“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.
Explore Larger Realities
We 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.
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.
Strengthen Life Skills that Support Success and Well-Being
Developing 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
Teenagers 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.