Spirituality and Religion

Spirituality has long been a source of comfort and strength for many people. It can help with the emotional and physical aspects of mental health and wellness. Spirituality can help individuals cope with stress and feel more hope and optimism. However, it is important to distinguish spirituality from religion. While there used to be an unambiguous association between spirituality and formal religious expression, today it is appropriate to see formal religious practices as a subset of a larger pluralistic ontology of all-things-spiritual.

The term spirituality is often associated with a search for meaning and purpose in life, beliefs and values, and feelings of inner peace, connection, and hope. It may be expressed through a practice or ritual, a personal relationship with a higher power, or an appreciation of the transcendent (e.g., a divine presence, a universe with meaning and value, a supreme being). It can be assessed using validated instruments such as the Spiritual Involvement and Beliefs Scale and the Spiritual Well-Being Scale.

There are different approaches to spirituality, and each individual can choose a pathway that is meaningful and supportive of his or her unique needs. Some examples include goddess religions, which invest the body and nature with spiritual significance, Native American spirituality, which involves recognizing signs of Spirit’s activity in the natural world through the simple act of walking in a forest or gathering with community, Islam, which encourages believers to see manifestations of God in the everyday activities of daily living, and Hinduism, which emphasizes taking the ordinary and making it sacred.