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Spirituality: Secular and Religious
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When: Friday, April 24, 2020
Where: Online Event
United States

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Target Audience

Event Description


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This event will now be held online. 





Target Audience

This event is for those interested in student spiritual development at religious or secular schools.


Event Description

Spirituality, defined as an identification or relationship with something greater than the individual self, is an intrinsic part of being human and can be religious or secular. How do we attend to this aspect of our students’ development, now that our schools are so wonderfully diverse across the spectrum of spiritualities? At this event, speakers will offer: 1) Useful ways of thinking about spirituality that encompass both secular and religious modes, and 2) Effective practices for how to welcome and nurture the diverse spiritualities of all the members of our schools. This event is a unique opportunity for educators to think-through, experience, and reflect upon spiritual development in school life. We seek attendees who want to learn more and those who want to add their voices to the conversation.



Soul Explorations: Fostering Spiritual Development, Both Secular and Religious - Justin Maaia
This session introduces a collection of experiential, reflective, relational journal practices that are proven to foster students’ spiritual development, both secular and religious. These practices have been effective within academic courses as well as in student life settings such as advisories, leadership trainings, and the lunch room. A multi-school ethnographic doctoral research project found these practices—and the self-reflection and trusting relationships that ensued—to be indispensable conditions for spiritual development. We will engage in one of these practices together, introduce some others, and discuss some of the research findings and best practices for implementation. There will also be an invitation to share practices that participants may already be using that can be adapted to this method.

Justin C. Maaia is the Upper School Religious Studies Teacher at the National Cathedral School in Washington, DC. For the past twenty years, he has listened to and learned from the world’s religions both academically and experientially. Along the way, he has searched these traditions for practices that can be adapted for use by those within and without these traditions. These tools have proven to be consistently transformative for students in their spiritual development and worldview formation, whether secular or religious. When paired with a world religions curriculum, these experiences also lead to a deeper understanding and mastery of course content. He is currently writing a version of this curriculum for use by teachers and by anyone else seeking to learn more about the world’s religions and/or to explore their own spiritual lives. Last May, Williams College bestowed on Justin the Olmsted Prize for Excellence in Secondary School Teaching, for which he was nominated by a former student.







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In this opening session all will be welcomed into our safe, sacred, spiritual space grounded in the foundation of Mother Earth, as we arrive individually and collectively. Through mindfulness meditation we will breathe into the present moment. Through guided visualization meditation participants will be led to their individual safe and sacred spaces. Movement will support all participants in releasing stress and blockages, creating open space to receive both Spirit from within and all information presented throughout the day. The session will close with a silent love and kindness exercise, once again welcoming everyone into our safe, sacred, spiritual space.

HERE NOW - Karin Wilkinson
In this end of day session, we will check in with ourselves to feel our connection to Spirit within us, grounded in the foundation of Mother Earth. We will allow ourselves to express and celebrate ourselves through Spiritual Movement and Sacred Dance. Through meditation, conscious listening and mindful speaking we will share where we are in the moment and what we learned about ourselves through our exploration of spirituality having experienced the different sessions throughout the day.

Karin Wilkinson, a transformational mindfulness coach, supports and empowers all BEings, from children to adults, through affirmations, meditation, movement, poetry, improvisation, dance, and open dialogue. Karin is certified by the International Mindfulness Teachers Association. She is a graduate of the Training in Mindfulness Facilitation program at UCLA, Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, University of California Los Angeles. Karin began her study of spirituality, life coaching, and meditation under the tutelage of Dr. Iyanla Vanzant at Inner Visions Institute for Spiritual Development in Silver Spring, MD. She also has a Master of Science from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University and a Bachelor of Arts in Theater Arts from Drew University. Karin specializes as a mindfulness and guided visualization meditation teacher, mindfulness curriculum developer, releasing movement instructor, therapeutic belly dance instructor, and an empowerment workshop and retreat facilitator. Karin is on the meditation faculty at Inner Visions Institute for Spiritual Development. She teaches Sacred Movement at Iyanla Vanzant’s Women’s Retreats for Inner Visions Worldwide, and is a guest workshop instructor at Sahara Dance and a weekly mindfulness facilitator at The Center for Mindful Living in Washington, DC.




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Transcendence Development Theory: A psychological approach to peace & spirituality – Steven James

Peace and moral education are often grounded in religious or philosophical paradigms that, while meaningful and possibly effective, may lack the empirical rigor to support their foundational axioms. Transcendence Development Theory offers an empirical and secular approach to the cultivation of peace-driven virtues including empathy, compassion, altruism, humility, gratitude, and interconnectedness. It is the first developmental theory of self-transcendence as defined by Maslow's motivational needs, but also synthesizes work from Self-Determination Theory, Dewek's Growth Mindset, and Post-Traumatic Growth. The resultant process hearteningly and reassuringly suggests that many values and practices across the religious spectrum promote the development of peace-driven virtues and self-transcedence, but also cautions against other common tendencies in religious doctrines that may lead to conflict-centered traits and spiritual disconnection.

Originally from Pennsylvania, Steven James attended the University of Pittsburgh where he pursued a degree in astrophysics and was a member of the Air Force ROTC. Immediately after graduating he received an officer's commission and spent seven years in the service as an astrophysicist. During this time he also attained an M.S. in eletro-optical engineering, and put it to use conducting research with the telescope facilities atop Haleakala, Maui. After the tragic loss of his niece, best friend, and brother Steven's professional interests shifted away from exploring the external universe and toward internal ones. As such, he left the Air Force and returned to school to study educational psychology, with a focus on holistic education of pro-social traits such as transcendence, empathy, compassion, humility, and altruism. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Hawaii in 2017. While still conducting his Ph.D. research, Steven serendipitously began working at Pacific Buddhist Academy (PBA), whose philosophy, mission, and goals matched perfectly with his expertise in holistic education toward transcendence. He is currently working to align the peace education program at PBA with his research into Transcendence Development Theory, and establish a an expert peace education research arm to further the school's mission.







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What is Spirituality? - Bob Mattingly

Spirituality is commonly thought to be a religious practice. Obviously, this is true, but religious spirituality is not the only kind of spirituality. This talk will explore how spirituality may or may not include the belief in the divine. Further, there will be an exploration of the benefits of both religious and secular spiritual practices.


Bob Mattingly is the Executive Director for the Center for Spiritual and Ethical Education, CSEE. Previous to CSEE, he was the Director of Accreditation and Member Services for the Association of Independent Maryland and DC Schools, Head of the Chesapeake Montessori School, and Admissions Director and Teacher at Gonzaga College High School. He has earned a Masters in Theology from Boston College, Masters in Ethics from Loyola University of Chicago, and Masters in Educational Administration from Harvard University, and CPE certificate from the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Bob has written and spoken on a variety of educational topics including: governance, leadership, and diversity. He and his husband Chuck Wellard live in Washington, DC.



All times below are Eastern.


9 – 9:15            Registration

9:15 – 9:45       Opening Circle: Introductions, What brought you here?

9:45 – 10:30     Karin: “Spirituality Moment to Moment, Meditation to Movement”

10:30 – 11:15   Bob: “Defining Spirituality, both Secular and Religious”

11:15 – 11:30   Break

11:30 – 1:00     Justin: “Soul Explorations: Relational teaching practices for fostering spiritual development, 
                         both secular and religious”

1:00 – 1:30       Lunch Break

1:30 – 3:00       Steven: “Transcendence Development Theory: A psychological approach to peace & spirituality” 

3:00 – 3:15       Break

3:15 – 3:45       Karin: “Here Now”

3:45                  Close





Saint David's is located at 12 East 89th Street, just behind the Guggenheim Museum. Participants can take the 4, 5 or 6 trains to the 86th & Lexington station and walk 5 blocks. 


Please see CSEE's Event Policy to learn more about cancellations and refunds.


CSEE | 910 M Street NW #722, Washington, DC 20001 | (800) 298-4599



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