The Benefits of Spirituality
A spiritual experience is a sense of awe, wonder, peace, meaning and connection. It can be triggered by stress, illness, loss, death or a desire to understand the universe. It often involves a belief in an immaterial, higher form of intelligence or consciousness running the universe and a quest for answers to life’s big questions. It can also involve an inner journey of self-discovery and the desire to serve others. People from all religions and no religion can be spiritual. Those who feel spiritual are not necessarily religious and can be atheists or agnostics.
In my interviews and focus groups, many people described a connection to themselves, a higher power, the dead or other human beings, the natural environment and other species as central to their spirituality. These connections are a fundamental part of a spiritual lifestyle and often engender feelings of kinship with the entire world.
Spirituality is often seen as a counter to the overly material and secular culture of modern society. Many of my study participants believe that contemporary societies are too focused on accumulating possessions and outward success, while neglecting the things that matter most. It’s no wonder that the Dalai Lama quipped that while the West was busy exploring outer space, the East was busy exploring inner space! The bottom line is that a spiritual lifestyle may make you happier and healthier. It brings our mental, physical and emotional lives into alignment. This can result in better relationships, more meaningful work and a feeling that your existence is serving a purpose.