Everyday mysticism: Spiritual development in later adulthood

Abstract

Most cultures contain a belief that aging, with its long span of life experience, can lead to spiritual growth or development. Theories of spiritual development have focused primarily on stages of spiritual growth, with less attention to its relation to the cultural life course. This paper posits that contemplative, mystical experience is the primary psychological dynamic that enables the qualitative change in life perspective that we associate with spiritual growth. While theoretically possible at any adult age, this shift in perspective is correlated with physical and psychological aging, with the relaxation of social demands that typifies the life stages of later adulthood, and with the simple, close-to-home lives led by many individuals after age 75.

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Correspondence to Robert C. Atchley.

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Atchley, R.C. Everyday mysticism: Spiritual development in later adulthood. J Adult Dev 4, 123–134 (1997). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02510085

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Key Words

  • spiritual development
  • spirituality
  • adult development