Many of us have been searching for meaning during the pandemic. We’ve been asking ourselves questions such as: What are my priorities? What do I want out of my life? How can I live with all the uncertainty?
To answer these questions, people often turn to spirituality. And a body of scientific research suggests that spiritual thinking provides some concrete benefits to our mental well-being and outlook.
Lisa Miller is a clinical psychologist and director of the Spirituality Mind Body Institute at Teachers College, Columbia University, a graduate program and research center, where she studies the intersection of spirituality and mental wellness.
She teaches clinical psychology and has worked with corporations, schools, faith-based organizations, homeless shelters and the U.S. military to help individuals use spirituality to improve their mental health. Her new book is “The Awakened Brain: The New Science of Spirituality and Our Quest for an Inspired Life.”
Dr. Miller conducts brain scans of people as they’re thinking spiritual thoughts and analyzes large mental-health studies. Her research has found that spirituality helps protect us from depression and helps us become more resilient and make better decisions. Studies also show that these benefits typically occur regardless of what religion we are—or whether we’re religious at all.