Spiritual practices that appeal to Australians

Nature, music, prayer and meditation are Australians' preferred spiritual practices.

In the 2020 Australian Community Survey, we asked Australians what their preferred style of spiritual activity is in general, whether they participate in them or not.

Results show preference for nature and the outdoors; for music that lifts one's spirits; and for prayer, meditation and mindfulness practices. 

In 2020, nearly seven in 10 Australians say that spirituality is important in their personal wellbeing, in the context of crises such as bushfires and COVID-19.    

Nature, music, prayer and meditation are preferred spiritual practices

According to the 2020 ACS, over half of Australians (57%) express preference for the spiritual practice of spending time in nature and the outdoors. Just under half (47%) prefer listening to music that moves them or lifts their spirits; and around a third (32%) nominate prayer, meditation and mindfulness practices (32%) as a preferred choice.

Lower numbers of respondents find appeal in attending religious worship services (16%) and religious or spiritual reading (13%). One in ten Australians are interested in watching or listening to religious or spiritual talks, clips or podcasts.

Decreases and increases in spiritual practices

In terms of spiritual practices actually undertaken by Australians this year, the preferred activities listed above reflect the currently occurring patterns. Spiritual practices of listening to music, spending time in nature, prayer and meditation show higher levels of usage by Australians in 2020, while church worship services and small groups show a decrease in attendance this year. 

Limitations on face to face gatherings this year may be one factor influencing a decrease in attendance at worship services and small groups. That said, many Australians are expressing preference for other styles of spiritual practice that could be wise to note, in order to remain culturally relevant when planning faith-based activities, and in order to strengthen connections with local community members.


More information on the views of Australians on the importance of spirituality for their personal wellbeing during crises such as bushfires and COVID-19, is available in the article: Did Australians draw on spiritual practices more or less during this year of crisis 2020?.

Other related articles are also available: Stressors, isolation and support amongst Australians in 2020, and Around four in ten Australians say they are open to being invited to church.

Video series on the 2020 Australian Community Survey findings

Taken from the keynote address by Dr Ruth Powell, Director of NCLS Research, at the APTO Virtual Conference, December 2020. These results are from the 2020 Australian Community Survey run by NCLS Research.

Videos include: Spiritual profile of Australians; Australians' sources of stress in 2020; Australians' view of the importance of spiritual practices; Spiritual practices 2020 vs 2019; and Are Australians open to invitations to go to church?.

Kathy Jacka, Ruth Powell
Data Sources:

Powell, R. Sterland, S. and Pepper, M. (2020). 2020 Australian Community Survey [Data file]. Sydney: NCLS Research. 

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