According to a recent study, Denmark is experiencing a surge in spiritual practices, with as many as 81.9% of Danes feeling a “spiritual need” in the past month. The study, which is the largest

of its kind to date, involved 26,678 participants of all ages. The researchers behind the study emphasize the link between spiritual beliefs and physical health, promoting a holistic understanding of healthcare.

The study highlights Denmark’s curious relationship with secularity. While traditionally secular and non-secular spheres are constantly mixed at macro and micro levels, spirituality is important and present in the society and in Danes, and religion and spirituality have not declined as expected with the increase of ‘knowledge’. The researchers consider Denmark a ‘post-secular’ culture.

However, speaking about spiritual matters is still considered taboo in Denmark, with faith and belief being societal taboos, second only to mental health disorders in magnitude. Spirituality is very much present and growing in the population, but it is practiced and dealt with privately.

Despite 75% of Danes being still paying members of the Evangelical-Lutheran church, just one Dane in 50 actually goes to church. Church membership is more a marker of national identity than spirituality. Instead of traditional Christianity, New Age movements have crept into Danish spiritual life, with Buddhism being alive and well, and the Aesir faith, which has brought back the old Norse pantheon, making a resurgence.

The data reflected that “religious needs” are fairly unimportant for participants, while “existential needs” - defined as a need to reflect on life, death, and consciousness - were significantly higher. The most deeply-felt spiritual need for Danes was an “inner peace need”. Women were more likely than men to have spiritual needs, as were divorcees and those who find themselves in a “crisis of meaning”.

The study’s findings indicate that religion is not necessarily needed for spiritual fulfillment. Denmark’s spiritual practices show that individuals are seeking a deeper meaning in their lives and are turning towards alternative practices to achieve it. The vocabularies of mindfulness, yoga, and tantric practices - chakras and whatnot - have made their way into the common parlance. The researchers aim to promote a holistic understanding of healthcare that takes into account the link between spiritual beliefs and physical health.

In conclusion, Denmark's relationship with spirituality is changing, with a growing number of Danes experiencing spiritual needs, despite the societal taboos surrounding the topic. While traditional Christianity is declining, new age movements, such as Buddhism and the Aesir faith, are making a resurgence. The study highlights the need to promote a holistic understanding of healthcare that includes spirituality as a crucial aspect of physical and mental wellbeing. Photo by Rüdiger Wölk, Wikimedia commons.