Spiritual advice for a new generation
Our spirituality is one of the most precious and essential things we possess. For many years, I have wanted to write a column on how young people might cultivate their own sense of spirituality. Recently I read a book entitled “The Mystic Heart” by the late Brother Wayne Teasdale. There is one section toward the end of the book that is specifically devoted to providing spiritual direction for the young which I found to be particularly inspirational. What follows are 6 steps that can serve as guideposts for any young person, or a person of any age, to help develop a deeper sense of spirituality.
1. Take Responsibility for Your Own Spiritual JourneyWe are all ultimately responsible for our own spiritual journey. No one can walk our spiritual path for us. As Brother Teasdale says so eloquently, “we must stand up on our own two feet in the spiritual life.” We must not get so caught up in other’s spiritual journeys that we loose our own way spiritually. We all must find our own way to God, even though we are all on the journey together.
2. Find Good Role ModelsOur parents are often our first, and sometimes only, spiritual role models. If you are blessed enough to have parents who are se
rious about their spiritual life and practice what they preach, try to learn and integrate as much as you can from them. However, always remember that there are many spiritual role models out there, both good and bad. If your parents can’t serve as your spiritual role models, seek out others who appear to be practicing authentic spirituality and follow their example. We all need good teachers to grow spiritually .
3. Be Open to the Wisdom of All Spiritual TraditionsThere are many paths to God, and the various spiritual and religious traditions offer a wide array of wisdom and guidance as to how to proceed along the spiritual path. If you find that you don’t resonate with your parent’s spirituality or religion, don’t reject it, build upon it! Too many young people abandon their parent’s spiritual or religious tradition and never pursue any other. This is truly a tragedy!
Better to pursue and alternative path to God than no path at all.
4. Learn to be In the World, Not of It- It is critically important to transcend the many, often negative, influences of popular culture in order to make better decisions regarding your own inner life. In order to find your own spiritual path, you will need to turn down all of the cultural noise around you to become able to hear God’s still voice within you. It is only in this manner that we can gain proper perspective on the many undue influences that our society, and the people in it, have in helping us form our opinions about a variety of things, especially our spirituality! It is only through turning down the noise that we can become clear regarding our own inner spiritual values.
5. Don’t Succumb to the Culture of Cynicism and Despair- As Brother Teasdale says, “cynicism and despair are diseases of the spirit.” Cynicism and despair restrict our freedom and undermine our sense of meaning and purpose in life. Always embrace hope. Wayne Dyer one said
“None of us knows enough to be a pessimist.” Dare to be different and practice love, kindness, and compassion to others rather than only thinking about your own needs. It is in service to others that we find our deepest sense of fulfillment and peace, and our deepest sense of spirituality. Don’t ever sacrifice this to the Culture of Selfishness that so often pervades our society.
6. Embrace SilenceSome wise person once said that silence is the language of God. If this is true, and I strongly believe it is, then there is a major disconnect between God’s language and the language that our popular culture speaks. If we are to truly hear God’s voice, we must cultivate an appreciation for quiet and stillness in our lives. This can take many forms including meditation, spending time alone in nature, or various forms of prayer and contemplation. The most important thing is just to make time each day to be quiet and still. If you do, you will open the door to God’s word and presence. Once you do, your life will never be the same again!
Dr. Angelini is a licensed psychologist and a business and personal coach. He has been in practice for over 30 years. He specializes in assisting individuals in finding and sustaining careers that are rewarding, life-enhancing, and in keeping with their personal and spiritual values. He can be reached by email at rayan[email protected] live.com or you may visit his website at https:// drrayangelini.com.
Dr. Ray Angelini