Religious beliefs are usually thought to be constant, but new research shows that spirituality may depend on daily lifestyle.
Spiritual awareness varies throughout the day, depending on activities, environment, and time of day. According to a study by University of Connecticut researchers, people had the highest levels of spiritual awareness in the morning, as well as during activities like reading, exercising, and listening to music.
Most people view spiritual and religious beliefs as a constant, but the study showed that wasn’t the case. The researchers used SoulPulse — a smartphone study that tracks users’ spiritual experiences and then creates an interactive spirituality report with the data. SoulPulse sends users texts and surveys throughout the day, determining how different factors in their daily lives affect their overall spirituality and happiness in real-time.
The researchers analyzed data from over 2,400 people over a timespan between November 2013 and May 2015. The results showed that people who spent the most time at work seemed to have the lowest spiritual awareness of God or a higher power. It was also lowest during activities like playing video games.
Interestingly, people who watched the news had higher overall spiritual awareness than those who didn’t, but spirituality was lowered during the actual act of watching the news. Perhaps the reports of distressing events and atrocities lower spiritual awareness during the initial reaction to news events, but being more aware of current events ultimately creates a greater need to practice spirituality.
"What surprised us is how much people vary in awareness of God across the day and across activities," said Bradley R.E. Wright, associate professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut and a co-author of the study. "There is a complex interplay between spiritual awareness and the situation. Sometimes the situation you are in affects your spiritual awareness. Other times your spiritual awareness affects the situation you're in.”
The study shows that spiritual awareness is most prominent during activities that are associated with “positive” lifestyle functions — like reading and exercising — while more stressful activities like work and watching the news reduce the spiritual feelings. This complex interplay between spiritual awareness and daily lifestyle demonstrates that spirituality isn’t necessarily as constant as thought before.