Atchley: Spirituality and Aging


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  • Discovering what has been there all along.
  • Short List of Questions on the next slide.
  • Atchley: Spirituality and Aging

    1. 1. Spirituality and the Meaning of Life After 50 Robert C. Atchley, Ph.D.
    2. 2. We are spiritual beings.
    3. 3. Spirit is the “vital principle or animating force within living beings.” It is also an awareness that this vitality exists. American Heritage Dictionary, 2003, p. 1313.
    4. 4. Spirituality is a capacity to be aware of the aliveness that accompanies our sensory and mental experiences.
    5. 5. As a concern, spirituality has grown substantially since the 1950s. <ul><li>In 2010, Books in Print listed more than 120,000 titles having to do with spirituality. </li></ul>
    6. 6. Spiritual capacity and interest increase with age throughout adulthood. <ul><li>80% of adults see themselves as spiritual. </li></ul><ul><li>69% seek spiritual growth. </li></ul><ul><li>85% see spirituality as a source of life meaning. </li></ul><ul><li>74% say spirituality has grown in importance over time. </li></ul><ul><li>Source: </li></ul>
    7. 7. What areas of consciousness process spiritual experience? <ul><li>Present-moment awareness </li></ul><ul><li>Transcending the personal self – </li></ul><ul><li>The “I Am” without words </li></ul><ul><li>Openness to direct experience of the sacred. </li></ul>
    8. 8. What qualities do people report as characterizing spiritual experience?
    9. 9. Wonder
    10. 10. Stillness
    11. 11. Majesty
    12. 12. Playfulness
    13. 13. Peace
    14. 14. Mystery
    15. 15. Connectedness
    16. 16. What other qualities would you put on your list?
    17. 17. Spiritual experiences are usually positive. People who have them are usually motivated to want more.
    18. 18. Motivation to grow in spiritual capacity and increase awareness of spiritual experience leads many people to engage in a conscious spiritual journey.
    19. 19. Spiritual Journeys are stories that summarize how we became the spiritual beings we are today.
    20. 20. Each spiritual journey is unique. Accounts of spiritual journeys are a rich source of data on spiritual development and the interplay between spirituality and other parts of life.
    21. 21. Spiritual intentions are not fixed, but instead are adaptable and responsive to what we learn from experience.
    22. 22. The curriculum for the spiritual journey is shaped by enduring questions.
    23. 23. Enduring Questions <ul><li>What is my spiritual nature? </li></ul><ul><li>What makes an experience spiritual? </li></ul><ul><li>How does spirituality manifest in my world? </li></ul><ul><li>What do I think about my spiritual journey? </li></ul><ul><li>Do I want spirituality to be a central factor in my life decisions? </li></ul>
    24. 24. What other questions would you add to your list?
    25. 25. Growing Spiritually is sometimes difficult. It usually involves commitment, discipline, and coping with discomfort.
    26. 26. Spiritual journeys occur in a social context.
    27. 27. Mentors, teachers, peers, and texts provide a sense of spiritual possibility.
    28. 28. Spiritual relationships and community can have benefits. <ul><li>Protection against ego </li></ul><ul><li>Protection against charisma </li></ul><ul><li>Mutual aid </li></ul><ul><li>Social support </li></ul><ul><li>Opportunities to serve and be served </li></ul>
    29. 29. Most of those who are highly developed spiritually are elders.
    30. 30. Sages and spiritual elders bring much to the community. <ul><li>Mentoring </li></ul><ul><li>Listening </li></ul><ul><li>Generativity </li></ul><ul><li>Beingness </li></ul><ul><li>Wisdom </li></ul>
    31. 31. How Libraries Can Help <ul><li>Train staff about spirituality </li></ul><ul><li>Selected lists of readings </li></ul><ul><li>Create opportunities to explore and share spiritual journeys </li></ul><ul><li>Use non-religious language concerning spirituality in secular contexts </li></ul>
    32. 32. Pointing fingers are important.
    33. 33. BON VOYAGE !
    34. 34. For more, see Robert C. Atchley, Spirituality and Aging , Johns Hopkins University Press (2009)