Abstract: This study examined the subjective daily experiences of motherhood as potential opportunities for spiritual awareness and personal transformation. It explored how an enduring commitment to fostering a child through adoption, marriage or conception may lead mothers to embrace a broadened perspective in life that mirrors the core spiritual values of world religions and perennial wisdom traditions. A qualitative analysis of 22 interviews revealed 6 overlapping and interrelated themes: (a) unconditional love and interdependence (b) transcending ego or self-centeredness (c) compassion and empathy, (d) mindfulness and heightened awareness, (e) meaning and purpose in life (f) faith and a higher power.
Adams, W. (1996). Discovering the Sacred in Everyday Life: An Empirical Phenomenological Study. The Humanistic Psychologist, 24, 28-54. Arendell, T. (2000). Conceiving and Investigating Motherhood: The Decade's Scholarship. The Journal of Marriage and Family, 62(4), 1192-1207. Athan, A., & Miller, L. (2005). Spiritual awakening through the motherhood journey. Journal of the Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement, 7(1), 17-31. Baker, J. P. (1992). The shamanic dimensions of childbirth. Pre- & Peri-Natal Psychology Journal, 7(1), 5-21. Clarke, V. (2002). Sameness and Difference in Research on Lesbian Parenting. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 12, 210-222. Colman, A. D. (1969). Psychological state during first pregnancy. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 39(5) Oct 1969, 788-797. Colman, A. D., & Coleman, L. L. (1975). Pregnancy as an altered state of consciousness. Birth and the Family Journal, 1, 7-11. Coward, H. (1989). Jung's conception of the role of religion in psychological transformation. Humanistic Psychologist, 17(3), 265-273. Daschke, D. M. (1993). Individuation and the psychology of the mystic union. Journal of Psychology & Christianity, 12(3), 245-252. DeHoff, S. L. (1998). In search of a paradigm for psychological and spiritual growth: Implications for psychotherapy and spiritual direction. Pastoral Psychology, 46(5), 333-346. Dyson, J., Cobb, Mark, Forman, Dawn. (1997). The meaning of spirituality: a literature review. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 26, 1183-1188. Emmons, R. A. (2000). Is spirituality an intelligence? Motivation, cognition, and the psychology of ultimate concern. International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 10(1), 3-26. Emmons, R. A. (2003). Spiritual Striving and the Unification of personality. Streams of William James, 5(1), 21-24. Epple, D. M. (2003). Encounter with soul. Clinical Social Work Journal, 31(2), 173-188. Gilligan, C., & Gilligan, C. (1982). In a different voice: Psychological theory and women's development (Vol. 326). Boston: Harvard University Press. Goddard, N. (1995). Spirituality as integrative energy: a philosophical precursor to holistic nursing practice. Journal of Advanced Nursing. Bailey, L. (1999). Refracted selves? A study of changes in self-identity in the transition to motherhood. Sociology, 33(2), 335-352. Balin, J. (1988). The sacred dimensions of pregnancy and birth. Qualitative Sociology, 11(4), 275-301. Cartwright, K. B. (2001). Cognitive developmental theory and spiritual development. Journal of Adult Development, 8(4), 213-220. Carver, N., & Ward, B. (2007). Spirituality in pregnancy: a diversity of experiences and needs. British Journal of Midwifery, 15(5), 294-296. Gall, T. L., Charbonneau, C., Clarke, N. H., Grant, K., Joseph, A., & Shouldice, L. (2005). Understanding the Nature and Role of Spirituality in Relation to Coping and Health: A Conceptual Framework. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie Canadienne, 46(2), 88. Gilligan, C. (1984). The conquistador and the dark continent: Reflections on the psychology of love. Daedalus, 113(3), 75-95. Gordon, C. (2002). Women’s stories: Spiritual journeys to her self. Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities & Social Sciences, 62. Athan and Miller 251 Gringeri, C. (2005). Naming Our Work. Affilia, 20(4), 397-400. . Hamel, S., Leclerc, G., & Lefrancois, R. (2003). A psychological outlook on the concept of transcendent actualization. The international journal for the psychology of religion, 13(1), 3-15. Hamilton, D. M., & Jackson, M. H. (1998). Spiritual Development: Paths and Processes. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 25(4), 262-270. Hart, T. (2000). Inspiration as transpersonal knowing. In Hart, T., Nelson, P. L., & Puhakka, K. (Eds.), Transpersonal knowing: Exploring the horizon of consciousness (pp. 31-35). NY: SUNY Press. Hill, P. C., & Pargament, K. I. (2003). Advances in the Conceptualization and Measurement of Religion and Spirituality: Implications for Physical and Mental Health Research. American Psychologist, 58(1), 64-74. Hill, P. C., Pargament, K. I., Hood, R. W., Jr., McCullough, M. E., Swyers, J. P., Larson, D. B., et al. (2000). Conceptualizing religion and spirituality: Points of commonality, points of departure. Journal for the Theory of-‐ Social Behaviour, 30(1), 51-77. Kendler, K. S., Gardner, C. O., & Prescott, C. A. (1997). Religion, psychopathology, and substance use and abuse: A multimeasure, genetic-epidemiologic study. American Journal of Psychiatry, 154(3), 322-329. Koenig, H. G. (2001). Religion and medicine IV: Religion, physical health, and clinical implications. International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine, 31(3), 321-336. Koenig, H. G., McCullough, M. E., & Larson, D. B. (2001). Handbook of religion and health. London: Oxford University Press. LaPierre, L. (1994). A model for describing spirituality. Journal of religion and health, 33, 153-161. Lines, D. (2002). Counseling within a new spiritual paradigm. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 42(3), 102-123. Linthorst, A. (1993). Mothering as a spiritual journey: learning to let God nurture your children and you along with them. New York: Crossroad. Luthar, S. S., Doyle, K., Suchman, N. E., & Mayes, L. (2001). Developmental themes in women's emotional experiences of motherhood. Development & Psychopathology, 13(1), 165-182. Madaras, E. I. (1999). Journeys inward: Portraits of three women's growth through the entry into motherhood. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: the Sciences & Engineering. Vol 60(6-B), Jan 1999, 3002, US: Univ Microfilms International. Mahoney, A., & Pargament, K. I. (2004). Sacred Changes: Spiritual Conversion and Transformation. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 60(5), 481-492. Matsu-Pissot, C. (1998). On the experience of being unconditionally loved. Phenomenological inquiry in psychology: existential and transpersonal dimensions, 321-334. Hall, J., & Taylor, M. (2004). Birth and spirituality. and debate, 41-56. Hall, J. (2006). Spirituality at the beginning of life. nursing,15(7), 804-810 Normal childbirth: Evidence Journal of clinical Jesse, D. E., & Reed, P. G. (2004). Effects of Spirituality and Psychosocial Well Being on Health Risk Behaviors in Appalachian Pregnant Women. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing, 33(6), 739-747. Jesse, D. E. (2007). The effect of faith or spirituality in pregnancy: A content analysis. Journal of Holistic Nursing, 25(75), 1-8. 252 Journal of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health Mauger, B. (2000). Reclaiming the spirituality of birth: Healing for mothers and babies. Healing Arts Press: Vermont. Mauger, B. (1996). Childbirth as initiation and transformation: The wounded mother. Pre- & Peri-Natal Psychology Journal, 11(1), 17-31. McNeill, J. (1998). Psychotherapy and the Spiritual Journey. Journal of religion and health, 37(4), 333-344. McSherry, W., & Cash, K. (2004). The language of spirituality: An emerging taxonomy. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 41(2), 151-161. McSherry, W., Cash, K., & Ross, L. (2004). Meaning of spirituality: implications for nursing practice. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 13(8), 934. Miller, L., Davies, M., & Greenwald, S. (2000). Religiosity and substance use and abuse among adolescents in the National Comorbidity Survey. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 39(9), 1190- 1197. Miller, W. R., & Thoresen, C. E. (2003). Spirituality, religion, and health: An emerging research field. American Psychologist, 58(1), 24-35. Oberman, Y., & Josselson, R. (1996). Matrix of tensions: A model of mothering. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 20(3), 341-359. Powell, L. H., Shahabi, L., & Thoresen, C. E. (2003). Religion and Spirituality: Linkages to Physical Health. American Psychologist, 58(1), 36-52. Ray, R. E., & McFadden, S. H. (2001). The Web and the Quilt: Alternatives to the Heroic Journey Toward Spiritual Development. Journal of Adult Development, 8(4), 201-221. Regnerus, M., Smith, C., & Fritsch, M. (2003). Religion in the Lives of American Adolescents: A review of the literature. Chapel Hill, NC: Odum Institute for Social Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Reimann, R. (1997). Does Biology Matter?: Lesbian Couples' Transition to parenthood and their division of labor. Qualitative Sociology, 20(2), 153- 185. Robinson, E. (1985). The experience of transfiguration. Religious Education, 80(2), 246-254. Rose, S. (2001). Is the term "Spirituality" a word that everyone uses, but nobody knows what anyone means by it? Journal of Contemporary Religion, 16(2), 193-207. McMahon, M. (1995). Engendering motherhood: Identity and self-transformation in women's lives. Guilford Press. Miller, L., & Kelley, B. S. (2005). Relationships of religiosity and spirituality with mental health and psychopathology. Handbook of the psychology of religion and spirituality, 460-478. Miller, L. (2006). Spirituality, health and medical care of children and adolescents. Southern medical journal, 99(10), 1164-1165. Moloney, S. (2006). The spirituality of childbirth. Birth Issues, 15, 41-46. Moloney, S. (2007). Dancing with the wind: A methodological approach to researching women’s spirituality around menstruation and birth. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 6(1), 114-125. Neill, J. (2002). Transcendence and transformation in the life patterns of women living with rheumatoid arthritis. Advances in Nursing Science, 24(4), 27- 47. Papathanassoglou, E. D., & Patiraki, E. I. (2003). Transformations of self: a phenomenological investigation into the lived experience of survivors of critical illness. Nursing in Critical Care, 8(1), 13-21. Ruddick, S. (1980). Maternal thinking. Feminist studies, 6(2), 342-367. Athan and Miller 253 Ruddick, S. (1983). Thinking about Mothering: and Putting Maternal Thinking to Use. Women's Studies Quarterly, 4-7. Ruddick, S. (1995). Maternal thinking: toward a politics of peace. Boston: Beacon Press. Spivak, L., Spivak, D., & Wistrand, K. (1993). New psychic phenomena related to normal childbirth. The European journal of psychiatry. Vol 7(4), Oct-Dec 1993, 239-243. Spivak, D., Spivak, L., & Wistrand, K. (1994). Altered psychic states in physiological delivery: Definition of the problem. Human Physiology, 20(4), 314-318. Spivak, L. I., Bechtereva, N. P., Spivak, D. L., Danko, S. G., & Wistrand, K. R. (1998). Gender specific altered states of consciousness. International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, 17(2), 181-185. Tanyi, R. A. (2003). Towards clarification of the meaning of spirituality. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 39(5), 500. Thurer, S. (1994). The myths of motherhood: How culture reinvents the good mother (p. 381). Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Trad, P. V. (1990). On becoming a mother: In the throes of developmental transformation. Psychoanalytic psychology, 7(3), 341-361. Vaughan, F. (2002). What is Spiritual Intelligence? Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 42(2), 16-33. Vaughn, B. J. (1983). Ecstatic components of childbirth: A psychological and phenomenological investigation. Birth Psychology Bulletin, 4(2), 33. Vieten, C., Amorok, T., & Schlitz, M. M. (2006). I to we: The role of consciousness transformation in compassion and altruism. Zygon®, 41(4), 915-932. Weaver, J., & Ussher, J. (1997). How motherhood changes life--A discourse analytic study with mothers of young children. Journal of Reproductive & Infant Psychology, 15(1), 51-68. Wink, P., & Dillon, M. (2002). Spiritual development across the adult life course: Findings from a longitudinal study. Journal of Adult Development, 9(1), 79-94. Seeman, T. E., Dubin, L. F., & Seeman, M. (2003). Religiosity/spirituality and health: A critical review of the evidence for biological pathways. American Psychologist, 58(1), 53. Semenic, S. E., Callister, L. C., & Feldman, P. (2004). Giving birth: The voices of Orthodox Jewish women living in Canada. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing, 33(1), 80-87. Smith, J. A. (1999). Towards a relational self: Social engagement during pregnancy and psychological preparation for motherhood. British Journal of Social Psychology, 38(4), 409-426. Smith, J. A. (1999). Identity development during the transition to motherhood: An interpretative phenomenological analysis. Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology, 17(3), 281-299. Thomas, T. (2001). Becoming a mother: matrescence as spiritual formation. Religious Education, 96(1), 88-105. Wong, Y. J., Rew, L., & Slaikeu, K. D. (2006). A systematic review of recent research on adolescent religiosity/spirituality and mental health. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 27(2), 161-183.