opening meditation session should establish a loving and contemplative foundation for follow-up group interactions.
  • Begin by stating the mission and purpose of ISM, reminding students that they should create their own personal focus for each step.
  • Introduce each step by name and a very brief introductory sentence.
  • Use a gong or bell to separate each step 
    (If leading the meditation online or via a phone, the gong should have a deep (not high or shrill) resonance and be at least a foot away from the microphone.  An appropriate App might also be used.
  • A very short inspirational poem or stanza might be used to begin each step to help participants deepen into their personal practice.
    (The choice personalizes the meditation according to leader, but is not overtly directive.)
  • Remind the participants to bring forth their own focus for each step.  Their focus might come from a specific spiritual or secular teaching or a personal formulation.
  • Singing the ISM mantra – song at the end, or beginning of the 7 steps.  (This will depend on the context, the quality of the Facilitator’s singing voice, and the time for the overall meditation.)
  • As a general rule, the verbal guidance should not exceed 1/3 of the allotted time for each step.  The leader should not feel compelled to over-lead or to fill up the silence with their own voice.
  • In a 20-minute meditation, the contemplative steps of 1,2,3,4 and 7 are about 2 minutes each. The meditation steps of 5 & 6 are about 4 minutes each with the beginning verbal guidance at a maximum of 30 – 40 seconds.  We are guiding participants into their own silent practice rather than dictating their focus.

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Touchstones for InterSpiritual Discussions and Mentoring

The primary language of InterSpiritual dialog and mentoring is shared silence. We support each other through our compassionate listening and minimal words or gestures of respect and gratitude.  Compassionate listening and silence are the soothing elixirs that place each spiritual perspective on a neutral, reciprocal ground. In silence we are liberated from our fixed religious or non-religious identities and the words that distinguish one truth from another. We celebrate and welcome the diversity of our respective spiritual styles, traditions, racial, gender, and ethnic diversity. Separately and jointly we experience a wordless quality or essence of being that unites us.  Our rigid identities soften and become porous to the love and wisdom of others.

When I am liberated by silence, when I am no longer involved in
the measurement of life, but in the living of it, I can discover a
form of prayer in which there is effectively no distraction.
— Thomas Merton

When we enter into contemplative conversation with each other it is helpful if we begin with meditation, then we welcome the silent pauses between sentences and maintain this same gentle and kind quality of being referenced by Thomas Merton. Openness implies vulnerability, therefore we must take great care with our intentions and our words. Opening up to and with each other is rare and delicate occurrence. Therefore we take great care not to cause another person’s shy inner self to recede back into the shadows of their consciousness. We create a safe and supportive container within which this contemplative process can unfold.

Here is a set of guidelines I have compiled to help us help each other. It is based on fifteen years of work with contemplative teachers from many traditions with the Spiritual Paths Foundation.

  • Embrace silence as a common language and the elixir of shared experience.
  • Don’t feel compelled to teach.  In this process we are not guides or gurus but friends.
  • Cultivate the art of the question rather than the urge to provide answers.
  • Our job is to help others to discover, honor and harness their spiritual styles and questions for their personal spiritual and contemplative practices.
  • Genuinely celebrate and honor the diversity of all spiritual traditions.
  • Soften the personal boundaries of fixed identity of your own religion and belief system and open your heart for sincere sharing and learning from the experiences of others.
  • Expand your exclusive identity to one that is inclusive and universal.
  • Do not respond to a statement by another person with disagreement, agreement, or affirmation. Simply listen compassionately, allowing the statement of another to rest in contemplative reflection and silence. We might offer a word or gesture of respect, ‘I hear you’ and gratitude.
  • Refrain from imposing or projecting your personal views on others’ traditions, beliefs, or practices on others.
  • Do not try to speak for another person’s spiritual tradition or practice.
  • Refrain from imposing a single universal truth on all religions and spiritual traditions that might not be shared by the traditions themselves or the person with whom you are working.
  • If you belong to a specific tradition, speak “from” it rather than “for” it.
  • Be careful not to misappropriate, or lift out of context, a specific practice from one tradition and graft it onto another tradition or your practice without knowing its indigenous meaning.
  • Engage in compassionate listening to elicit the experience and wisdom within each individual.

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