In the corner of our space is a large braided Fichus, a fig tree, we fondly call the Tree of Life. It has witnessed many seasons since our opening in 1996 as the Tree of Life Yoga Studio. As a yoga studio, we grew to serve many students and became the home and training ground for many aspiring teachers who would go on to share their gifts. In addition, in 2001, The Gifts of Grace foundation was founded to offer volunteerism to our community. Through the foundation, we offered many services including the making of over 300 quilts delivered to the Nashua District Office of the Division of Children, Youth and Families of the Department of Health and Human Services for distribution to local area foster care children.

In 2005, shortly after my ordination as an interfaith minister, I wanted to expand our mission to include a concentration on spiritual studies programs. For many years, I had facilitated a study of the Bhagavad Gita from which my book, An Ordinary Life Transformed: Lessons for Everyone from the Bhagavad Gita, emerged. I was ready to include additional programs. To reflect the expanded mission, we became the Tree of Life School for Sacred Living, LLC, in 2006. Since that time, I've created the following additional nine-month courses:

Living Our Purpose: The Heart of Spiritual Practice

Mantra Prayer Course

A Study of the Lord's Prayer and Beatitudes in Aramaic

Spiritual Mentoring Certification Program

A Study of Psalm 23

In 2009, The Tree of Life Interfaith Seminary, including paths for ordination as well as for independent study, was created as a natural outgrowth from the study and curriculum of the many spiritual studies programs. The mission of the interfaith seminary is to provide a new vision of ministry for the coming age and to offer a systematic methodology through which participants may realize, cultivate and offer their unique divine gifts in service to the greater good.

Welcome to The Tree of Life School for Sacred Living!

Rev. Stephanie Rutt, Director

Spiritual Studies Programs

A Creative Journey Through Psalm 23 in Hebrew

Psalm 23 is one of the most beloved Psalms of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). It makes a perfect circle beginning with the recognition of the deep care we receive from our Shepherd. Then, it guides us through our challenges, or valleys of shadow and death, and, finally, it leaves us transformed with the sweet awareness of the Goodness and Mercy that surely follows us all the days of our life.

In this 16 week study, you will learn the Psalm in Hebrew as well as explore its depths in a variety of creative ways. For each of the eight sections of the Psalm, one week will be dedicated to discussing the meaning, learning the Psalm in Hebrew, and to exploring a key word in Hebrew by examining the meaning of each letter. The second week we will engage in a variety of meditative practices, ie: guided visualization, journeying, mantra meditation, contemplative prayer, journaling and drawing to explore the lines in greater depth.

For those new to the study and wanting to learn more, you are invited to read The Lord is My Shepherd: Healing Wisdom of the Twenty-Third Psalm by Harold S. Kushner. For those having taken the study before, you may also use another translation of your choice. For those desiring to explore the Hebrew language in greater depth, you are invited to read The Book of Letters by Lawrence Kushner. I will also be providing a copy of my tangled book of the letters with accompanying biblical context and prayers.

The practice of Psalm 23 in Hebrew has had a profound impact on my life. It is a blessing to share it with you.

Class Dates: Thursday, January 14th - April 28th, 6:00 - 8:00 PM

Class size is limited to 10. Please register early!

Cost: $320 ($20 per class)

Interfaith Spiritual Practice Immersion

In our community, we are fond of saying many are the ways we pray to One God. Many might, in fact, say this and completely believe it so, yet it is not until we have immersed ourselves deeply into the spiritual practices across faith traditions that we may emerge with a visceral, intrinsic knowing that this is true. Now, our heart's experience has confirmed our mind's belief and we rest in some sweet gratitude only once imagined.

Using my book, Doorway to the Sacred: Transform Your Life with Mantra Prayer as our guide, we will examine and experience together the key spiritual practices from six of the world's major faith traditions: Judaism, Hinduism, Sufism, Buddhism, Christianity and Sikhism. We will also incorporate Shamanistic earth practices to support and enhance our journeys Home.

Participants will have assigned reading and Questions for Reflection to consider in preparation for our class discussions. Class time will incorporate personal sharing to support the majority of our time devoted to the immersion in spiritual practices.

Text: Doorway to the Sacred: Transform Your Life with Mantra Prayer. You may purchase directly from me at the first class, or before. Or you can order from Amazon.

Monday Evenings 6:00 - 8:00

12 Weeks, starts September 14th and ends December 7th (no class November 23rd)

Fee: $240

Limit 10! Kindly register ASAP with a $50 deposit (to be applied to the balance), or no later than Tuesday September 1st, 2015.

A Study of The Cloud of Unknowing

The Cloud of Unknowing was written by an anonymous author in the fourteenth century foreshadowing the Christian contemplative tradition which would later be joined by Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Therese of Lisieux and, in more contemporary times, by Thomas Merton, Father Thomas Keating and Cynthia Bourgeault. The text we will be using is The Cloud of Unknowing & the Book of Privy Counseling, edited by William Johnston with forward by Huston Smith.

As Huston describes, The Cloud of Unknowing has been called a mystical guide by many and its author a mystic, a theologian and a "director of souls." Here we are invited to transcend all thoughts and images allowing our "naked love" (naked because divested of thought) to rise upward toward God hidden in the cloud of unknowing. It is in sitting with this cloud of unknowing above, between us and God, and the cloud of forgetting below, between us all creatures, where we may find ourselves in silent mysticism.

And, we are left singing a hymn of love.

Participants will have assigned reading and Questions for Reflection to consider in preparation for our class discussions. We will also be integrating a variety of meditative spiritual practices to support and enhance our collective journey into the cloud of unknowing.

Tuesday Evenings, 6:00 - 8:00

12 Weeks, starts September 15th and ends December 8th (no class November 24th)

Fee: $240

Limit 10! Kindly register ASAP with a $50 deposit (to be applied to the balance), or no later than Tuesday, September 1st, 2015.

Spiritual Mentoring Certificate Program

The Spiritual Mentoring Certificate Program is especially designed for those wanting to cultivate the inner presence and skills helpful in offering mentoring to those in need. This program is open to ordained clergy, seminarians in training, mental health counselors and other professionals working with the public in capacities where mentoring skills may be considered useful. If you are interested in this program but do not find yourself in one of the above categories, please discuss with me your particular situation and, together, we can assess the appropriateness of this program for you.

What is Spiritual Mentoring

Spiritual Mentoring aims to deepen and strengthen mentees' experience of and relationship to the Divine in a way that is authentic and meaningful to mentees.

Helps mentees to name, understand and work with the problems, blocks, and patterns in their life by using spiritual perspectives, practices and tools.

Guides mentees to assume total self-responsibility, not for all that happens to them, but for how they choose to be with what happens.

Assists mentees in coming to know themselves as "whole" integrating all aspects of the self - physical, mental, emotional - with the Self - spiritual.

Helps mentees toward wholeness through the cultivation of inner compassion (heart), discernment (mind), and courage (action).

What Spiritual Mentoring is NOT

Spiritual Mentoring is NOT mental health counseling or psychotherapy. An important part of this training is to help those wanting to offer spiritual mentoring to be both clear and humble in recognizing and defining just where their skills lie and what the limits of those skills are. Should Spiritual Mentors find themselves with a mentee whose emotional, psychological or psychiatric needs are beyond their own skills and scope of training, they must be ready to refer the client to more appropriate care. In such cases, the mentee may also choose to continue with spiritual mentoring focusing on spiritual needs and concerns. In this way, a mentee may enjoy the benefits of a team approach to care.

Overview of the Course

The course is offered in five parts:

Part 1: Overview of the Spiritual Mentoring Practice: Substance and Structure

Part 2: Clinical Spiritual Mentoring Skills

Part 3: Incorporating Expressive Therapy Techniques

Part 4: Special Assessments and Referral Procedures

Part 5: Visioning and Designing Your Spiritual Mentoring Practice

In addition to the wide variety of information provided, participants will be given an opportunity in each class, beginning in October, to practice mentoring skills in triads - consisting of a mentee, mentor and observer. By experiencing each of these three roles, participants will slowly and effectively develop the skills and personal confidence to step into their unique expression of being a Spiritual Mentor.

Sample Topics Covered in the Spiritual Mentoring Certificate Program

Developing the mentor/mentee relationship - key areas of difference from the traditional psychotherapist/client relationship

Deep listening - qualities of presence - skills of attunement

Establishing healthy boundaries - tools for keeping interactions clear and clean

Basic skills: navigating the content-feeling continuum, reflecting feelings, restating information, questioning, offering reflections and interpretations, how-when to address core issues

Guiding the process of distilling the deeper spiritual lessons presented through the details, events and stories

Exploring transference and counter transference - why continuing your own spiritual and healing journey is critical

The use of expressive therapy techniques: visualization, meditation, journaling, drawing, and sand tray in the mentoring process

How to design and offer a spiritual practice for mentees

Differentiating spiritual desolation from clinical depression

Working with acute trauma, grief and loss

Overview of common mental health categories: anxiety, depression, substance abuse and addictions, compulsive behaviors, post traumatic stress disorder, cycle of violence, assault and abuse

When to refer a mentee for professional psychotherapy and how to establish a team support system for the mentee - and when it is important to refer a mentee for immediate care

Ethical issues - confidentiality and conditions for breaking confidentiality

Mentor self-care

For clergy or seminarians - envisioning and designing your Spiritual Mentoring practice - ethical, professional and practical issues

For non-clergy - envisioning how Spiritual Mentoring skills and tools may be integrated into your work environment

Schedule for Classes

The Spiritual Mentoring Certificate Program begins Saturday, October 3, 2015, 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. at the Sparrow's Nest, 263 Union Square, Milford, NH. We will meet over ten Saturdays on the following dates:

October 3rd and 31st

November - April: 3rd Saturday of each month (Nov. 21st, Dec. 19th, Jan. 16th, Feb. 20th, March 19th, April 16th)

May 7th and 21st

You may not miss more than two dates, for any reason, to remain in the program.

Upon Completion of the Program

Participants will graduate with a "Certificate in Spiritual Mentoring." For clergy or seminarians wanting to establish a Spiritual Mentoring practice, there will be the opportunity to envision and plan how the skills acquired might create and support such a practice under the auspice of a minister.

For those working in non-ministerial capacities, there will be an extensive amount of information and tools provided to support and compliment a variety of work environments.

*It is important to note that, because the program does not offer a second year in supervised clinical training and externship, those seeking to obtain State or federal licensure for a mentoring practice should investigate more extensive programs elsewhere.

Program Fee

$1,200.00* - Includes the Spiritual Mentoring Program Manual (*Persons who have taken this program may repeat for half price.)

$100 deposit, applied toward balance, required with application (see below) no later than Tuesday, September 1, 2015. A maximum of 12 will be accepted.

Fee may be paid in full via check or credit card.

Optional Payment Plan: $300 at first class Oct. 3rd, $300 November 21st, $300 January 16th, balance of $200 is due February 20th

Click here for a PDF application for the Spiritual Mentoring Certificate Program.

"The most valuable part of the course for me was the Clinical Spiritual Mentoring Skills - that which is necessary to be an effective mentor and establish a relationship of trust with a mentee. - Winnie Robichaud

"It was amazing to be able to participate in the triad sessions (mentor, mentee and observer) in all three roles - especially the observer - great teaching and learning in this role. I experienced a profound internal shift - from being unsure about my abilities to feeling confident in my skills." Debra Rosenblum

"Stephanie, I loved that you brought a holistic and spiritual twist to what I have always learned as the "counseling process." As a counselor, I feel that I now have the skills to delve deeper with my clients, into places where healing can really, truly happen. To hold a person in all of who they are - their thoughts, emotions, and their connection with the divine - is a beautiful gift. Thank you!" - Christy Finn

Spiritual Mentoring - Private Sessions

Spiritual mentoring sessions offered by Rev. Stephanie Rutt provide a blend of western behavioral science principles and eastern mysticism. Psychological thinking and behavioral patterns are explored within the context of the spiritual journey. Clients are asked to take an active role in the process and are often offered breathing exercises, meditation practices, journaling exercising, etc., to use in further exploration between sessions. Spiritual mentoring is different from traditional mental health counseling in that the client's psychological journey is seen as the doorway through which the spiritual journey may be realized. The goal is not treatment but rather enhanced awareness. The intention is not so much to fix something as it is to offer tools through which the client may transform unwanted life patterns into more harmonious ones.

The fee for each session is based on a sliding scale. To schedule an appointment, please call or e-mail Rev. Stephanie Rutt at 603-546-2320 or tolfellowship@aol.com.


Psalm 23 Study

Kosi R'vaya in Hebrew means, my cup runneth over, one of the most beloved phrases in this well known Psalm. And, how true it is that we discover our cup is overflowing as we step into the ancient sound current of the Hebrew language to find ourselves on holy ground answering the call of our Good Shepherd. In this workshop, we will explore and discuss the Psalm line by line as well as learn the Psalm in Hebrew as we go along. You will receive a booklet and CD to take home to continue practicing in the days following. We will joyously integrate meditation practices (walking, movement, mantra, silence, journaling) throughout the day to deepen our exploration. Come. Step. Follow. Who knows where the Good Shepherd may lead you.

Dates: Saturday, Novembeer 7th, 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM (Repeated Saturday, March 5, 2016)

Place: Our Lady of Hope-House of Prayer, 400 Temple Rd., New Ipswich, NH 03071

Fee: $40 (includes lunch)

To Register: Call 603-8782346 and ask for either Sister Rita Pay or Sister Suzanne Rivard no later than October 31st. Thank you!

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