This is the time of year when many people celebrate Christmas, whether or not they are believers that Jesus was born on December 25th. Of course, many religions do embrace this belief—Methodists, Catholics, and other Christian religions—while others adhere to different doctrines.
I find it very interesting to contemplate both religion and spirituality, especially considering that Christmas has become more materialistic in the past century. Religion involves faith or belief in a creed, and spirituality is a broader concept, involving even biology. According to psychologist Catarina Lino, the science of spirituality explores the link between religion and well-being. A question arises: Does maintaining a spiritual practice improve one's biological health? Lino quotes Sri Daya Mata, “Spirituality lies not in the power to heal others, to perform miracles, or to astound the world with your wisdom, but in the ability to endure with right attitude whatever crosses we have to face in our daily lives and then rise above them.”
Recently Americans have become less religious, as measured in the frequency that they attend religious services and by the value that they assign religion in their lives (Masc, D., Lipka, M., and Post, S., 2016). On the other hand, the number of people who identify as spiritual has increased. There has been growth in the discussion about the universe and the deep quest for well-being, further blurring the lines between spirituality and science. Data supports this trend: between 2007 and 2014, the percentage of U.S. Christians who report weekly wonder about the universe increased from 38 to 45 percent.
According to the American Psychological Association in 2014, people who report having a spiritual practice are more likely to:
Since I no longer participate in a specific religion and now focus on spiritual practices—especially meditating daily and deeply discussing spirituality with others—I definitely view and experience life in a different, more fulfilling way.
Dear readers, what are your experiences regarding religion and spirituality? All comments are most welcome!