The varieties of religious experience

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Whether it be a thoughtful walk with the sun dappling through the trees onto your skin, enjoying a piece of artwork in your local gallery, dancing at a festival, singing in a choir, or dedicating an hour a day to the withdrawal of the senses in mindful meditation, contemplative and reflective practices conjure up a plethora of possibilities and a multitude of meanings. There is a certain ineffable ‘truth’ in the ‘beauty’ of these experiences. From life’s bigger questions, such as “how did the world begin?”, to being swept away by a blissful melody or beautiful landscape, these experiences have the power to move us beyond rational knowledge and take us to a place of feeling. It is a deep and powerful place, yet not one necessarily visible to others or expressible through words.

But how do we and why should we attend to these more ineffable experiences of life? In research and everyday practice, how do we recognise the magic in the mundane?