Spirituality encompasses a wide range of personal beliefs and experiences. It may include searching for meaning and purpose; seeking to understand one’s life situations or finding a deeper sense of connectedness with something that is bigger than the individual self (transcendence); or engaging in rituals that may be related to one’s beliefs. In addition, spirituality is a way of living, which can be seen in the daily activities and habits of people who are spiritual.
People are often confused about what exactly is meant by spirituality. This is in part because there are many different types of spiritual practices and traditions, each with its own definition and understanding. Atheists, agnostics and believers can all be considered spiritual, but they differ in their views of the nature of this dimension of human experience. Atheists and agnostics often have similar concerns about the meaning and purpose of life, for example, but they might have different answers to these questions.
To help define and distinguish these differences, we have developed a framework that incorporates cognitive (head), experiential (heart) and behavioral (hands) aspects of spirituality. This is referred to as the 3 H model, and it aims to provide clinicians, researchers and students with a more practical tool for understanding lived spirituality. The model also helps to differentiate spirituality from religion.