Spirituality is an aspect of people’s lives that incorporates the search for meaning, purpose and truth. It can take many forms, and includes beliefs and behaviors that promote connection and inner peace.
It can also include experiences such as time in nature, private prayer, meditating and yoga. People often consider themselves spiritual even though they may not be affiliated with any organized religion. This is especially true in times of emotional stress, physical illness or loss. Spirituality seeks inspiration, reverence and awe and strives for answers to the infinite questions of life, death and eternity (Murray, 2007).
Research on spirituality is still evolving. The definitions of religiosity and spirituality are often confused and the breadth of their scope complicates the development of research instruments to measure them. In addition, a tendency to interpret spirituality as religious may lead to potentially harmful pitfalls such as dogmatism and an inability to address problems or feelings.
In the past, it was common to view all spiritual practices as a form of religion. However, researchers are now exploring spirituality as a distinct construct, separate from religiosity. This shift in emphasis is helping to clarify the meaning and definition of spirituality, making it easier to research. It is also facilitating the development of measurement tools that are less prone to interpretation. These measures can be used to assess aspects of spirituality related to health, such as the quality of relationships and connections with others, a sense of hope, and feelings of inner peace, love and support.