Spirituality is a broad concept with room for many perspectives. In general, it includes a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves, and it typically involves a search for meaning in life. As such, it is a universal human experience—something that touches us all. People may describe a spiritual experience as sacred or transcendent or simply a deep sense of aliveness and interconnectedness.
Some may find that their spiritual life is intricately linked to their association with a church, temple, mosque, or synagogue. Others may pray or find comfort in a personal relationship with God or a higher power. Still others seek meaning through their connections to nature or art. Like your sense of purpose, your personal definition of spirituality may change throughout your life, adapting to your own experiences and relationships.
Spirituality versus emotional health
You will notice as you read on that many practices recommended for cultivating spirituality are similar to those recommended for improving emotional wellbeing. This is because there is a connection between the two—emotional and spiritual wellbeing influence one another and overlap, as do all aspects of wellbeing.
Spirituality is about seeking a meaningful connection with something bigger than yourself, which can result in positive emotions, such as peace, awe, contentment, gratitude, and acceptance.
Emotional health is about cultivating a positive state of mind, which can broaden your outlook to recognize and incorporate a connection to something larger than yourself.
Another way of putting it:
It is hard to find meaning and connection in life if you are ruminating over negative emotions. Likewise, it can be difficult to cultivate positive emotions, such as gratitude and compassion, if you don’t recognize a larger perspective or sense of interconnectedness in the world.
Thus, emotions and spirituality are distinct but linked, deeply integrated with one another.
What types of spirituality are there?
Mystical spirituality is based around a desire to move beyond the material world, beyond the senses, ego and even beyond time. This approach centres on personal relationships and a sense of unity with all things.
Authoritarian spirituality is a particularly strong form of spirituality based around a need for definition and rules. This type of spirituality is particularly common in specific religious practices.
Intellectual spirituality focuses on building knowledge and understanding of spirituality through analysing history and spiritual theories. This approach can be found in the study of religion, also known as theology.
Service spirituality is a common form of spirituality in many religious faiths. This is predominantly built around serving others as a form of spiritual expression.
Social spirituality is often practiced by people who experience a spiritual feeling in the company of others. Social support is often seen as one of the important aspects of spirituality in general.
Why do people practice spirituality?
Many people see spirituality as a great way of seeking solace and peace in their life. It can often be practiced alongside things like yoga, which ultimately focus on stress relief and release of emotion.
Spirituality is also used as a way of gaining perspective, recognising that our role in life has a greater value than just what we do every day. It can separate a person from dependence on material things and establish a greater purpose. Some people also see spirituality as a way of coping with change or uncertainty.