International Journal of Existential Positive Psychology

What Does Spirituality Mean to You? An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of Spirituality as a Lived Experience

Fiona English, MAPPCP

University of East London

Tim Lomas, PhD

University of East London


The concept of spirituality has seen increased interest in recent years and is recognised as a positive contributor to an individual’s sense of wellbeing and meaning in life. Despite numerous definitions of the term, there remains a lack of research investigating what the lived experience of spirituality is like. As the number of people who consider themselves spiritual but not religious grows, this study sought to understand at a deeper level what spirituality is as a lived experience. Using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, four in-depth interviews were conducted to understand each personal account of spirituality. Findings show that spirituality comprises a deep belief in and embodied connection to a higher power and resulted in greater meaning and purpose in life, the development of a more authentic life and a path to self-actualisation. Of surprise was the clear significance of embodied connection with a higher power. A theoretical model was devised to reflect these findings. Recommendations for greater research on the lived experience of spirituality and the role of embodiment are included in the discussion.

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