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PDF The Teenage Compass: A Clear Road Map for the Young Who are Spiritually Aware

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Children of all ages can benefit from meditation, even elementary school-aged children. Numerous books are available to help younger children develop the art of mindfulness, including Planting Seeds: I recently learned of a wonderful resource for younger children and will write further about this topic in another article soon. It is very clear that the culture of schools must change in ways that reduce stress on children and teens.


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Whether students feel pressured to score high on standardized tests or burdened by poverty and violence, their mental health is similarly at risk. And, by the way, it significantly lowered truancy and suspensions too! Watch this and be inspired! Yet we know that meditation creates more contentment, less anxiety, and the ability to better overcome challenging life problems.

Meditation and mindfulness practices can help. The meditation I did inside and outside of Happy Class was the impetus that caused me to start making healthy changes in my life. Meditation was a step forward in which I acknowledged to myself that I needed help dealing with my stress. These are wise words from a young woman who learned how to meditate in ninth grade. In fact, they should speak to all of us who experience the stresses of everyday life. If we create cultures where young people can quiet themselves from the busy world, observe their thoughts and feelings, listen to their values, and decide with intentionality on their actions, we will surely nurture healthier and happier children.

Reclaiming the Power of Citizenship for a New Generation. A developmental psychologist and researcher, she writes for Psychology Today and Edutopia on positive youth development, K education, and family-school-community partnerships. All young people cope with stress in one form or another. B — Breathing deeply and slowing down.

Guiding Meditation for Teenagers

L — Listening to your values. Everywhere on earth, everyone understands our foundational interconnectedness, our foundational oneness, physically and at the level of consciousness or spirit, that we are all part of one life force. We understand this with or without the free expression of religion, as in China. In fact, in China, the rates on all five of these phenotypes were higher than in the United States. The second phenotype was love; love, not merely as an emotion like happiness, but like a force, an ontologically real force. The other phenotypes were a practice of transcendence, prayer, a mind-body practice, meditation; altruism, which you might consider perhaps prayer in action; a sacred and an examined life, often within a faith tradition, although not always, with limits and a binding moral code of who we are in relationship to ultimate reality.

These five phenotypes are found around the world, but there is an interesting catch. In every other country where we have looked, the more educated we become, the more years of higher education, the more spiritually aware we become across all five phenotypes. But uniquely, in the United States over large samples of people, the more educated we become, the less spiritually attuned and aware we become. This is the cultural tidal wave of our time. So what does this mean for adolescence? It is the primacy of direct knowing. Through spiritual individuation, the spiritual core is formed, from which all other lines of development seem to flow.

Life is different with and without a spiritual core: I am good at football, I am good at math, but I am not good at English, and I am so-so at tennis: A being of inherent worth, a soul on earth, as a teen searches for meaning, for purpose, for calling. All of the good stuff and all of the bad stuff I have been given are endowments toward fulfilling my calling. The day that I get a C, that is just noise in the overall trajectory towards fulfilling my purpose.

The day that I get a C when all I am is good at math is a crushing day. It is not surprising, then, given the primacy of the spiritual path as opposed to being a bag of parts, that a strong spiritual core is associated with terrific character strengths and virtues. We see that the child who has grit, optimism, and meaning is highly spiritually aware. The child with low grit, low optimism, and low meaning is not spiritually connected.

There is an exception, but overall, the general rule is that a spiritual root in the core and character strengths and virtues go hand in hand. About one in five in our country are virtuous humanists. What is my contribution in light of my relationship to ultimate reality? It is a way of moving into this cultural wave in an inclusive, open-armed format, and having a spiritually based discussion in publically funded places.

Every single child knows right from wrong. It may be irresistible at any given moment.

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For instance, when the new baby came home, my beloved oldest child, Isaiah, was so excited. He bestowed great gifts upon the baby—his favorite blanket, his favorite foods, and his most cherished Thomas the Train. So he knew; his compass was intact. He was born with that compass and he had it. It was irresistible at that moment not to follow it. Enthusiasm for prayer and ceremony. Every child loves prayer, loves ceremony, of all faith traditions.

Spiritual AWAKENING ~ An UNBELIEVABLE Spiritual Experience

Relationships with all living beings. He was ecstatic and he ran up to the baby geese and they were still kind of yellow, which meant they were equivalent of 18 months. She had turned all that way to hiss at me, because I had violated the universal rule of parenting which is to watch my children to the safety of another, just like on the playground, we would hope that every child was watched and not hit our child, right?

So this was an awareness on the part of the child that we are in relationship with all living beings. Geese, the family dog, and all other living beings are aware of this relationship. If you put a dog in an MRI, as was done at Emery, the dog has the same neural correlates of love as we do.

Family as a spiritual event, family as a spiritual absolute. Is Grandma going to be there? Will Daddy be back for this? The child feels whole when we are whole. Comfort in engaging life and death. The child, as we know, comfortably engages life and death. They want to know.

The Spiritual Child: Educating the Head and the Heart

In fact, studies have shown there are implicit spiritual cognition in children. Until socialized otherwise, a child sees into life and looks at us as having continuity of spirit after death. A child assumes continuity of spirit after death until socialized out of that. I will share with you this story. Again, it is an Isaiah story because as he is my oldest child, I was not yet exhausted when I raised him, so I have hundreds of stories about Isaiah. Pop Pop we called him. In the Jewish tradition, when someone dies, you take a shovel of earth and you put it on the casket and it is a way of knowing through your very being that the person has passed.

Mindfulness for Children

The child is naturally capable and delighted in a very deep, moving, numinous way to know of life and death and continuity of spirit. Now, the decision to bring Isaiah that day was not the popular one. When we showed up, the eight other cousins had not come and I assume because they are a very loving family, it was for fear that it was traumatic to them. While every parent is an expert on their own child, there is a great capacity in childhood to embrace the truth of life and death and for that to be a spiritual awakening, a portal to a deeper spiritual knowing.

Children love generosity, right action, going to the homeless shelter, they leap around, they are so excited to bring clothes, to bring food. Dreams and mystical experiences. Of course we know children have profound dreams and mystical experiences.


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I had the most beautiful spiritual experience. When our children come to us with mystical experiences, I do not need to be a great expert. That is such a blessing that is such a bright, loving gift. I bet that might really open up in your path in life. What can we do to support natural spirituality? First is having a sacred language. Second is a practice of direct connection shared with our children. Do you want to sit by my side while I meditate or do some reading?

I am really sorry and I am going to apologize to you and I also want to apologize to God because today was a gift and I feel that somehow I squandered it. Will you join me in renewing us? The child remembers it forever, and when we share the first person of our spiritual life, they are riveted.

They are absolutely riveted. My mother was very explicitly spiritual. She prayed out loud and sang prayers out loud. My father was a very contemplative, quiet person, who was less explicit about his spiritual life, but the week that his mother died, he shared with me a dream. I took it to mean, as we walked side by side, Grandma in this ordinary daily suit, that she was my mother and would continue to walk by my side.