Definitions of Spirituality and Its Dimensions
Spirituality encompasses many aspects of daily life and is influenced by religious, non-religious, or no belief at all. It strives for inspiration, reverence, awe, meaning and purpose in a person’s existence and comes into focus during times of emotional stress, physical (and mental) illness, loss, bereavement or death. It is a dimension of self that may not be directly accessible to the mind, but can be experienced with the heart.
As a result, it is difficult to define. As noted in Reflection 1.1, many people are interested in something larger than themselves, but are unsure what to call it or how to define it. Some describe it as God, or Spirit, or the Source of all that is. Others feel that it is within them, and are on a spiritual journey to discover the hidden truths of their own being.
In a recent study of the literature on this topic, researchers sought to identify definitions of spirituality and their dimensions. They used a multistage process of review to find and select articles. In the first stage, authors were identified and screened for their knowledge of the subject. Articles were then read and classified, using a content analysis, into nine categories. The findings suggest that there are seven definitions of spirituality and its dimensions. Identifying these definitions can help health care professionals better understand and care for clients’ spirituality. The following is a sample of these definitions, followed by the ten most common elements found across all definitions.