Find Meaning in Your Experiences
Spiritual wellness encompasses your sense of connection to something larger than yourself, values, meaning, ethics, or faith. When we are spiritually well, we feel in tune with our inner self as well as our shared humanity. The pursuit of spiritual wellness is different for each person but generally includes the search for truth, meaning, and connection with your innermost self. The way you look at life and death, how you make sense of positive and negative life events, and your relationship with yourself are also influential to this domain of wellness.
What Is Spirituality?
What’s the difference between being religious and being spiritual? You can be either one without the other, but they do overlap. Religion provides a faith tradition which follows a set of practices and beliefs, directing behavior, while spirituality provides internal methods for feeling connected, having meaning and purpose, and understanding emotions.
The Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) launched a major, multi-year program of research to examine the spiritual development of undergraduate students during the college years. They defined spirituality as having one of more the following components:
- The Spiritual Quest -an active quest for answers to life’s “big questions”
- An Ecumenical Worldview -a global worldview that transcends one's own personal and cultural perspective, having the ability to understand a different point of view and being accepting of other’s differences
- The Ethic of Caring- a sense of caring and compassion for others
- Charitable Involvement- a lifestyle that includes service to others
- Equanimity - a capacity to maintain one’s sense of calm and centeredness, especially in times of stress
The Benefits of Spirituality
According to the investigators of the Spirituality in Higher Education Project, experiences on and off-campus that promote spiritual development – especially service learning, interdisciplinary courses, study abroad, self-reflection, and meditation – have uniformly positive effects on traditional college outcomes.
Self-reflection and meditation were found to be the most powerful tools for enhancing spiritual development. Opportunities to connect the “inner self” facilitated growth in academic and leadership skills, contributed to intellectual self-confidence and psychological well-being, as well as enhancing satisfaction with college life. And spiritual practices help one maintain calm in times of stress, so they would be really helpful during the stressful time we are all going through currently.
Tips for Building Spiritual Wellness
There are infinite paths to spirituality, each a personal one. So, give yourself permission to make your spiritual life whatever you want it to be.
Remember, spirituality is not the same as religion, and religion is not the only path toward spiritual development. No matter what rituals we practice or beliefs we live by, we're all seeking the same essential things in life: to be healthy, happy, loved, and free of suffering.
Bring spirituality into your daily life with personal practices that feel authentic to you and embrace your connection to all of humanity. Explore new ideas that give you a sense of meaning, contemplative practices that help you feel connected to your innermost self, and experiences that help you feel connected to the planet and humankind. Ask questions and practice keeping an open heart and mind.
Explore these resources for making your spiritual wellness personal:
Find a group of like-minded people to connect with and deepen your spiritual wellness. A spiritual community is not the same thing as a religious community, though many religious communities could be your spiritual community if it feels right. Your spiritual community can be any group of people who are generally open-minded and interested in concepts like finding meaning, practicing compassion, and pursuing personal exploration.
You can build a spiritual community starting right where you are. Identify peers or campus groups that help you feel safe exploring your spiritual side. Let the relationships build organically. Where it feels accessible, turn the conversation to deeper topics like finding meaning in life, cultivating intimacy, or pursuing your dreams.
If you don't have specific people or a group you could look to for spiritual community, build an inner community of teachers or other leaders whose message resonates with you. Browse for books, podcasts, or TED talks that speak to you at a deep level. Think of this as getting the chance to hear someone's best thinking on a specific topic. Consider these teachers and resources a mental community you can turn to as you develop spiritual wellness.
Explore these articles and resources to learn more about building community:
- Creating a Community and Finding Purpose
- Feel Like You Don't Fit In? Here's How to Find Where You Truly Belong
- 10 Traits that Make a Good Community
Spiritual, Religious, and Cultural Communities for Arizona Students:
- African American Student Affairs
- Asian Pacific American Student Affairs
- Black Student Union
- Campus Christian Center
- Diversity Student Councils
- Guerrero Student Center
- LGBTQ Student Groups
- Little Chapel of All Nations
- Native American Student Affairs
- Saudi Student Association at the University of Arizona
- The American Indian Language Development Institute
- The Arizona Center for Judaic Studies
- The Institute for the Study of Religion and Culture
View more campus communities
Meaning is the sense of being connected to something larger than yourself, perhaps a community, a worldview, or a cause. When we have meaning in our lives, we have a senes of knowing our purpose for being.
Making meaning of our experiences and existence is part of our life journey and spiritual wellness. The questions of who you are, what you value and believe, and who you want to become contribute to your sense of meaning in life. With more self-understanding of these questions, the journey of meaning-making moves to how you live with authenticity and integrity.
Practices that can help with the journey toward meaning and purpose include:
- Contemplative practices such as meditation, journaling, prayer, or introspection.
- Listening to speakers in person or online who talk about spiritual topics.
- Reading spiritual texts.
- Talking with others about spiritual beliefs and practices.
- Learning about other forms of spirituality through direct experience, such as going on a spiritual retreat, or visiting a place of worship or spiritual center.
Explore these resources for living with more meaning and purpose:
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the practice of intentionally focusing one's attention on the present moment without judgment. To practice mindfulness, you can focus your attention on your inner or outer experiences (or both) with an attitude of acceptance and curiosity.
The Purpose Of Mindfulness:
In a mindfulness exercise, the objective is to acknowledge what is here now and what arises in the moment without becoming attached to it. Things that arise in a mindfulness practice include thoughts, feelings, judgments, plans, mental images, or any other human experience.
The Benefits of Mindfulness:
With mindfulness practice, people often find that they are less reactive to their thoughts and less judgmental of themselves. The long-term effects of mindfulness practice can include lower stress, depression, and anxiety, and an increased sense of self-compassion, self-awareness, and connection with humanity.
Explore these articles and tools for developing mindfulness:
More Mindfulness Resources for Arizona Students:
Changing your perspective can change your life, so get out of your head and take a global view every now and then. Consider a problem you're facing from a broader perspective.
- Is this part of our shared human experience?
- Would this situation be viewed differently in another country or by another culture?
- What tools or resources do you have at your disposal that you wouldn't have if your life circumstances were different?
To take a global perspective, you could also commit to learning more about the world. Watch a nature documentary, read the biography of a world leader, or study the history of another country. Have fun while you learn by watching movies from other countries or listening to world music. Local cultural centers as well as study abroad are also great opportunities to broaden your perspective.
Explore these resources and broaden your perspective:
Campus Resources that Broaden Your Perspective:
Resources for Spiritual Wellness
- The Bodhisattva Institute
- Churches-in.com Tucson
- Eventful.com Tucson Spirituality Section
- Gay Tucson LBGT Spirituality page
- The Islamic Center of Tucson
- Kadampa Meditation Center
- Truth Consciousness
- Tucson Baha’is
- The Tucson Jewish Community Center
- Tucson Shambhala Center
- Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson
- Yume Japanese Gardens
Try One Thing. Expand Your Mind.
Make your spiritual wellness journey a personal one and choose one way you'll explore what it means to you.
Campus Resources for Spiritual Wellness
Broaden your perspective with interdisciplinary courses: