Spirituality is the belief that there’s more to life than the physical world; more to the universe than purposeless mechanical forces; and more to consciousness than electrical impulses in the brain. It involves the desire for meaning, peace, mystery, and truth. Spirituality is distinct from religion, and it may occur within or outside of a religious context.
Spiritual experiences often involve ritual. Rituals are actions that are performed regularly with a feeling of reverence or seriousness, and they help us develop certain feelings or states of mind. Examples of rituals include prayer, meditation, fasting, chanting, attending church services, yoga, and other devotional practices. Service is also a core spiritual principle, and it can take many forms — from helping other believers to feeding the poor, social reform, translation of scriptures, or supporting online communities.
Unlike the concepts of intelligence or happiness, which have clear, agreed-on definitions, it’s not easy to define spirituality in scientific terms. This ambiguity presents challenges for both researchers and those who are interested in understanding how to better use spirituality measures.
Despite this difficulty, several research studies have attempted to create a framework for the study of spirituality in healthcare. However, most of these efforts have been insufficient to meet the rigorous standards of systematic review and meta-analysis.