This article is part of a running series with Rowan University’s Healthy Campus Initiatives. This collaboration aims to educate students about personal well-being options. For further updates, follow @RowanHCI on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.
Religion has always been an integral part of human culture and continues to be present in the lives of many, providing a sense of community, faith and purpose. While religious practices can be very beneficial, there are still many people who do not feel connected to or welcomed by various denominations and instead, seek out an alternate path.
Spirituality and religion, though they may seem interchangeable, are completely separate, with spirituality focusing more on an inward journey and understanding rather than external worship. Christina Puchalski, MD, a leader in incorporating spirituality into healthcare, explains, “Spirituality is the aspect of humanity that refers to the way individuals seek and express meaning and purpose and the way they experience their connectedness to the moment, to self, to others, to nature, and to the significant or sacred.”
Spirituality is an inclusive approach that embraces connectivity to forces larger than the self, and without the rigidity of traditional religious institutions, gives individuals the freedom to worship in the way that works best for them. Often called the “pathless-path,” spirituality is unique to each individual and may involve connecting to a higher state or resonating with the belief in a higher power.
Spiritual practices including meditation, yoga and contemplation allow individuals to explore a consciousness-based worldview that values love and kindness above all. Studies have shown that individuals with any form of belief in a higher power were shown to use their religious or spiritual practice as a way to cope with life stressors. This form of coping is very beneficial, improving feelings of well-being, decreasing stress and depression, and even decreasing one’s fear of death and dying.
Spirituality not only serves to improve one’s overall health and wellness, but provides a path based on one unifying force, where everyone has the freedom to discover their own faith and where no one is left out.
Leah Mahon, senior psychology major
Stephanie Batista, junior business management major
Lucas Taylor, senior English education major
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