Spiritual Development and Counse
Spiritual Development and Counseling for College Students
Spirituality is a new buzz-word. It is being used today quite frequently with
different meanings. Traditionally, being spiritual signified having an
attachment to religious values, or matters related to spirit, rather than
material or worldly interests. Recently, it has also taken as to mean reaching
higher levels of consciousness using yoga, prayer, meditation and similar other
practices. Therefore, it has been rightly said that it is a state of mind in
which we are connected to God, Nature, each other, and the deepest part of
A human being is a combination of three entities: body, mind and spirit. In
order to function fully, we need to be in harmony with each other and maintain a
balance among these three. Is it not a fact that we become spiritual when we
enjoy listening to a beautiful piece of music, looking at an amazing work of
art, or reading an inspirational poem? We become spiritual because when we are
immersed in, it touches our soul and connects us to the artist and the creation
itself (God). We experience a spiritual connection with others when we work
together to reach a common goal, such as raising a fund to help those in need,
being in a musical band or orchestra, or anything that involves mutual love and
cooperation. Thus, when we are in tune with God, Nature, or His any other
creation, we become spiritual. And, there are so many wonderful ways that we can
make, and take time to "connect" with spirit or God. For example:
By taking time for ourselves: By listening to
relaxing music; reading some inspirational writings, etc.
By helping those in need of our assistance: When
we help others, we automatically get a different kind of feeling of
By practicing gratitude: There are so many things
for which we can be grateful to God, our family members, and friends.
By practicing mindfulness: When we sit for prayer
or meditation, we feel automatically connected to some higher power.
By expressing ourselves: Every person has some
creative talents which attract others. It could be playing a musical
instrument, singing or dancing and getting lost in it.
Being aware of and cultivating spirituality greatly
contributes to our overall joy and happiness (enlightenment). It is never too
late to develop it further and enjoy the benefits it brings.
The word "spirituality" has a root that is spirit. This suggests some reference
to the unseen. So by implication, it should be confined to that eternal part of
humanity -- the soul or atman that does not die. This is the reason why Clark describes it as the inner experience of the
individual when he/she senses a Beyond. This Beyond could be soul, gods,
supernatural power, or ancestors. Therefore, some persons define spirituality in
terms of developing relationships with these eternals. In a nutshell,
spirituality deals with issues of inner beliefs and feelings. This is the beauty
of spiritual development; tapping into the part of mind and soul that is so deep
and so driven that it can change our thinking, health and life. So in one word,
spiritual development depends on faith.
The stages of spiritual development begin with a start-up seed. We need to see
that it gets all it needs to grow and be a part of our everyday life. It is said
that a healthy mind is in a healthy body, and a healthy soul is in a healthy
mind. Therefore, spiritual development is for development of all the entities:
body, mind and spirit. Once we start this inward journey, we realize that our
Soul is a God given gift -- our unseen navigation system, and there are many
ways in which we can attune to this system. Edgar Cayce readings suggest the
following seven ways:
Prayer: It is talking to God.
Meditation: It is listening to
Study of dreams: Dreams reveal
all the spiritual and moral possibilities hidden within the unconscious mind.
Service to others: Service to
others is the greatest service to God.
Purpose of life: The quest for
understanding the deeper meaning of life is the turning point in the life of
Establishment of ideals: Ideal
is the principle behind what we think, say and do -- the patterns that we use to
measure and shape our life.
Law of guidance: There are
three laws that define how to get the guidance we need in order to deal with any
situation in our lives: (a) Seek first the spirit within, and you will find, (b)
Ask the spirit with faith, and you will receive, and (c) Knock, with faith in
spirit, and the door will be opened.
What is spiritual counseling?
We have seen that spiritual development depends primarily on Faith: Faith in
Self, Faith in potential, Faith in inward journey, and Faith in Spirit and/or
God. It is something that can help us in times of trouble, stress, fear, and
uncertainty. This is the reason why spiritual counseling has become important
today for everyone. Spiritual counseling thus has an extended view of life: it
takes into account belief systems, universal and personal energy systems,
intuitive psychic realities, karmic interplay, subconscious and superconscious
states of awareness, and higher-self cosmic connections.
What is counseling for college students?
The term "counseling" is used generally for giving an expert advice to others.
But in educational institutions, it is primarily a way of addressing and
resolving problems related to students. It is an interactive process
characterized by a unique relationship between counselor and client that leads
to change in the client. The counselor acts as a facilitator in helping clients
to understand feelings, behaviours, relationships with others, situations,
choices and decisions.
Personal and psychological problems of college/university students
College and university students must adapt to environments plagued by rapid
change, ambiguity, uncertainty, and depleted support systems. They must also
cope with a myriad of personal and psychological problems that range from basic
adjustment, poor academic performance, and career concerns to clinical-level
mental illness. Therefore, a comprehensive view of counseling is needed in the
institutions of higher learning -- not only educational, career, and
developmental services. The aim of this kind of counseling is to help clients
express themselves and their world with intimate wisdom, spiritual awareness and
personal authenticity -- using integrity and wise use of their spiritual gifts,
skills, and knowledge.
Recently, there has been a big concern for looking into the cases of failures
and suicides in institutes like IITs and IIMs. It has surprised many how
students coming through toughest exams like J.E.E., MAT or CAT are also failing
in some subjects and committing suicides. Some are even not attending their
classes properly and are abusing Internet services just for fun and erotic
pleasure. Researches suggest that these students are doing badly in the
examinations not because they lack intellectual abilities but they lack the
following 'effective study skills':
They don't know how to listen to their teachers in the classroom
They don't know how to concentrate and have confidence
They don't know how to study and prepare notes
They don't know how to face interviews and take tests and examinations
Therefore, it has been rightly suggested that the counseling programme should
extend its activities to take care of such study skills so that they develop
good study habits.
How to listen?
Listening is different from hearing because body language of the speaker is also
involved in it. It is an important element in any successful conversation. Most
of the input that students receive comes from listening in class. Therefore,
students who listen well have a marked advantage over students who do not
listen. The main purpose of in-class listening is to understand and identify the
information one will need later. Usually, our mind is filled with the daily
activities of living. Therefore, to listen to someone, we need to pay extra
attention. This is known as 'Active Listening' which suggests that:
Always 'listen' with your eyes as well as with your ears
Look at the speaker directly
Put aside distracting thoughts and environmental factors
'Listen' to the speaker's body language
Recognize that listening has to be learnt and practiced
How to concentrate and have
Concentration is the ability to focus on a single object, idea, concept or
problem, while remaining aware of what is going on around.
It has powerful effects when it is
used correctly as it is indispensable to becoming successful in all aspects of
life. Studies show that the more one concentrates on something, the faster he/
she attains them. To improve concentration, following steps are suggested:
How to study and prepare
Relax: As you
prepare to concentrate, try to clear your mind of everything except the
material you are working on. For this, you need to sit on a comfortable
chair at a quit place and start breathing slowly for about 5 minutes.
on one object for two minutes: To start with, try to concentrate on one
object for a few seconds. Then, go on increasing for two minutes. If any
negative thought comes to your mind, just pull your mind back to the object.
on the same object for additional four minutes: Your goal is to free your
mind from all the thoughts and focus on the object of your choice for
additional four minutes that you want to accomplish and attract into your
exercise a few times daily: Learning how to concentrate and focus has many
benefits such as peace of mind, improving your memory, controlling your
thoughts, and becoming better at meditation and visualization. The more you
practice the art of concentration, the faster you will master it.
definite times for how long you want to work: Try to work in short
stretches, 20 minutes or so at a time with 10 minutes break at the end of
Confidence is a belief and an assurance in one's own abilities or in the
abilities of another person. In short, it is essentially a feeling secured
of having an expected success. Improved concentration leads to better
learning which ultimately leads to higher confidence.
Study is done to (a) develop a broad understanding of the study materials, and
(b) identify the specific information to be learnt. The SQ3R method has been a
proven way to sharpen study skills in which S stands for Survey, Q for Question,
and 3R for Read, Recite and Review.
Survey: Get the best overall picture of what you are going to study. It is
like looking at a road map before going on a trip.
Question: Ask questions for learning. Questions should include about
headings, sub-headings, graphs, tables, etc. and emphasize on what, why,
how, when, who, and where of the study contents.
Read: Reading is not running eyes over a textbook. Read actively to answer
questions you have asked yourself.
Recite: After reading for about 20 to 30 minutes, one should try to recall
what he/ she has learnt.
Review: A review is a survey of what one has read. It is something like
summarizing or counting main points on the fingers without seeing the book.
Even if a person is a good reader or a good listener, he/ she is sure to forget
the large majority of what he/ she has learnt. Therefore, preparing notes is a
must for all. Everyone should keep the following points in mind while preparing
Having an accurate, reliable set of notes for each class is critical to
Note-taking is a skill which must be learned and refined.
Everyone should learn to keep notes legibly and logically.
The best place to keep notes is in a loose-leaf notebook.
How to face interviews and
take tests and examinations?
Interviews are the most common means of selecting employees. Therefore, everyone
needs to master interview skills. One purpose of the interview is to allow the
candidate to communicate with the interviewers using verbal and non-verbal
communication skills. In addition, interviewers are also seeking to establish
intellectual skills of a candidate to solve various problems of their
organizations. Every candidate, therefore, needs to remember a number of points:
Always look at the interviewer and other members of the panel.
Use effective verbal and non-verbal communication skills.
Always be positive and optimistic when you are replying to questions.
Never be derogatory, cynical, facetious or sarcastic.
Be honest, don't invent answers.
Answer the question that is posed, not the one that you wish had been asked.
If you don't understand the question, ask for it to be repeated.
The major output measure in a school or a college is usually test or
examination. Most of the time,
students are graded primarily on the basis of correct answers. As one progresses
in college, themes, essays, and papers become more important to their grades,
but tests never disappear. Therefore, throughout the test, one should try to
remain relaxed and should follow the following guidelines:
Begin to go through the test carefully as soon as it comes to your desk.
Before you begin answering, preview the test -- what type of questions are
there, how many of each type are included. Get a feel for the test as a
At the end, make a point to check your answers before you submit your answer
Learn from the mistakes you committed in the past
A final word
Before you even begin to learn about the process of learning, you should develop
a schedule. If you don't have a schedule or a plan of study, then you will not
have any way of allocating your valuable time when the unexpected comes up. A
good, well thought out schedule can be a lifesaver. It is up to you to learn how
to develop a schedule that meets your needs, revise it if necessary, and most
important, follow it. Thus, the success of study skills depends on your good
study habits and on your Faith in self and Faith in Spirit or God.