Spirituality as an Atheist

How do you define spirituality? It feels like a very vague term that can encompass a lot. 

I facilitate support groups at work and for an upcoming project, we are going to make self-care plans. Of course, I’m going to bring paint and markers and stickers so we can make them all pretty. 🙂 

Our self-care plans are going to have four categories: Physical, Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual. I felt that it was important to add the “spiritual” category because, for many of our participants, spirituality plays a very significant role in their lives.

For all of our groups, I create examples of our projects to show the participants. Here’s what I put for my Spirituality category for my self-care plan:

Spend more time in nature.


Look at the stars.

Many of our participants are religious, so I am happy to share some secular examples.

Naturally, this made me think more about spirituality and what it means to me, and one thing that really came to mind is connecting with other people. I am not a people person by any means but when we have an art group or drum circle at work, I feel this strong sense of community, like I’m a small part of a whole. It’s hard to find a word to describe the atmosphere. It’s such a positive environment and I wish I could exist in that space all the time. I get a rush from facilitating groups and feel a sort of high when we finish. 

I love my job. 

It’s hard for me to define spirituality when I don’t have a religious go-to, but the magic of creating art and music with people at work feels spiritual.

How do you define spirituality as an atheist? Is it an important part of your life? What feels spiritual to you?

Just in case you’re curious, here’s the rest of my self-care plan:


Take meds



Go to work



Intuitive eating

Go for walks

Play with my daughter

Drink water




Create art

Bubble baths

Be kind to myself and others


  1. says

    No, philosophy is not the same as what people tend to call “spirituality.” There’s lots of overlap, of course, but they’re not the same thing. One’s philosophy can seriously change one’s experience of one’s world, including spiritual experiences, but philosophy also affects things in the mental, physical and emotional categories.

  2. John Morales says

    I think each of the items you have categorised as ‘spiritual’ is better categorised under either ‘mental’ or ’emotional’. Or both 😉

    But, as you wrote, spirituality is important to many people, so including it as a category should help appease their yearning for it. A little white lie.

    For myself, I don’t do spirituality — just seems pointless at best, and silly or even perverse the rest of the time.

    I concur with your claim that it’s a very vague term that can encompass a lot, but in the context of religion or atheism it clearly refers to a dualistic worldview — the belief that the supernatural exists and interacts with the non-supernatural more generally, and the belief that things have spirits that more specifically.

    cf. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genius_loci

    • Lydia Kitchen says

      I believe in the Universe. Everything happens for a reason. I’m not religious, but I believe in energy, possibly reincarnation. Not really sure what spirituality would be for an atheist.

  3. StonedRanger says

    No idea what it means to be spiritual. Ive never heard two people with the same definition of the word. I have no use for it.

  4. dangerousbeans says

    IMO, spirituality is mostly BS. I usually just ignore it whenever people start talking about it.
    Personally i would redo your categories into physical, intellectual, and resting. I would put your stars but into intellectual and meditation into resting. I would also have mental health meds in physical.

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