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Spirituality Fluctuates During the Day

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Lots of things fluctuate over the course of one day—the stock market, your body temperature, the weather outside. So, too, does our sense of spirituality, according to a new study from the University of Connecticut.

Finding that spirituality is varying, not a constant, UConn researchers drew their conclusions using data from a larger, ongoing study called SoulPulse. SoulPulse, conducted by a team of sociologists and psychologists, looks at the role of spirituality and how it affects our character, health and well being. It collects data via daily surveys on people’s smartphones.

Looking at the results from 2,439 people all over the U.S., the UConn researchers found that spiritual awareness is usually highest in the morning. This was measured as a self-reported awareness of either God, a higher power, or a larger ideal. As you might expect, participants reported high levels of spiritual awareness when they were praying, attending a worship service or meditating, but they also reported feeling that way when listening to music, reading or exercising. Spirituality felt lowest when people were slogging along performing work-related activities or distracted by playing video games. Those who worked the most experienced the lowest spiritual awareness. Watching the news also lowered spiritual awareness, though people who watched the news had higher spiritual awareness overall than people who never watched the news at all.

“What surprised us is how much people vary in awareness of God across the day and across activities,” wrote Bradley Wright, an 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.”

Want to explore your own spirituality via a two-week smartphone survey? Visit SoulPulse.org to participate in the study, funded by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation, and you will receive two daily surveys. At the end of your two weeks, you’ll receive an interactive report that shares insights into your daily spiritual awareness.

Kathryn Drury Wagner is a writer and editor based in Los Angeles. Her latest book is Hawaii’s Strangest, Ickiest, Wildest Book Ever!


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