Spirituality can be defined as:
… that aspect of human existence that gives it its ‘humanness’. It concerns the structures of significance that give meaning and direction to a person’s life and helps them to deal with the variations of existence. As such it includes such vital dimensions as the quest for meaning, purpose, self-transcending knowledge, meaningful relationships, love and commitment, as well as (for some) a sense of the holy amongst us.
Spirituality is not the same as religion, although religion can be the focus of an individual’s spirituality or the way in which an individual’s spirituality is recognised and expressed. Both spirituality and religion can operate together or independently of the other.
Spirituality represents whatever gives an individual’s life meaning, purpose and fulfilment; that which makes life worth living or meaningful to live.
What are spiritual practices?
A range of spiritual practices may be important to an individual, and these may not necessarily be traditional attendance at a place of worship. Spiritual practices have been identified to include a wide range of activities, from religiously-orientated through to secular spiritual activities. These activities may include:
- Belonging to a faith tradition, participating in associated community-based activities;
- Ritual and symbolic practices and other forms of worship
- Pilgrimage and retreats
- Meditation and prayer
- Reading scripture
- Altruistically helping others to help themselves
- Sacred music (listening to, singing or chanting and playing)
- Acts of compassion (including work)
- Deep reflection or contemplation
- Yoga, Tai Chi and similar practices
- Engaging with and enjoying nature
- Contemplative reading of literature, poetry etc
- Engaging in creative activities, including art, cookery, gardening etc
- Maintaining stable family relationships and friendships (especially those involving high levels of trust and intimacy)
- Group or team sports, and recreational activity.
Individuals’ are often supported through engagement with members and leaders of spiritual or religious organisations. A spiritual community may provide a variety of support, including:
- protecting people from social isolation
- providing and strengthening family and social networks
- providing individuals with a sense of belonging and self-esteem, and
- offering spiritual support in times of adversity,
- offering spiritual guidance in times of need.
Spirituality is unique to the individual
A person’s spiritual beliefs are unique to them, and each person experiences their own spirituality differently.