Spirituality Can Be Practiced by Anyone, No Matter What Religion


During difficult times, many people look to spirituality to help them cope and to restore hope. Often, though, the word “spirituality” brings to mind religious beliefs or practices. This is why it can be confusing for people who want to explore spirituality but may not have a religion or who are concerned that finding a spiritual path will take them out of their religious faith. This article aims to clarify what spirituality is and to show that it can be practiced by anyone, no matter their religious background.

Galen Watts receives funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada as the Head of Graduate Research in the Spirituality, Nature and Culture Laboratory based at Queen’s University. The Conversation is editorially independent from funders.

The concept of spirituality has a long history in human development and can be found in many cultures. It is an area of inquiry that is rich and diverse, encompassing the cognitive or philosophical, the experiential and the emotional, the interpersonal, and the behavioral. The breadth of spirituality is a challenge for researchers and clinicians who want to understand it and to apply it in the context of their work with clients. Cox (2003) describes two cases of a 37-year-old male client who adhered to common aboriginal traditions and spoke of his spiritual experiences with staff. He expressed spirituality through outward rituals, but did not describe the underlying philosophy of these traditions. His beliefs and spiritual experiences were complex, involving a combination of philosophies and traditions such as: Buddhism: achieve enlightenment (nirvana); see reality as it is; purify the mind; unite with the universal Soul; realize true Self.

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