Spirituality can mean different things to different people. For some, it's primarily about participation in organized religion. For others, it's a non-religious experience that involves getting in touch with their spiritual selves through private prayer, yoga, meditation, quiet reflection, or time in nature.
An instinct toward spirituality appears to be deeply ingrained in humans. People can't help but ask big questions—research shows that even declared skeptics can't stifle a sense that there is something greater than the physical world they see.
As the brain processes sensory experiences, it naturally looks for patterns—and people's conscious selves often seek meaning in those patterns. This can lead to the phenomenon known as "cognitive dissonance," which describes how, once one believes in something, one is strongly inclined to try to explain away anything that conflicts with it. Cognitive dissonance is not unique to religion or spirituality, but often occurs in the context of such beliefs.