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Table 1 A definition of spirituality

From: Conceptualising spirituality for medical research and health service provision

Components of the definition Description
1. Belief An assent to or conviction about a domain or existence that goes beyond the material world. This includes all manner of religious or other beliefs that are not based on materialism.
2. Practice Spiritual or religious practice at this level occurs without conscious awareness of, or relationship to, the spiritual realm addressed. Although it involves exercises of imagination and desire such as contemplation, prayer, reading or reflection, the self is not moved by any direct experience of relationship with or connection to the other.
3. Awareness There is an awareness of being moved intellectually and/or emotionally. It includes contemplation, prayer, meditation or reflection when there is conscious awareness of, or response to, this dimension.
4. Experience A discrete experience which may include diffusion of the mind, loss of ego boundaries and a change in orientation from self towards or beyond the material world. The experience usually comes unbidden but may follow a period of reflection, meditation, stress or isolation. Ecstatic experiences are of this type, but experience may be much less intense and more prolonged.
Factors not a part of the definition  
Sources Any consideration of the source of spirituality, be it secular, sacred, divine or diabolical.
Consequences – positive or negative These may be proximate such as happiness, fear, a new sense of meaning or the intention to live an ethical life; or distant such as economic success or failure and changes in physical or mental health, or in relationships.
Other Secular systems of virtue, ethics or morality.