Alumna Dr. Lisa Miller ’84, author of the bestseller The Spiritual Child, spoke with students as this year’s Class of 1952 Endowed Speaker for Religious Understanding. Dr. Miller is a professor of psychology and education, and director of the Clinical Psychology Program at Columbia University Teachers College. Dr. Miller is also founder of the Spirituality Mind Body Institute—the first Ivy League graduate program in spirituality and psychology.
Dr. Miller spoke about when she started in the field of psychology and the absence of research on the effects of spirituality and the mind at that time. Today, psychological and neurological research shows direct correlation between spirituality and mental health, particularly evidence that children and adolescents with any form of spiritual practice are happier and thriving.
“Everyone is born with some innate spirituality. The most important thing you can do as a teenage is to expand this and establish a spiritual core,” said Dr. Miller. “It will help protect you from the ‘holes’ in life. If you set it up now, you will live that way for the rest of your life.”
Dr. Miller said spirituality does not necessarily mean religion, and for those who don’t follow an organized religion, spirituality might be found in nature or in an activity such as yoga or music.
Dr. Miller graduated from Yale and earned her doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania. Her innovative research into the quantifiable effects of spirituality on health, resilience and thriving has been published in top research journals including the Journal of the American Medical Association. As a clinical psychologist, her work focuses on spiritual awareness and growth for individuals, families, groups and organizations. She has spoken about her work on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the Today Show.
The Endowed Speaker for Religious Understanding is a gift from the Milton Academy Class of 1952, bringing renowned speakers to campus and providing a forum for discussing the diverse faiths practiced in our country and around the world.