Experiential Activities

“There are two types of people in this world: Those who have a spiritual life, and those who don’t…know they have a spiritual life.”

Using the word “spiritual” in the wider sense, (in other words, not to indicate a specific belief such as a soul that survives death, but rather in the sense of some sort of “interiority), I think it is safe to say that we are all on some sort of spiritual journey. I call it “consciousness development.” Some call it “growing up.” This journey is furthered along by all of our life experiences, both great and small. No matter how hard we try to hide, we cannot avoid this process. Similarly, no amount of striving can accelerate it. All we can do is to be present to it, to ourselves, and to those around us. And then, miraculously, we discover that this “being present” actually does help us along. It’s like happiness, which cannot be striven for, but which happens spontaneously in the wake of our doing something meaningful.

So, while we cannot strive to achieve deeper or higher levels of consciousness, there are meaningful activities that may help us along the path. This page contains activities that I and my friends, colleagues, and students have found valuable. Each activity is open-ended and meets the participant at exactly where they are on his/her spiritual path. A single activity might ignite one person’s awareness of his journey, whereas for another person it might provide a lens through which to integrate her past insights; for a third it might provide a much-needed respite from a frantic time in his life, while for a fourth it might put the person in contact with some longstanding anxiety that demands a lifestyle change.

You will find each activity in the format in which I give it to my students. I ask them to keep a journal of their activities, a journal that I read and in which I write to them and give them feedback and encouragement. You might try keeping a similar journal for yourself.

I try and give the source of the activity wherever possible. Some of them I have created, some were inspired by other activities, some were “borrowed” (i.e. “ripped off”) from other teachers, professors, chaplains, priests, rabbis, gurus, etc. Almost all of them–and this should not surprise us–have their roots in spiritual practices reaching back thousands of years. Versions of them are present across eras, continents, and cultures. They have survived because they speak to the human spirit, or, rather, because they allow the human spirit to hear itself speak.


Design Your Own Sabbath

40 Days in the Desert/40 Days Under the Bodhi Tree

Sacred Space

The Ten Committments

What is Religion?


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