What does it mean to be spiritual, and is it the same as being religious? A path that leads to awareness of something greater than everyday life is one of the most powerful gifts any of us can receive. But sometimes that path seems elusive. If you’re still searching for the church or philosophy that best feeds your spirit, consider some of the benefits religion and spirituality have to offer.

Benefits of Religion

By definition, religion is a codified system created by humans that spells out the rules and expected behavior of that religion’s members. Some people feel the boundaries of religion create a safe place in which to learn more about God and the part they play in the divine plan.

Religions often describe God as a loving, omnipresent parent who lives in the heavens. Some feel the concept of God as a father provides a sense of safety and security.

Most religions are based on belief, otherwise known as faith. With faith, it’s not necessary to always experience an event first-hand in order to believe in it. Faith builds trust and can bring great comfort in times of crisis.

Benefits of Spirituality

Spirituality might be described as the human need to connect with something greater than the seen world. Spirituality is an individual experience that may be realized through adherence to the rules of religion, but it is not dependent on dogma.

Spirituality teaches that there’s no separation between God and humans. God is not generally viewed as a gender-specific being who watches over us, but as a spiritual presence that can be seen and felt everywhere, especially in the human heart.

As a concept, a spiritual path is absent of judgment or fear and is built on acceptance, love and universality. Spirituality does not teach that only one path leads to salvation, but that all ways have merit.

Religious people can be spiritual people, yet religion is not necessary for spirituality. Both religion and spirituality offer gifts such as community, personal growth and a greater enjoyment of life.