What Is Spirituality?

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Spirituality is a belief in something bigger than yourself — that there is more to life than just sensory and physical experience, and that there are deeper truths about humanity and the universe. It can include religious traditions that center on a belief in a higher power, but it also can encompass many other beliefs and practices, including self-improvement activities like yoga.

Those who describe themselves as spiritual often say that they have no religion or have walked away from one, but that they still believe in something larger than themselves. Many of them may be looking for a way to cope with the uncertainty and upheaval in their lives, but they also want to live with meaning and purpose, and they want to feel more connected to others.

This desire to connect with a bigger picture can lead to a wide range of spiritual practices, from focusing on the good and helping people, to meditating or doing yoga. It can be difficult to distinguish between different ways of thinking about and doing spirituality, however, because the term can sometimes be used interchangeably with “religion.”

Some research has shown that those who are more spiritual have lower stress reactivity and a less fearful attitude toward death than those who don’t have strong religious beliefs. But it’s important to avoid using spirituality as a way to escape from painful emotions or problems. The pitfalls of this practice are known as spiritual bypassing, in which individuals use their spirituality to avoid dealing with their own issues or feelings.