Sunday, February 20, 2011

Spirituality and Spiritual Disciplines in Counseling

In class this week, the question was broached, "can you have faith and not be spiritual?" After a lengthy discussion on what is spiritual, a common definition was given that spirituality is that which we can do or interact in the immaterial realm. The example of Buddhism was given in regards to the question. Can a Buddhist be more spiritual than a Christian? With the working definition of spirituality, one could surmise that yes, a Buddhist could be more spiritual than a Christian.

For the Christian, one might ask, "How can this be?" Think about it. The dedication of time and effort that a Buddhist puts into becoming aware of the spiritual realm puts the average Christian to shame. In essence, a dedicated Buuddhist may practice more spiritual disciplines than the Spirit-filled Christian. In class, we were given a meditation exercise that lasted 15 minutes to illustrate this point. For some, the time flew by whereas for others the time dragged on and still others fell asleep.

So, what does all of this have to do with counseling? Mindful meditation is a technique that is used in the counseling world to bring about deeper awareness, quiet the mind, relax, and even for healing. As Christian counselors, one must recognize that not ony are we engaging with a person's mind and soul but also their spirit.

I've been rereading Henri Nouwen's book, Reaching Out, which describes three spiritual movements (or disciplines) of the spiritual life. In it, I again realized the importance of myself, as a Counseling student to be deepening my spiritual walk with Christ. McMinn states in his book Psychology, Theology and Spirituality in Christian Counseling, "A Christian counselor is also a healing agent -- one whose spiritual life spills over in interactions with everyone, including clients." I agree with McMinn and so believe it vital to the growth and health of both myself and those around me to become a spiritually mature Christian.

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