Title

Spiritus: Breathing new life into the search for spirituality in occupation

Start Time

21-10-2011 12:25 PM

End Time

21-10-2011 12:55 PM

Session Type

Event

Abstract

When spirituality was inserted into the Canadian Model of Occupational Performance (1997), there was much writing both in support and critique about its central presence in the visual and theoretical construction of occupation. While that debate continues, the dialogue through scholarly publication has grown quiet. Spirituality is no longer as widely and openly discussed in the occupational literature, either in its clinical relevance or in relation to occupational meaning, engagement, or experience. It would be premature and likely inaccurate to assume that the minimal presence in the occupational science literature reflects a lack of interest, however. This theoretical paper contributes to the discourse of spirituality by proposing that humans are spiritual beings in addition to social, occupational, and narrative beings. The general lack of consensus and operationalized definition of spirituality compromises this facet of humanity from being fully embraced in scientific and clinical domains. At the root of the word spirituality is spirit which derives from the Latin ‘spiritus.’ Translated this word means ‘breath,’ a universal and essential element of life. An informal survey using convenience sampling was conducted to ascertain how adults conceive of the term spirituality and practically engage with it in daily life. Two questions were posed: what activities do you participate in which connect you with your spirit (however you define this); and what does spirituality mean to you, identifying whether it is a concept of significance or not. The survey deliberately did not provide a definition of spirit or spirituality, rather invited the respondents to reflect upon how this aspect of themselves and their life is represented. The responses embody the diversity of definitions found in the literature and also support the claim that the spirit and the engagement with it through occupation, is fundamental to what respondents understand as their daily life experience. These findings are contrasted to the spiritual understanding of people with eating disorders, a population for whom spirituality can be subsumed into the illness experience. Durkheim claimed that we often use the same words without referencing them to the same meaning. This paper translates this claim to the concept of spirituality, with the caveat that the individual’s connection to their own definition provides more meaning than striving to achieve an academically derived definition.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Recognizing that simply changing the word will not solve the inherent challenges, how can the idea of spirituality be more user friendly in research and in daily life?
  2. In the current era of people identifying more as ‘spiritual but not religious,’ what accounts for the continued caution in exploring relationships between spirit and occupation?
  3. Reflexivity in research – how would you answer the survey questions? What activities do you participate in which connect you with your spirit (however you define this); and what does spirituality mean to you, identifying whether it is a concept of significance or not?

References

Townsend, E.A. & Polatajko, H. J. (2007). Enabling Occupation II: Advancing an Occupational Therapy Vision for Health, Well-being & Justice through Occupation. Ottawa, ON: CAOT ACE

McColl, M. (2000). Muriel Driver Memorial Lecture: Spirit, occupation, and disability. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 67(4), 217-228.

Wilson, L. (2010). Spirituality, occupation and occupational therapy revisited: Ongoing consideration of the issues for occupational therapists. British Journal of Occupational Therapists, 73(9), 437-440. http://dx.doi.org/10.4276/030802210X12839367526219

Comments

Theoretical paper

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
Oct 21st, 12:25 PM Oct 21st, 12:55 PM

Spiritus: Breathing new life into the search for spirituality in occupation

When spirituality was inserted into the Canadian Model of Occupational Performance (1997), there was much writing both in support and critique about its central presence in the visual and theoretical construction of occupation. While that debate continues, the dialogue through scholarly publication has grown quiet. Spirituality is no longer as widely and openly discussed in the occupational literature, either in its clinical relevance or in relation to occupational meaning, engagement, or experience. It would be premature and likely inaccurate to assume that the minimal presence in the occupational science literature reflects a lack of interest, however. This theoretical paper contributes to the discourse of spirituality by proposing that humans are spiritual beings in addition to social, occupational, and narrative beings. The general lack of consensus and operationalized definition of spirituality compromises this facet of humanity from being fully embraced in scientific and clinical domains. At the root of the word spirituality is spirit which derives from the Latin ‘spiritus.’ Translated this word means ‘breath,’ a universal and essential element of life. An informal survey using convenience sampling was conducted to ascertain how adults conceive of the term spirituality and practically engage with it in daily life. Two questions were posed: what activities do you participate in which connect you with your spirit (however you define this); and what does spirituality mean to you, identifying whether it is a concept of significance or not. The survey deliberately did not provide a definition of spirit or spirituality, rather invited the respondents to reflect upon how this aspect of themselves and their life is represented. The responses embody the diversity of definitions found in the literature and also support the claim that the spirit and the engagement with it through occupation, is fundamental to what respondents understand as their daily life experience. These findings are contrasted to the spiritual understanding of people with eating disorders, a population for whom spirituality can be subsumed into the illness experience. Durkheim claimed that we often use the same words without referencing them to the same meaning. This paper translates this claim to the concept of spirituality, with the caveat that the individual’s connection to their own definition provides more meaning than striving to achieve an academically derived definition.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Recognizing that simply changing the word will not solve the inherent challenges, how can the idea of spirituality be more user friendly in research and in daily life?
  2. In the current era of people identifying more as ‘spiritual but not religious,’ what accounts for the continued caution in exploring relationships between spirit and occupation?
  3. Reflexivity in research – how would you answer the survey questions? What activities do you participate in which connect you with your spirit (however you define this); and what does spirituality mean to you, identifying whether it is a concept of significance or not?