Defining Spirituality

There have been numerous proposed definitions of spirituality over the years each reflecting an influence of the culture and religion at that point in time ((Vaillot 1970; Colliton, 1981; Amenta, 1986; Stoll, 1989; Reed, 1992; Narayanasamy, 1999; Tanyi, 2002; Tuck, 2004; Burkhardt & Jacobson, 2005; Dossey & Guzzeta, 2005). Many individuals have used the terms religion and spirituality interchangeably but there is a perceived difference between the two. The essence of religion is found in a community of shared beliefs and a common destiny expressed through ritual practices. Religion confers an identity on an individual and on a group which can foster exclusiveness (Schultz, 1999). By definition as a human being we all have a spirit, but we do not all have a religion (Kosmin, Keysar, Cragun & Rivera-Navarro, 2008).

In contrast, spirituality is perceived as inclusive, and sees the individual as amember of the universal family of humanity. Spirituality is the recognition of a divine expression of love in every human being that transcends culture and time. It is that which questions the meaning of purpose in life (Schultz, 1999). As a result, spirituality is perceived as a broader concept by virtue of its universal social integration and lack of dogma.


Spirituality‘s domains of meaning have undergone profound changes in relation to its context of use. The definition of spirituality for this research was: An essential philosophy of life centered on the awareness of a pervasive universal creative force that provides a sense of interconnectedness and an awareness of purpose and meaning in life as an ongoing process to transcend the physical existence in daily life. This definition was derived through a concept analysis to coincide with the development of a spirituality instrument (Bennington, 2003), which determined the following attributes as being associated with the term: a sense of connectedness/oneness, transcendence/inner peace, faith/belief, hope, purpose, and self-actualization. Foundational assumptions within this definition include the concept that individuals be viewed holistically to include social, psychological, physical, and spiritual dimensions, which implies consideration of cultural influences and the presence or absence of religion. The essence of spirituality involves finding meaning in life through personal experiences, which may or may not include a specific religious belief. This essence is grasped through an integrated energy of mind, body, and spirit to transcend whatever is encountered. The sharing of these experiences enhances their meaning and makes them more authentic (Tuck, 2004).


Folksonomies: spirituality medicine

/religion and spirituality (0.747433)
/business and industrial/energy/renewable energy (0.172020)
/family and parenting/children (0.168953)

spirituality (0.976080 (positive:0.068378)), universal social integration (0.778674 (negative:-0.394261)), universal creative force (0.772505 (positive:0.814565)), specific religious belief (0.752574 (neutral:0.000000)), spirituality instrument (0.721463 (positive:0.269466)), religion (0.693410 (positive:0.624835)), terms religion (0.649470 (neutral:0.000000)), common destiny (0.625904 (positive:0.848304)), ritual practices (0.623931 (positive:0.848304)), broader concept (0.618969 (negative:-0.394261)), universal family (0.614932 (positive:0.461710)), profound changes (0.614149 (neutral:0.000000)), Foundational assumptions (0.614071 (positive:0.359675)), divine expression (0.607712 (positive:0.972815)), Spirituality‘s domains (0.606265 (neutral:0.000000)), daily life (0.606175 (positive:0.814565)), concept analysis (0.604141 (positive:0.269466)), integrated energy (0.603545 (positive:0.469812)), essential philosophy (0.601858 (positive:0.814565)), transcendence/inner peace (0.601376 (positive:0.254099)), ongoing process (0.599487 (positive:0.814565)), physical existence (0.597451 (positive:0.814565)), following attributes (0.596507 (neutral:0.000000)), spiritual dimensions (0.595917 (neutral:0.000000)), cultural influences (0.592656 (neutral:0.000000)), personal experiences (0.590568 (positive:0.214973)), definition (0.557314 (positive:0.346828)), amp (0.556759 (positive:0.259477)), essence (0.535831 (positive:0.511030))

Schultz:Person (0.826949 (neutral:0.000000)), Bennington:Person (0.636399 (positive:0.269466)), Tuck:Person (0.556703 (neutral:0.000000)), Colliton:Person (0.536941 (neutral:0.000000)), Dossey:Company (0.534259 (neutral:0.000000)), Guzzeta:Person (0.533961 (neutral:0.000000)), Cragun:Company (0.525315 (neutral:0.000000)), Amenta:Person (0.519664 (neutral:0.000000)), Jacobson:Person (0.508170 (neutral:0.000000)), Burkhardt:Person (0.505157 (positive:0.259477)), Stoll:Person (0.504163 (neutral:0.000000)), Reed:Person (0.483454 (neutral:0.000000)), Narayanasamy:Person (0.481996 (neutral:0.000000)), Tanyi:Person (0.481698 (neutral:0.000000))

Meaning of life (0.976996): dbpedia | freebase | yago
Religion (0.555320): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Life (0.483695): dbpedia | freebase
Spirituality (0.478589): dbpedia | freebase
Philosophy of life (0.460678): dbpedia | freebase
Human (0.388296): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Purpose (0.386479): dbpedia
Philosophy of language (0.372718): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc

 The Relationship Among Maternal Infant Bonding, Spirituality, and Maternal Perception of Childbirth Experience
Doctoral Dissertations and Master's Theses>Doctoral Dissertation:  Bennington, Linda (2010), The Relationship Among Maternal Infant Bonding, Spirituality, and Maternal Perception of Childbirth Experience, Retrieved on 2016-05-30
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  • Folksonomies: spirituality medicine