counseling

Counseling & Coaching

You can thrive. We can help.

  • While religion and spirituality are often viewed as synonymous, they involve different beliefs and practices.
  • Religion involves subscribing oneself to a specific set of beliefs and often praising a higher power, while spirituality is connecting to something bigger than oneself.
  • You can find greater meaning and fulfillment in religion by going to church, praying, and joining a group of individuals with the same belief system.
  • You can explore your spirituality and find purpose in doing so by taking some time each day to center yourself, as well as engaging your physical and mental self.
  • Furthermore, experiment with different spiritual practices to see what best suits you: try connecting with art, nature, or important people in your life.

The terms “religion” and “spirituality” are often used synonymously, but really, they have very different definitions. Spirituality often refers to exploring or experiencing something greater than oneself—which may or may not involve religious practices. Meredith Riddick, a Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor and Certified Eating Disorders Specialist-Survivor, helps to answer the question, “How is spirituality different from religion?” further.

“Religion and spirituality are often words that get thrown around in the same context. However, for a lot of individuals, these can mean different things. It’s possible that someone could be religious and spiritual, but others may feel they are spiritual yet not religious. Religion more often means a particular set of beliefs that a group of people subscribe to. However, spirituality may mean a feeling people get with regards to something bigger than themselves, perhaps even transcendent.”

Finding Meaning in Religion: 3 Key Practices

Are you interested in learning more about finding meaning in religion? “Religion often involves believing in a specific higher power such as God, Allah, or Buddha that one prays to and looks to for guidance through a specific set of beliefs or principles,” Riddick explains. You can honor your religion and in turn feel a greater sense of purpose or meaning by engaging in the following:

1. Going to church.

You’ll likely find the greatest connection to your religion in your place of worship. For example, if you belong to a Christian church, make a habit of going to church each week. If you’re Catholic, make a habit of going to confession on a consistent basis or when you feel you need to. This will bring you closer to your god and religion and in turn fill you with purpose.

2. Praying.

Prayer can also help you connect with your religion and find meaning. You can start this practice by praying anytime you feel inclined to. You can also (when you feel ready) work this into your schedule. For example, plan to pray before getting in or out of bed each day.

3. Joining a group.

You can get closer to your religion and feel a higher sense of purpose by also joining a group that shares the same beliefs as you. Often, meeting with these groups involves reading the bible (or holy book), discussing your morals, and sharing relevant experiences.

If you are religious (or want to explore a religion), the above practices can help you feel closer to your religion and discover a greater purpose in life.

Follow These Tips to Find Fulfillment in Spirituality

Again, the big question is, “How is spirituality different from religion?” While spirituality can involve religious practices, those who aren’t religious can also practice spirituality and find fulfillment in life. “Often, individuals who are non-religious but highly spiritual find being in nature an experience that transcends our normal daily living experiences. It perhaps allows for a time of reflection or meditation that re-centers us,” Riddick explains. If you are interested in exploring your spirituality (but you don’t have any religious inclinations), start by challenging yourself with the following:

  • Do some research. Expand and inspire your mind by researching the essence of spirituality. You’ve already started with this article but take it a step further by reading an autobiography or documentary, perhaps, that delves into the personal experience.
  • Take a quiet moment to yourself each day. Set aside some time each day to just sit in silence. Do your best to quiet your mind—meditation and mindfulness can help. This quiet time will help you better understand and center yourself.
  • Utilize your physical self. Don’t forget about the physical. Our bodies play a role in our spirituality, too. Try expressing yourself through physical activity like dancing, practicing yoga, or playing music.
  • Experiment. You should also experiment with different spiritual practices to see what works for you. Many tap into their spirituality by engaging in art, connecting with nature, or even serving others.
  • Remain open. Whatever you do, remain open to different possibilities and opportunities to connect with something greater than yourself. This will yield the best outcome in your search for meaning, purpose, and fulfillment through spirituality.

In summary, the answer to our question, “Are religion and spirituality the same?” is no, they are different. You can have one without the other. But more importantly, you can benefit from dedicating time and effort into your religion as well as exploring your spirituality—as both religion and spirituality help us find greater purpose and fulfillment in life.

Taylor Bennett

Taylor Bennett

Taylor Bennett is a staff writer at Thriveworks. She devotes herself to distributing important information about mental health and wellbeing, writing mental health news and self-improvement tips daily. Taylor received her bachelor’s degree in multimedia journalism, with minors in professional writing and leadership from Virginia Tech. She is a co-author of Leaving Depression Behind: An Interactive, Choose Your Path Book and has published content on Thought Catalog, Odyssey, and The Traveling Parent.

We wrote a "choose your own adventure" style book about depression. To help as many people as possible, we're selling it for what it costs to print ($6.80) on Amazon.com. Check it out: Leaving Depression Behind: An Interactive, Choose Your Path Book

Interested in writing for us?


Read our guidelines
Share This