Spiritual Connection in Daily Life: Sixteen Little Questions That Can Make a Big Difference


How often do you find moments of deep peace and satisfaction in your day-to-day life? How often does connection with other people, the divine, or nature make you feel more alive? How often are you touched by a sense of awe-inspiring beauty, compassionate love, or pure joy? For many of us, these kinds of experiences tend to be fleeting and all too rare. Fortunately, new research is suggesting that a regular practice of paying attention to experiences like these can help any of us find them more often and ...
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How often do you find moments of deep peace and satisfaction in your day-to-day life? How often does connection with other people, the divine, or nature make you feel more alive? How often are you touched by a sense of awe-inspiring beauty, compassionate love, or pure joy? For many of us, these kinds of experiences tend to be fleeting and all too rare. Fortunately, new research is suggesting that a regular practice of paying attention to experiences like these can help any of us find them more often and cultivate richer, deeper, and more satisfying lives.
In Spiritual Connection in Daily Life, Lynn Underwood introduces her Daily Spiritual Experience Scale (DSES), which is comprised of sixteen simple, multiple-choice questions that invite us to become more attuned tothese extraordinary experiences in ordinary life. The DSES is the definitive set of questions for measuring the experience of spiritual connection and has been used in hundreds of studies, translated into over twenty languages, and used around the world by counselors, therapists, nurses, social workers, clergy from multiple faiths, and business leaders.
Spiritual Connection in Daily Life offers a step-by-step guide to using the DSES to improve our abilities to sense the “more than” in the midst of our days. Embraced by people from many different cultures, religious traditions, and professional backgrounds, the DSES doesn’t require any extraordinary experience like hearing divine voices or embarking upon a dramatic religious conversion. Nor does it belabor the exact definition of “spirituality.” Rather, it simply invites us to focus on aspects of our daily lives such as deep peace, sense of inner strength, longing, and compassionate love. The sixteen questions also provide a common, nonpolarizing language for communicating with others about the role of the “more than” in our lives.
Adherents of all faith traditions, as well as people with no religious leanings whatsoever, have experienced profound and lasting benefits from having these experiences, including improved health behaviors, better relationships, decreased stress and burnout, and improvements in daily mood. Now all of us can reap these same long-term benefits with just a little bit of self-reflection and Dr. Underwood’s expert guidance.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Drawing on a lifetime of experience, reflection, and research, Lynn Underwood invites the reader to look at daily life with new eyes, to see signs and sources of spiritual growth that might otherwise be missed. She brings her heart to this book, along with her scientific rigor, personal vulnerability, and down-to-earth wisdom. If you want to deepen your sense of the spiritual in your life, and share such experiences with others, this is the book for you.” —Parker J. Palmer, author of Healing the Heart of Democracy, A Hidden Wholeness, and Let Your Life Speak

“I think this fine book will be invaluable to an awful lot of people! Religious folks have been told what to see instead of how to see, which only calls forth a lot of inner resistance and nonseeing. There is nothing to resist here, but a lot to appreciate, enjoy, and see—for yourself. This is good!” —Richard Rohr, OFM, Center for Action and Contemplation

“Lynn Underwood has distilled her lifework into a masterpiece. Not only does her book provide the average reader (devout or agnostic alike) a guide to deepen their spirituality in a way that Catholic St. Ignatius and Buddhist Thich Nhat Han would approve: but in a very modest and low key way she provides a moving account of her own spiritual Journey, akin to Karen Armstrong’s Spiral Staircase. Every reading group and Temple and Church adult study group should have Spiritual Connection as required reading. It is a gem.” —George Valliant, MD, Professor, Harvard Medical School and Director of the Study of Adult Development, Harvard University

“Grounded in science and authentic personal experience, this book is a treasure of profound wisdom. Everyone can benefit from deepening awareness of their own spirituality by reflecting on these questions and learning how others have responded. The book is an inspiring gift of love made visible.” —Frances Vaughn, PhD, psychologist and author, Shadows of the Sacred

“This is the best book available today for anyone of us who feel the need to transform our lives. Over many years, Lynn Underwood quietly developed what is now internationally renowned as the most thoughtful and valid measure of spirituality available today. The reader will find opportunity for deepened self-awareness and spiritual growth in responding to each question, and will find that this spiritual classic and powerful self-assessment tool opens up new horizons of serenity, hope, joy, and vision. Its scientific grounding is impeccable.” —Stephen G. Post, PhD, professor of preventive medicine, Stony Brook University

“Lynn Underwood’s Spiritual Connection in Daily Life is a welcome and valuable contribution for caregivers, professionals, patients, and ordinary people. She creates a pluralistic approach rich in stories and examples from around the world, yet grounded in research. The author encourages readers to explore their experiences of love and connections to people, the universe, and God (or the holy or divine) and to use her questions as a starting point for discussion and reflection rather than a conclusion.”
Rabbi Robert Tabak, staff chaplain at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania

“I warmly recommend this practical exercise for establishing one’s personal spiritual profile— its strengths, and its, as yet, unfulfilled potential. Particularly valuable are the insights arising as to how one might progress towards an enhanced relationship with God and with other people, as well as have a greater awareness of all that life has to offer.” —Russell Stannard, emeritus professor of physics, Open University, U.K.

“Through her Daily Spiritual Experience Scale, Lynn Underwood has elegantly bridged a divide between science and spirituality in language and experiences that are accessible to all religions, faith traditions, and cultures. This book is not just for reading; it is for experiencing and savoring. It is rich food for the soul.” —The Rev. Walter J. Smith, SJ, PhD, president and CEO, HealthCare Chaplaincy

“As a scholar in the field of traumatic stress I always encourage my students to look beyond the impact of stressful events into the realm of human nature resilience. My research has shown me that Underwood’s Daily Spiritual Experience Scale is an important measurement that taps the unique experience of spirituality as it is manifested in day-to- day life. I would recommend this book to managers of stressful work places who are interested in promoting the well-being of their workers.” —Gadi Zerach, PhD, clinical psychologist, Department of Behavioral Sciences, Ariel University, Israel

“We do the mystics an injustice by putting them on a pedestal. Lynn Underwood knows that the mystic is not a special kind of human being, but every human being is a special kind of mystic. This includes you and me—ordinary people for whom this book is written. Wisely, the author uses the term mystic sparingly. She speaks rather about “experiences of connection with the divine in our lives.” If this is for you what it deserves to be, a topic of prime concern, then the Sixteen Little Questions of this workbook can indeed Make a Big Difference in your life. In fact, you may learn to be—in the midst of Daily Life—the unique mystic you are meant to be.” —Brother David Steindl-Rast, Benedictine monk, cofounder of www.gratefulness.org

“Spiritual Connection in Daily Life introduces a remarkable concept known as the “Daily Spiritual Experience Scale,” which consists of sixteen multiple-choice questions measuring among other things your daily life connections with others, divine providence, your inner spirit, and nature. This scale helps us find the “spiritual connection” in one’s daily life and one’s sense of compassion, love, joy, and inner peace. An excellent tool.” —Dr. Alwi Shihab, Islamic scholar, trustee, University of Indonesia, Jakarta, and Hartford Seminary

“Zen Buddhism may best highlight a core feature of Chinese Buddhism—an emphasis on integrating spiritual practice into daily life. In line with this belief, the Daily Spiritual Experience Scale (DSES) was appealing to us. We found all the 16 items relevant and essential in our cultural context in Hong Kong. Our findings supported the transcultural properties of the DSES and it continues to be useful to us and to others in Hong Kong.” —Dr. Siu-man Ng, Department of Social Work and Social Administration, University of Hong Kong

“Lynn Underwood has very skillfully provided for us a readable, user-friendly, and intimate approach. Far from evading the emotional, spiritual, and existential challenges involved in the search for meaning and wholeness, she has opened for us an exciting and compelling way of coping with the inescapable task of plumbing the depths, and finding the treasures, of life’s inscrutable joys.” —Kortright Davis, professor of theology, Howard University School of Divinity

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781599474274
  • Publisher: Templeton Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2013
  • Pages: 226
  • Sales rank: 272,219
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Lynn Underwood has published widely in areas such as quality of life, cancer, stress, compassionate love, and the understanding of ordinary experiences in a multicultural context. Originally trained in medicine, she holds a PhD in epidemiology, is an elected member of the Academy of Behavioral Medicine, and was awarded a Kluge Fellowship at the Library of Congress. She has directed foundation programs and developed projects with the World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health. Her consulting practice helps organizations with research, strategy and program evaluation. She also lectures and facilitates workshops.
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