As a faith community, spiritual practice is at the core of what we offer each other. We know that spiritual practices of all kinds help us be our best selves, ground us in difficult times, even re-wire our brains to be more compassionate and less reactive. We practice spiritual discipline communally, as in worship, and individually. Both communal worship and learning individual spiritual practices are important!
During adolescence we are helping our youth “pack their backpacks” for their young adult lives. Helping them explore a range of spiritual practices, so they have the support of these practices now and so that they can turn to these practices in the years ahead is critical faith formation work. Read UUA staff Eric Bliss’s personal reflection for more.
Three Keys to Spiritual Development (from this UUCSJ program)
- Attention...pay attention to the present moment
- Intention...deliberate engagement of our will
- Repetition...makes centering activity into a life fulfilling practice
How are these embodied in your youth ministry?
- Include youth in your congregation’s worship and in youth centered worship
- Support families in engaging in spiritual practice at home both with youth and younger children
- Consider a full range of spiritual practices from the Eight Spheres of Spiritual Growth
- Spiritual practices include interpersonal practices to truly live covenant including active listening and reconciliation. These interpersonal practices are frequently very important to adolescents and core to our theology of covenant
- Consider spiritual practices that are explicitly for healing including healing prayer and releasing rituals
- Include prayer--to whom is not important--many UU youth do not get exposed to prayer
- Ideas to include: gratitude journal, guided meditations, studying a text, and traveling altars.
Some of the best new resources are coming from psychological and neurological researchers. This is information that can help change the lives of our youth.
- Our brains can be “re-wired” to be happier, more compassionate, more trusting
- Practices in positive neuroplasticity
- Ted talk by Dan Gilbert: Stumbling into Happiness
- Ted talk by Brene Brown: The Power of Vulnerability
- Research, meditations and exercises in self compassion
Youth talk about spiritual practice
Justice and Resilience Resources
Justice centered spiritual practices are a key part of Unitarian Universalism. And spirituality is central to sustaining ourselves
- Black Lives of UU is creating healing spaces for Black UU’s
- Connect your youth and young adults of color to Rev. Elizabeth Nguyen’s monthly email including spiritual practice, readings, and her own direct message supporting resilence to youth and young adults of color.
- Spiritual practice for white discomfort and white anxiety
- Reconciliation as spiritual practice (from the perspective of anti-racism work)
- Music to sustain a movement
- UU College of Social Justice curriculum in Spiritual Practice and Social Justice
- UUA Compilation on Spirituality and Worship for Youth
- 2017 GA Workshop on Engaging Spiritual Practice with Youth
- Spirit in Practice Tapestry of Faith Curriculum
- Sacred Practices tool kit from the Sanctuaries
- Becoming (book of readings, reflections and hymns for UU young adults)
- Voices from the Margins (meditations by people of color)
- InSpirit series (a collection of UU books of readings, meditations, poetry, etc.)
- 2016 PWR Youth Ministry Revival: Spiritual Practices With Youth (video)