What Is Spirituality?


Spirituality is a sense of meaning and purpose, hope and inner peace. It includes the beliefs and values that guide a person’s actions, interactions with other people, and relationship to a higher power. A spiritual life may also include spiritual practices like prayer, meditation, teshuva (forgiveness), and devotional or inspirational readings. A spiritual life may be based on a particular religion, or it might be more broadly defined to include the belief that there is a universal spirituality.

Research has shown that being spiritual can help people cope with the challenges of life and feel more connected to others. For example, when a person experiences trauma, having a spiritual connection to something bigger than themselves can provide support and healing. A spirituality can also promote prosocial behaviors, including listening to other people, stepping into their shoes, and showing compassion and forgiveness.

The term spirituality can be difficult to define because it often overlaps with religious faith, but there are important differences. Researchers have found that there are cognitive, experiential and behavioral aspects of spirituality. The cognitive or philosophic aspect of spirituality includes an individual’s search for meaning and purpose in life, their beliefs and values, and their feelings of inner peace, love, and connection.

The experiential or emotional aspect of spirituality involves an individual’s experience with the sacred – something that is considered special, awe-inspiring, or deeply meaningful. This could be something as simple as a beautiful sunset, the self-sacrificing kindness of a friend, or a deep spiritual experience during meditation or at a religious service.