Spirituality may be understood as an awareness of that which transcends the individual in the here and now. However, even in looking beyond oneself, spirituality is grounded to present life in meaning, ritual and values. In the face of adverse circumstances, spirituality represents an aspect of resilience that touches individuals, communities and cultures.
Individuals report increased well-being and physical health when personal spiritual practices are higher, and meaning making is one component of individual post-traumatic recovery. However, spiritual practice and belief are generally not only a personal variable. Religious traditions provide a framework of belief and tradition that offer solace and support. The empirical literature investigating spiritual and religious variables presents a complex mix of resilience and risk.
Exposure to trauma can lessen spiritual well-being; yet, individuals who report an internalized spirituality also report greater resilience after adversity. A key to understanding the unique role of spirituality is to take into account the dynamic nature of spiritual development which relates to both one’s awareness of transcendence, as well as one’s connection to a like-minded community. This religious or spiritual community may be a formal religious tradition, a group how hold similar ideas, or a virtual community of writing and commnunication.
The journey of spiritual development moves through the awareness of transcendence, the socialization to a spiritual community, the role as a leader, to the challenge of questioning the stucture, the doctrine, and even the divine.
The final stages of spiritual development offer a flexibility that allows for questioning and mystery, as well as a renewed sense of connection to community. Each stage of development highlights specific aspects of the mechanisms of spiritual resilience: belief and meaning; support and community; and action and ritual.