Four Keys to Supporting Teenagers’ Spiritual Growth

At first glance, it might seem like we’re talking about two divergent realities: adolescence is all about exploration of the outer world, while spirituality is about inner awakening. But if we look more closely, we find that they can be two parts of an integrated whole. Living Wisdom High Schools are founded on four essential themes: Adventure, Service, Self-Discovery and Personal Excellence, with each theme providing a crucial dimension for a teenager’s growth.

❶ Adventure
Explore Larger Realities

One of the biggest impulses for teenagers is proving to themselves and others that they are no longer children. In essence this compulsion is healthy and appropriate, though usually poorly managed by modern society. When we as adults fail to provide constructive ways of supporting this drive toward expansion, it is all too common for teens to grasp at the most superficial badges of adulthood: drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, premature sex, etc. Unfortunately, these activities often lead to problems that can take years to heal. One of the ways our high schools meet the need to expand is through our Adventure Trips that have taken us to such places as India, South Africa, Mexico, and this coming year to the Findhorn Community in Scotland.

❷ Service
Become Part of the Solution

Along with the teenager’s growing awareness of larger realities comes the realization that our planet is filled with problems such as wars, lack of food and water, and homelessness. Left unaddressed, this realization can easily lead to cynicism and a rejection of the adult society that allows these conditions to exist. A key element of a high school curriculum is to provide opportunities for students to get involved in solving these problems. On a local level our students have helped at places like animal shelters, homes for the elderly, and preschools that serve special needs children. Farther afield, our students have helped at orphanages in Mexico, protected endangered Sea Turtles, and this year will be attending an international conference on Climate Change and Consciousness.

❸ Self-Discovery
Strengthen Life Skills that Support Success and Well-Being

Often in high school there is a lot of stress around learning material that will be of little use later in life. There are however, many Life Skills that can be developed at this age that will have a large impact on future success and well-being. At a Living Wisdom High School students are encouraged to focus on such skills as Developing Concentration, Choosing Happiness, Cultivating Courage, and Living Truth. In developing these skills, teens realize that their possibilities for growth and self-improvement are endless.

❹ Personal Excellence
Apply Effort and Perseverance to a Chosen Discipline

Finally, we come to making sure that each teenager puts in the effort to attain a level of excellence in some part of life. Everyone has different talents, and it should be the role of the high school to help students identify these areas of interest and then provide the support to develop these talents. In this way, each teen can establish a meaningful basis for self-confidence and respect, tools that are essential in contending with the strong currents of peer pressure that they experience. The possibilities are as varied as the students and have included everything from singing, to cooking, to mathematics, to caring for animals.

High School Information

Four Keys to Supporting Teens’ Spiritual Growth

“If young people, before getting entangled in worldly life, experience the bliss of meditation, they are little likely to fall victims in later years to the ubiquitous sense delusions.” 

-Paramhansa Yogananda, God Talks with Arjuna

At first glance, adolescence is all about exploration of the outer world, while spirituality is about inner awakening. If we look more closely they are two parts of an integrated whole. 

In our 30 years of experience teaching at the Living Wisdom High School we’ve found four essential themes that support a teen’s spiritual growth: Adventure, Service, Self-Discovery and Personal Excellence. We have integrated these four keys into our school. You can also use them to support teens in your life and even apply them to yourself.

❶ Adventure

Explore Larger Realities

Holistic education, schools nevada county, better schools, consciousness learning, nature education, living wisdom school, education for life, yoga meditation school, teen yoga camp, teen campsWe can support adolescents’ drive for expansion though travel and exposure to different countries and cultures. This gives teens a chance to explore other people’s realities. 

You can begin by taking them to other parts of their community, city, state or country. When traveling to another country, have them study the language and culture. Involve them in planning the trip and contributing financially. These adventures broaden their life experience and put their home environment in perspective. Travel usually results in feelings of gratitude and connection.

❷ Service

Become Part of the Solution

Teens have a growing awareness of what is happening around the world. Our role as adults is to provide opportunities for them to get involved in working to alleviate homelessness, hunger, loneliness, and disharmony. With a little bit of help, teenagers can volunteer locally at pet shelters, retirement homes, and programs for special needs children. Further afield, they can help with turtle rescue projects, orphanages, and projects alleviating climate change. 

Start small, then expand. It’s amazing to see how working on these projects can transform cynicism into hope.

❸ Self-Discovery

Strengthen Life Skills that Support Success and Well-Being

yoga and meditation high school, boarding school california, alternative high school, better schools, holistic education, living wisdom school, education for lifeDeveloping the ability to cultivate courage, choose happiness, and live truth is a tremendous asset at this (and any) age. Through these skills, teens learn how to drop habits that produce pain and replace them with actions that foster a sense of well-being. 

A negative behavior such as unkindness can be overcome by choosing to help others in a small way each day. Over time this new behavior becomes a natural way of being. In working with these skills, teens realize that their possibilities for growth and self-improvement are endless.

❹ Personal Excellence

Apply Effort and Perseverance to a Chosen Discipline

Holistic education, schools nevada county, better schools, consciousness learning, nature education, living wisdom school, education for life, yoga meditation school, teen yoga camp, teen campsTeenagers feel good when they are able to do something well. Successes form the basis for self-confidence and self-respect. 

As adults we can look for ways to motivate them to apply effort and persevere toward attaining excellence in some part of their life. Begin by identifying your teen’s existing interests (singing, cooking, math, animal care, etc.), then encourage them to attain a level of excellence in that field. Direct their passions and enthusiasm in constructive ways.

 

The Living Wisdom High School at Ananda Village is currently accepting mid-year and foreign applications. Scholarships are available on a basis of need and affinity with our program.