I am kind of obsessed with Dr. Lisa Miller right now.
I read her 2015 book, The Spiritual Child, a few months back. And then I raced through her more recent book, The Awakened Brain, in the past few weeks. I am telling anyone who will listen about her work.
Here’s why I think it’s so important:
First, Dr. Miller demonstrates that humans are spiritual beings. We are made for spirituality. We need transcendent experiences of a loving and guiding power outside ourselves.
Second, Dr. Miller’s research, alongside other psychologists and neuroscientists, also indicates that the area in the brain that registers spiritual activity is the same area that registers depression. Depression and spirituality are linked in our brains.
Which leads to important insight number three: we need to reanimate our spiritual lives in order to address our current mental health crisis. Our current therapeutic models are insufficient. There is so much more to healing than therapy and medication. (Which is not to say there is no place for therapy and medication. Just that it is not enough.)
Dr. Miller’s research suggests that the power of spirituality is even more effective in protecting and caring for teenagers than other age groups. I’m especially motivated as a parent of teens and tweens to make sure our kids know that there are pathways and communities available to them to connect to a loving power beyond themselves.
If you are a parent or an educator or a therapist working with teens, you don’t need to force them on a religious path. You don’t need to have all the answers worked out yourself. But you do have an opportunity to give teens a place to ask the big questions and suggest that there are practices, communities, and pathways that can lead them toward answers. We can introduce them to the spiritual life, and guide them away from depression, anxiety, and high-risk activities and into lives of purpose, peace, and love.
More with Amy Julia:
- Develop Your Spirituality by Starting Small
- God’s Love Is the Answer to Depression
- Responsive Parenting
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