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What Is Spirituality? And Can a Spiritual Life Improve Wellbeing?

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Spirituality is a rather nebulous concept that indicates a belief in something outside of ourselves and our day-to-day human experience. In this article, we'll explore some of the tenets of spiritual life and spiritual experience, and look for connections between spiritual beliefs and greater mental health and well-being.

What Are The Differences Between Religion and Spirituality?

Some people tend to conflate spirituality and religion. While religion and spirituality have a lot of overlap, they are not necessarily the same thing. Religion is typically based on specific rules and customs and is most often practiced in a community. There is often a belief in a god of some sort and a strong traditional aspect that is typically born of some sort of religious text.

Spirituality is a far more individual experience. To be spiritual is to focus on a personal journey to find what gives sense and meaning to life. For example, some people find meaning in religion. Others may be more inclined to find the spiritual. Still, others may find their own spiritual experience in friendship and helping others in the world.

You can be both religious and spiritual, or you can be religious and not spiritual, or spiritual and not religious. There is room for a lot of interpretation and experience within the realm of spirituality.

Does a Belief in God Make You Spiritual?

Often a person who believes in a god is spiritual and believes in a spiritual dimension. However, believing in a god or gods is not a prerequisite to being a spiritual person. A human being may be spiritual by simply practicing faith in humanity, or in the idea of self-awareness, or self-improvement.

While some spiritual people believe in a god, others may turn to spirituality because of a poor experience with religion. Many who have experienced religious trauma may find themselves exploring spirituality to offer a sense of the sacred outside of organized religion.

Benefits of Spirituality

Human beings have used spiritual experience to make sense of the world. There are several benefits to spirituality, including the following:

  • Helps people to find meaning and sense in life and the world around them
  • Can be effective in coping with feelings of anxiety, depression, and stress
  • Can create feelings of optimism
  • Offers community and support
  • Spiritual care can help people with illnesses feel better mentally and physically

Challenges of Spirituality

Spirituality can often have a positive impact on morality, and build empathy, but it may also be used in an unhealthy way. When a person uses spirituality to avoid problems, emotions, or conflicts, it can be harmful.

If you use spiritual experience as a form of superiority, it can also be detrimental. Some spiritual or dogmatically religious people may use their spirituality as a way to denigrate others or to try to push their beliefs onto them.

Finally, some people will use religion or spirituality to dismiss the experiences of others. For example, when you're upset about something and someone says "This is just god/the universe getting your attention" or "Everything happens for a reason" it can be damaging to your relationship.

Spiritual Experiences and Practices to Explore

There are several ways that a person can be spiritual. For those who wonder, "What is spirituality?"  the answer is "almost anything." Here are some common spiritual practices you can try:

  • Embracing your humanity, and reflecting on the good and bad things that make you human.
  • Meditation. Take a few minutes a day to quiet the mind and focus on simply being.
  • Practice gratitude. You can do a gratitude meditation, or start a gratitude journal to keep track of all the good things in your life.
  • Give to others. This can be time, attention, money, service, or even loving thoughts.
  • Learn mindfulness. By becoming more aware of the present, you can learn to better appreciate the meaning in small things, feel a stronger connectedness with nature, and even better understand life in general.
  • Mysticism can also be a way to practice spirituality. Searching the unknown through things like tarot, the divine aspects of nature, and other types of insights to help you perceive the spiritual realm can bring meaning and satisfaction to some people.

What Are Some Alternatives to Spirituality?

Some people don't believe in a spiritual dimension or any gods, and yet they can still get the same benefits and positive emotions as spiritual people. Faith isn't necessary to well-being, peace, or caring deeply about life and community.

Those who are not spiritual or religious can find the same sort of benefits in social connectedness. Studies have shown that the benefits received from spiritual experience or beliefs can be the same for atheists and other non-believers who gather and spend time together in a sense of unity. Atheist or agnostic groups exist for this reason so that like-minded people can pull together and practice their style of community.

A longevity study was done on both religious and non-religious people. It showed that religious people lived longer than atheists. However, upon further observation, when you looked at religious people and atheists who both had strong social connections, their life expectancies were the same. Social connection is part of being a human being and offers the same sort of meaning as spiritual life can.

Therapy as a Way to Explore Your Spirituality

One of the major aspects of spirituality is learning more about yourself and how you relate to others in your life. The nature of therapy is one of self-discovery, which can help you to explore your beliefs, find peace, and improve mental health and well-being. If you are interested in learning more about yourself and your connection to the world, therapy can be an effective solution.

Exploring Spirituality in Austin, TX

If you are on a journey of spirituality and self-discovery, therapy can be a guide and helping hand.

At Williamsburg Therapy Group our we offer availability both in-person and online therapy so you can easily fit it into your busy schedule.

Give us a call today, and our patient coordinator will help you find the right Austin therapist to offer you the tools and insights you need to better connect with yourself and the world around you.

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