Spirituality is a wide range of beliefs, values and practices that are not necessarily religious. It includes a sense of connection with others and nature, and a desire to understand life’s purpose and meaning. It is a belief in something greater than oneself, and it may also include practices such as prayer, meditation, and yoga. It can also include acts of service to others, such as feeding the homeless or providing care for patients with AIDS.
To construct a definition of spirituality, we read many articles and categorized them into themes. Those that were more cognitive (search for meaning and truth) and those that were experiential and emotional were included in our final definition. Those that were only descriptive and cited existing definitions were excluded.
As you review the different definitions of spirituality in Table 1.1, consider what is important to you personally. For example, do you want to focus on the search for meaning and purpose, or are you more interested in a spiritual relationship with nature? Do you feel more compelled to serve others, or are you drawn to the exploration and mystery of life? As you read the definitions in Table 1.1, try to identify any words or phrases that resonate with you. If there is a strong relationship between that word or phrase and your spirituality, draw a thick black line to indicate a strong connection; a dotted line to show a weaker or uncertain connection; and a squiggly line to suggest no relationship at all.