In general, spiritual significance involves a connection with something greater than ourselves and a search for meaning in life. Our personal definition of spirituality can change over time, adapting to our experiences and relationships. Contemplative practices are activities that help us to focus our attention on a specific concept or sensation, and many spiritual traditions have used them to increase empathy, compassion, and attention, as well as to calm the mind. The word “spirituality” has its roots in Christian theology, deriving from the Latin noun spiritualitas and the Greek noun pneuma, which means spirit.
In its original Christian sense, a “spiritual person” was someone in whom the Spirit of God dwelt. Studies have shown that spirituality is linked to many important aspects of human functioning, such as positive relationships, high self-esteem, optimism, and having meaning and purpose in life. Spirituality suggests that there is more to life than what we experience on a physical level. It can be used as a way to avoid or cope with problems, emotions or conflicts.
The distinction between the spiritual and the religious became more common in the late 20th century with the rise of secularism and the New Age movement. Part of spiritual well-being involves considering other people's perspectives and always seeking the good, even in those where goodness is not immediately evident. Spirituality can be expressed in many ways, whether it is tied to a religion, moral philosophy or an inherent sense of connection with something greater than oneself. Catholic spirituality is based on living a personal act of faith after accepting faith.
Adhering to a particular spiritual tradition can bring health benefits because many traditions have rules about treating the body with kindness and avoiding unhealthy behaviors. There are also many other spiritual traditions around the world, including traditional African and indigenous spiritual practices. Indian literature has debated the merits of theoretical spiritual practices. These virtues come from the introspection of spirituality because they require self-knowledge.
Studies have shown that religious or spiritual views can bring comfort to people, but they also demonstrate scientifically that these activities have benefits for many people. Interpretations of kabbalistic spirituality are found in Hassidic Judaism, a branch of Orthodox Judaism founded in 18th century Eastern Europe by Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov. Spirituality encourages people to be positive and let go of guilt and negative feelings after hurtful incidents. This practice is reflected in several spiritual traditions such as Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Judaism.
The term spiritual has often been used in contexts where the term religious was previously used.