Lisa Miller, Ph.D. is Professor of Psychology and Education, Director of the Clinical Psychology Program at Columbia University, Teachers College and is Founder of the Spirituality Mind Body Institute, the first Ivy League graduate program in spirituality and psychology. Dr. Miller is a foremost scientist on spirituality across the lifespan and her innovative research has focused on quantifiable effects of spirituality in health, resilience and thriving, and an overall sacred and joyful life. Her clinical and consultation work focuses on spiritual awareness and spiritual growth, for individuals, families, groups and organizations.
In The Spiritual Child, Miller presents the next big idea in psychology: the science and the power of spirituality. Lisa will talk at Watkins Books on July 31 at 6pm. Find out more information on our events page.
Which books and author inspired you to get started writing?
A series of authors have been my guides. The words of each author arrived at the right time, in the right way in my journey.
Ram Das, The Only Dance There Is, came to me as an adolescent during the innate “surge for quest” that I describe in The Spiritual Child, essentially a developmental era of spiritual awakening. For the first time in my life I was reading something that made deep sense. Das shares quite naturally our direct knowing through time and space, love as a force in the Universe, walking away from outward attachments (Golden Calf stuff).
Then a few years later in college I found Ken Wilbur, with that same great feeling from discovering someone who makes sense, a felt sense of a companionship in the world. I felt that Wilbur saw clearly the love and consciousness coursing through every inch of the Universe.
Once I finished graduate school, I found thinkers and healers whose perspective I dearly love and cherish, and several of whom have become treasured colleagues. Dr Larry Dossey on non-locality, intention and healing, Dr Deepak Chopra for his deeply held understanding of consciousness through multiple levels of a human being (from cell to experience). The choice to engage with love and cultivate our inner life around love, shared by Marianne Williamson. There are other wonderful thinkers and healers who I greatly admire, these people have been generous, encouraging mentors and guides to me.
What are your goals and intentions as a writer?
If you put two violins in opposite corners of a room, when you play a C note on one instrument, the same string vibrates across the room. This is the goal of my book. We all have an innate instrument through which to experience spirituality. I want to help reawaken the reader, to engage both head and heart in an experience that reignites the reader’s natural spirituality.
We all have access to the infinite spiritual realm, wisdom, within us- it is often not taught per se, but lived and shared through being, showing and doing, and the spiritual presence though us.
What empowers you in your daily work and life?
I want to serve G-d. Each day in the morning that I be one of the many instruments around to serve G-d. That I stay on the spiritual path.
Alignment with the spiritual path is the goal, the end-game is not always apparent. As children many of us joined in a treasure hunt, perhaps at a birthday party, formed by a series of sequential clues leading to a surprise. The host-designer gives each child a map up front, but we do not know the specifics of the journey, or the markers. One discovery leads to the next.
On the spiritual path, like the treasure hunt, we may have a glimpse or map up front, an overarching sense of direction or flash of where we are going. But the specific clues unfold one upon the next, progressive and purposeful.
Do you have a daily spiritual practice?
Yes, I have several spiritual practices. I often do my practices in a way that allows my children see, hear and if they wish, participate. Some are drawn from my family religious tradition, others are from fellow traditions, some I have discovered and some are universal practices. The important thing is that my children see a deliberate effort by their mother each day to offer gratitude and drawn in alignment with the presence and intention of the loving Universe.
I pray aloud. I usually meditate. In the morning I go outdoors, in all seasons, where I have a spiritual-mind-body practice that includes acknowledging and offering thanks for the creation of the elements, a new day, and fellow living beings, as well as specifically my family and community. I converse with nature, plants and animals. I try to listen.
From the view of my children, the day is punctuated with specific prayers- again which I often do aloud so that my children can see the presence of spiritual abundance, spiritual guidance in the gift of our daily lives.
What is your idea of happiness?
I have never considered happiness to be important. People often call me happy, but I am not interested in happiness. I am interested in relationship with Spirit. I do think that joy is a profound emotion that finds expression of Spirit in our human relationships.
What is your next project?
My greatest plaguing concern is our human-made Holocaust against fellow living beings. All other living beings are in harmony with the beat of life. Everyone else on earth, from birds to spiders and ants, to otters, to water and land are working together, in tandem, except humans. Animals abide by the direction of the transcendent principles, tapping into the Source of life.
We humans can do a great deal better by simply reorienting ourselves into alignment with the always present direction of the Source of life. Detecting of the Source may be measured by science by its wavelength the alpha, the Shuman’s constant, which is the constant measured by EEG when we pray or meditated. So we are off to a good start in this direction, spiritual perception is increasing among humans.
Now as a next step, we can make a change from a culture of humans destructive, solipsistic recklessness, to awareness. No more will our culture be blind and deaf to the messages of the animals and plants, and killing everything in our path.
So, my next project is to participate in this seachange. The effort will include support for spiritual awareness and cultivate our ability to hear the teachings of animals, plants and elements. Sacred behaviour for a sacred Earth.
Is there anything you want to say to your readers?
The child is born a knower- spiritually aware, perceiving and hungry to learn from us adults about the nature of spiritual reality. We do not need to have answers to honour the quest of the child. We truly can just show up and allow spirit to sustain us as parent-child journeyers. When we are open, we can see that the child in pure being is a spiritual guide and teacher. Very often, the child will spiritually reboot the family!