When I speak to Boomer audiences, I ask a simple but telling question. “Do you think you are wiser now than you were ten years ago?” Inevitably, every hand shoots up.
Not only do we know more as we grow older, but many of us have the urge to share what we’ve learned with others. This may well explain why it is that so many Boomers have the growing desire to mentor, guide, teach, counsel, train and coach. If we can make money out of it, all the better.
Life coaching is one way to turn this urge into a vocation. There are dozens of training programs ranging from community colleges and certifying associations to online courses. Similarly, the number of applications from Boomers to professional programs in all of the psychological training modalities are going through the roof.
I have chosen to take a third route. It’s called spiritual counseling (or guidance, coaching or direction, depending on who is offering the training.) Many spiritual and religious institutions have trainings for volunteers, and a few, including the ecumenical and interfaith trainings with which I’ve been involved, lead potentially to independentlypaid practices. I’ve been involved with two: Stillpoint in California (Stillpointca.org) and the New Seminary (Newseminary.org) in Manhattan.
Who is the potential client? Almost any life transition provides the opportunity to fuel the desire and/or need to pay renewed attention to body, mind and spirit. For Boomers, however, one of the biggest impetuses is facing concerns surrounding growing older, bringing with it the enhanced desire to find meaning in one’s life.
But before you imagine yourself holding hands and singing “Kumbaya”, read on. Spiritual growth is not only about adding good things in, like hope and trust. It’s also about letting go of the old habits, beliefs and behaviors that have blocked your natural connection to spirit in the past. This can be painful, as you release aspects of yourself and your life that are no longer serving you. But by becoming willing to let go, you create thespace for the renewal of meaning to take root.
As a spiritual coach, you may want to help, save, fix and otherwise make things easier for your clients. You may be tempted to talk about what you’ve learned, putting your client on the fast-track to serenity. That is not your job. Rather, you will be spending most of your time in a state of deep, reflective listening, a patient witness to spirit at work.
For Boomers who are eager to share their insights and opinions, there are many easier ways to mentor, give back, counsel and coach. But spiritual counseling is a good choice for anyone who is willing to surrender control, practice humility and learn to trust.
Meanwhile, for both you and your client, there is a tremendous pay-off. We’re not talking here about fame, money or even recognition. But rather, as one spiritual coach in my network puts it, when you become willing to embrace all of life, your extended lifespan provides you with not only the occasion to grow old, but to grow whole.