|dc.description.abstract||This thesis explores the existential meaning of religion for mankind. Connectedness is listed as one of the translations of the Latin word 'religare'. Religion was for long time the main and existential provider of peoples' need to connect to transcendental entities, but no longer fulfills this requirement exclusively.
The last centuries show breakingpoints which are the causes for the fact that many people in western society leave church and religion. Although a growing group of people no longer see themselves as religious, there is research which shows that religion is not disappearing but actually being transformed. It turns out that people fulfill their need for connectedness in present times in different ways. Generally we can say that people connect to any source outside, apart from themselves. This can be a transcendent source such as God, or a source closer related to humans such as the 'higher self' or 'the essence'. In addition to this, people connect to what is meaningful for them. Through this connection, in whatever form, people experience wholeness and meaning in their life.
To understand the need of feeling whole, which is the result of experiencing meaning through connectedness, we show how the functionality of the right and left brain hemispheres contribute to this experience. To illustrate we give examples of activities which spiritual caregivers could offer to their clients. Activities such as meditation, listening to music, drawing and biodanza, stimulate the right brain hemisphere which provides this experience of wholeness. In this way spiritual caregivers can use the knowledge of neuroscience to be aware of which activities people in modern times might need. In view of this transformation in the religious field, the necessity arises for spiritual caregivers to adapt their forms of activities to meet the changing requirements.
The second part of the thesis shows the result of quantitative and qualitative research in the psychiatric institution 'Emergis' in Goes, the Netherlands. This research belongs to a broader research in the Netherlands and Belgium in health care institutions. We conducted questionnaires and interviews among psychiatric patients. Our research shows some significant results: Clients did experience spirituality in the five dimensions of their lives, that we researched: social, moral, experiential, cognitive and coping.
People gave a higher score to positive aspects of spirituality, such as meaningful experiences or connections with one another; the lower score was given to negative aspects, such as contemplating death.
Clients experience spirituality in different ways and forms compared to the traditional worship in church or prayer.
During the interviews, when asked the question: 'what gives your life significance', clients required first an example – the Christian belief – to grasp the broader field suggested by the question. Answers given were, among others: positivity, belief in angels, contact with peers etcetera.
Although additional research is required, we can assume on basis of the results of this thesis, that the form in which people in western society experience connectedness and wholeness, is not exclusively traditional religion as in the past. New and various forms are emerging in the lives of people.
It is apparent for spiritual caregivers that, in order to offer their expertise in the future, they will need to transform their thinking about religion and connectedness, as well as adapt what they offer, to meet the needs of clients today in western multicultural society.||