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Spirituality and Wellbeing

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Interest in spirituality and wellbeing is rising. However, research in that area is still lacking, in particular from a non-medical perspective. This book shows how the relationship between wellbeing and spirituality is studied by a range of disciplines including religious studies, theology, anthropology, psychology and history. The introduction discusses the term ‘wellbeing’ and introduces the debate on spirituality and wellbeing. The editors give a broad definition of spirituality and show the multifaceted nature of wellbeing and how it is linked to spirituality. Each chapter then reflects on the topic in its unique way which shows the interdisciplinary nature of the subject.

The authors represent a rich breadth of disciplines and bring in a range of perspectives. The chapters also link the debate to various religious traditions including Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Afro-Brazilian religion and even paranormal experiences that will further the reflection on the link between spirituality and wellbeing.

Published: Mar 15, 2020

Section Chapter Authors
Acknowledgements Bettina Schmidt, Jeff Leonardi
List of Figures Bettina Schmidt, Jeff Leonardi
Introduction Jeff Leonardi, Bettina Schmidt
Section One: Setting the Scene
1. Spirituality and Wellbeing: Is there a Necessary Link? Toward a Critical Approach to the Study of Spirituality Everton de Oliveira Maraldi
2. Clinical Parapsychology: The Interface Between Anomalous Experiences and Psychological Wellbeing Chris Roe
Section Two: The Body in Focus
3. Made in the Image: The Christian Understanding of the Body Jeff Leonardi
4. Spirituality and Wellbeing in Traditional China: Food, Self-Sacrifice, and Spiritual Practice in a Chinese Buddhist Legend Thomas Jansen
5. ‘Spiritus Contra Spiritum’: Spirituality, Belief and Discipline in Alcoholics Anonymous Wendy Dossett
Section Three: The Diversity of Perspectives
6. Narratives of Spirituality and Wellbeing: Cultural Differences and Similarities between Brazil and the UK Bettina Schmidt
7. Using Autoethnography to Explore the Experience of Spirituality in Epilepsy Louise Spiers
8. To Thine Own Self be True: Alcoholics Anonymous, Recovery and Care of the Self Lymarie Rodriguez
Section Four: Applied Practice
9. Religiosity, Spirituality and Wellbeing in the Perception of Brazilian Health and Mental Health Professionals Marta Helena de Freitas
10. Compassionate Presence: Buddhist Practice and the Person-Centred Approach to Counselling and Psychotherapy Rebecca Seale
End Matter
Index Bettina Schmidt, Jeff Leonardi


This book is an excellent contribution to debates surrounding spirituality, religion and wellbeing, and would be a brilliant resource for both those studying these topics and those generally interested in this field. The book is accessible, rich, diverse and interesting, with chapters filled with questions, and with ideas which challenge traditional Western narratives about the location and nature of the religious, paranormal and spiritual in wellbeing and healthcare.
William Temple Foundation

This book answers Sir Alister Hardy’s call for an interdisciplinary approach to religious experience, building on some of the topics covered by previous RERC occasional papers, and taking the important step from academic studies into applied practice. I found this book a refreshing blend of progressive empirically-based research that, at the same time, permits a welcome return to the more philosophical work of Carl Jung and William James. Maraldi identifies a shortcoming of much modern research on spirituality and wellbeing, “The fact is that the ethical and philosophical implications of research on spirituality are rarely or poorly addressed,” (P. 36). This volume, addressing as it does both empirically-based applied practice and deeper philosophical considerations seems to me to be an ethical and necessary step forward, to address this shortcoming.
De Numine

The interdisciplinary approach of this volume makes it inspiring and encouraging for researchers on the path of analyzing spiritual experiences. It is also of primary interest to medical practitioners willing to question the role of spirituality in therapy and patients’ wellbeing.
Journal of Religion in Europe

This valuable interdisciplinary volume is a significant contribution to the study of religious experience and health, especially given rising interest in both spirituality and well-being and their overlap.
Paradigm Explorer

Bettina Schmidt and Jeff Leonardi have fashioned an insightful collection that brings together a rich variety of approaches to the field of spirituality and wellbeing, including perspectives from psychology, healthcare, religious studies, and Chinese studies. This volume provides an excellent examination of meditation, mental mediumship, ascetical teachings in Christianity and Chinese Buddhism, Alcoholics Anonymous, the experience of spirituality in epilepsy, spirituality in healthcare settings, and Buddhist practices in psychotherapy, with deep insights into the significance of spirituality for wellbeing.
This timely contribution to the scholarship on spirituality and health makes the book a ‘must read’ for a broad readership of scholars and students interested in religion and spirituality as well as for healthcare professionals.
Journal of Contemporary Religion

The tension between secular models of health and healthcare on the one hand, and the lived spirituality of adherents (as well as researchers of religion) on the other, runs throughout this excellent and ground-breaking volume.
Religious Studies Review

The chapters, written by a variety of academics, are eclectic and offer a fascinating, international perspective on spirituality and wellness.

This volume provides an important and opportune contribution to the academic literature, which will hopefully, in time, filter into clinical practice. Spirituality and Wellbeing is recommended to anyone with an interest in spirituality and wellbeing; both academics and healthcare practitioners should find something of value in this book.
Journal for the Academic Study of Religion

This is a very worthwhile collection that not only contains a breadth of material understood from a variety of viewpoints, but also offers many sharp insights to the student of spirituality as well as to psychologists and members of the healing professions.
Rural Theology