Spirituality is a dimension of human experience that includes beliefs and practices related to the transcendent, and can include a sense of meaning and purpose (even in those who are not religious). It comes into focus during times of emotional distress, physical (and mental) illness, death, and other life crises. Spirituality can also be an important component of holistic health, and is associated with greater wellbeing and resilience.
A number of definitions and descriptions of spirituality have been offered in the literature. However, a more holistic understanding of spirituality would involve considering multiple dimensions of what makes up a person’s worldview. To do this, I propose the use of metaphors to broaden our understanding of spirituality.
Likening spirituality to wind can help us expand our definition of what is spiritual, because the wind does not need to be visible in order to impact the environment and cause changes. It can affect trees and plants, causing them to sway in the breeze or disperse seeds across a distance. It can provide comfort and relief, or cause discomfort. It can even be destructive, like in the case of tornadoes or hurricanes.
Another way to broaden our definition of spirituality is to consider the various cultures that people are immersed in, and how these cultures shape their spiritual experiences. For example, some people may have a strong spiritual connection to their religion or religious practice, while others may be more influenced by their dominant culture or the cultural subcultures with which they are affiliated. These cultural influences can be a source of inspiration, reverence, and awe, as well as of wisdom, compassion, love, gratitude, and hope.