November 30, 2023

What is transcendence?

Spiritual health includes experiencing transcendence.

We have all been caught up in moments that seem to stop time – moments that ground us in the very present and beckon us to take in something beautiful that is uniquely observable. It often happens without our full recognition, but if you think back to the time you last felt joy, gratitude, or deeply connected and loved, these have been the types of moments that have invigorated you physically, emotionally, and spiritually with fresh hope and purpose for your life. 

In the world of psychology, we call this experience “transcendence.” And although these transcendent moments do happen with or without intentional pursuit, creating opportunities to experience more transcendence can improve the quality of our lives by deepening our connection to our spirituality and to something greater than ourselves. Too often, our religious practices focus on getting to church or synagogue and going through the motions, and we miss opportunities to be present and witness the deeper connections we have to each other and to our ultimate source of love.   

Transcendent experiences come in many shapes and sizes. They often occur when in nature—we behold the beauty and wonder of the natural world and often feel connected to the Creator. We can experience transcendence in the small things, like when we gaze down at the sweet face of our child, or while listening to a particular piece of music or looking at a great work of art. We can experience transcendence in the silence of the early morning hours or kneeling in church in prayer. If you need a little boost, try reaching out to someone in need. It’s the ultimate beyond-the-self encounter.

These experiences have the power to change us and reorder our thinking. Many of us can look back at our teenage years and recollect a moment where we felt connected to all people and things. Perhaps this happened at a church camp or a Kairos retreat. These moments can fortify us for difficulty, and they can motivate us into purposeful endeavors.

Thrive Center


Continue Exploring


Transcendence (Part 1): The Beauty of Transcendence and How it Informs our Spirituality


Transcendence (Part 2): How Transcendence Can Lead the Way to an Open Heart


The Power of Transcendence and Spirituality in a Modern World

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