Unlocking Spiritual Intelligence: Your Step-by-Step Guide

8 minutes read -
Irina Yugay
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Man with spiritual intelligence looking up at the sky
Table of Contents
Summary: What is spiritual intelligence, and why is it important? Discover the step-by-step guide to enhancing your life for success and happiness.
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Do you ever feel like there’s something more to your human experience—that you’re meant for something greater, or that you are something greater?

This feeling is more than just a feeling. It’s your spiritual intelligence speaking.

The fact of the matter is, you have the ability to transform your life into something truly magical, beyond what you can imagine. And it all starts when you embrace your spiritual intelligence and cultivate it.

What is Spiritual Intelligence?

The “spiritual intelligence” definition is the ability to comprehend deeper meanings, values, everlasting purposes, and unconscious elements of yourself. Most importantly, it’s the ability to embody them in your daily life.

In this context, “spiritual” means the fundamental nature of existence, the essence of life itself. It’s a universal aspect of being human—being spiritual, or being in the spirit. 

And “intelligence” is your ability to express empathy, compassion, intuition, and see beyond the surface level of things.

Jeffrey Allen, spiritual teacher and trainer of Mindvalley’s Duality Quest, explains that spirituality doesn’t replace your physical awareness but augments it. He adds, “You can ascend when your spirit is integrated into your body.”

So the more integrated your spirit, the higher your spiritual intelligence.

Why Is It Important?

Imagine this: when you have spiritual intelligence, you are able to communicate with people around you, and it’s from a place of knowing that we are all interconnected and carry the same divine essence. You are able to be more present with them and inclusive of their opinions and perspectives. 

As spiritual leader and trainer of Mindvalley’s A Journey to Infinitheism Quest Mahatria puts it, “You recognize there’s no other, and you recognize divinity in others.”

So not only is spiritual intelligence important for personal fulfillment, but it can also change the world for the better.

Most importantly, you know that the universe is benevolent and abundant; it’s the infinite source of love and wisdom, and you have access to it from within. So your spiritual intelligence enables you to take ownership of your life and create whatever your soul desires.

The more you see the world as a natural extension of yourself, the more good you will do in the world.

— Mahatria, trainer of Mindvalley’s A Journey to Infinitheism Quest

The Different Types of Intelligence

Intelligence differs, and there are many types you can develop, from analytical to existential.

Multiple theories emphasize these three:

  • Cognitive intelligence (IQ): what you think
  • Emotional intelligence (EQ): what you feel 
  • Spiritual intelligence (SQ): what you are
Different types of intelligence
The different types of intelligence

Ken Wilber, the creator of Integral Theory and trainer of Mindvalley’s The Integral Life Quest, explains that your intelligence isn’t linear. Different skills and traits undergo growth and development. 

It means that you can have one of the highest IQs but, at the same time, have low spiritual intelligence.

The Main Principles of Spiritual Intelligence

Think of the main principles of SQ as the most admirable qualities of your spiritual heroes—Buddha, Jesus Christ, Prophet Muhammad, or people like Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama, and Mahatma Gandhi. 

There are 21 such spiritual qualities or skills that can be measured and intentionally developed, called the “21SQ model.” Coined by Cindy Wigglesworth, founder of Deep Change, this model includes the principles that can help you become more aware, compassionate, and authentic.

Let’s look at these qualities and how they translate into your daily behaviors:

QualitiesWhat They AreDaily Behaviors
Self-awarenessUnderstanding oneself, including strengths, weaknesses, motivationsReflecting on one’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors
SpontaneityActing authentically and creatively without attachment to the outcomeBeing open to new experiences and trying new things
ListeningPaying close attention to others and remaining open to perspectivesSeeking deeper understanding and meaning
EmpathyUnderstanding and connecting with the emotions and experiences of othersShowing empathy and kindness towards oneself and others
ForgivenessLetting go of negative emotions and grudgesLetting go of grudges and resentment towards oneself and others
HumilityRecognizing limitations and seeing others as teachersRecognizing limitations and being open to learning from others
PatiencePracticing acceptance and endurance in difficult situationsFinding meaning and growth in difficult experiences
GenerosityGiving freely of oneself and resources to othersOffering your skills and expertise to benefit others 
GratitudeAppreciating the good in oneself and othersExpressing gratitude and appreciation for the beauty of life
CompassionResponding with kindness and concern towards oneself and othersExtending understanding and kindness without criticism
EthicsLiving in accordance with one’s values and principlesAdhering to a strong ethical code and living in alignment with values
VisionHolding a clear and inspiring vision for yourself and othersSetting intentional goals that align with one’s values and purpose
CreativityImaginative and innovative in problem-solving and expressionEmbracing different cultures, beliefs, and perspectives
JoyExperiencing and spreading happiness and positivityCultivating a positive mindset and focusing on the bright side of situations
CourageActing with bravery and determination in the face of adversityThinking for oneself and not being swayed by external influences
LoveCultivating deep, meaningful connections with oneself and othersCultivating self-love
PlayfulnessEmbracing fun and spontaneity in lifeGoing with the flow, embracing opportunities for fun and enjoyment as they arise
PresenceBeing fully engaged and mindful in the present momentSeeing the bigger picture and understanding one’s actions in the grand scheme
WisdomIntegrating knowledge, experience, and intuition to make wise decisionsQuestioning the deeper meaning and purpose behind things
PeaceCultivating inner peace and promoting peace in the world
Accepting mortality and finding peace in the knowledge that life is finite
PurposeHaving a sense of meaning and purpose that transcends personal lifeFeeling called to a higher purpose or mission in life

In essence, these principles are examples of spiritual intelligence in action that can help you identify areas where you need to improve.

What Is the Difference Between Spiritual Intelligence and Spirituality?

Think of it this way: spirituality is the engine, while spiritual intelligence is the steering wheel. One drives you, and the other directs you in life.

Spirituality is your knowing that there’s a higher power, the Ultimate Ground, God, or Source. Spiritual intelligence, on the other hand, is your ability to access it and embody its qualities in your daily life.

They work together to guide you toward your goals and aspirations. For example, you may be spiritual, but without spiritual intelligence, you may struggle to find practical ways to apply your beliefs in your personal and professional lives.

In essence, spirituality is your stepping stone to developing spiritual intelligence by embodying and living your spiritual beliefs.

Learn more: Spirituality 101: Getting Started With the Mind, Body & Soul Connection

How to Calculate Our Spiritual Intelligence

So, how do you measure your spiritual intelligence? With this assessment tool called the SQ21™.

It’s the same SQ21 model that outlines 21 SQ principles. It consists of 21 questions that gauge your ability to apply spiritual intelligence principles in your daily life.

Once you’ve completed the assessment, you can see your strengths and areas for improvement. Remember that the results aren’t definitive of your spiritual intelligence but serve as a guide to your further evolution. 

Woman in gratitude sitting in her living room

6 Ways to Develop Your Spiritual Intelligence

If you follow the model of SQ principles as your guide on what it means to be spiritually intelligent, you can see what it takes to learn how to walk, talk, and live them.

Here are six proven ways to deepen your spirituality and embody it in your daily life:

1. Cultivate mindfulness

Mindfulness is one single faculty you can develop to improve your SQ. It can also improve your emotional intelligence and help you live your life authentically.

Start by simply noticing your thoughts and feelings without judgment throughout the day. You can set an alarm as a reminder. 

Learn more: 12 Everyday Mindfulness Activities for Greater Awareness

2. Practice stillness

According to Jeffrey, the higher mind is always still, unlike your human mind, which is racing all the time. 

When you practice stillness, you tap into your higher mind and connect with your spirit. This is why it’s critical to take time to disconnect from the bustle of the outside world to make space for stillness.

You can cultivate it through meditation, mindful walks, and sitting next to trees—anything that enables you to focus on your inner world will do. If you can truly pause just for a few moments every day, you will eventually learn how to be internally still when you need it the most. 

3. Meditate

Meditation is an all-in-one tool for improving your spirituality and developing spiritual intelligence. Science has proven what Tibetan monks have known and practiced for centuries: it can help you develop Buddha’s brain, an elevated state of consciousness also known as the flow state

Not only will it help you become a happier human being, but you will also become more spiritually evolved. 

And if you want to take your meditation practice to the next level, try the 6 Phase Meditation. It’s a “form of transcendent practice that allows you to go into your mind and optimize the very act of being human,” as Vishen, founder of Mindvalley and trainer of Mindvalley’s The 6 Phase Meditation Quest, defines it.

Mock up of the 6 Phase Meditation on the Mindvalley app
6 Phase Meditation guided by Vishen, available on the Mindvalley app

4. Read spiritual texts

Imagine that you could download someone’s life experience, expertise, and wisdom directly to your brain. This is what reading a book essentially offers. 

As Jim Kwik, brain performance expert and trainer of Mindvalley’s Super Reading Quest, puts it, “Reading allows you to gain treasures for life.”  

So by reading spiritual texts, you can download the universal spiritual wisdom of Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and beyond.

5. Cultivate compassion

Regardless of our differences, we all strive for the same thing—to be happy, because the purpose of life is happiness, according to the Dalai Lama. And believe it or not, compassion is one of the sources of true happiness. 

When you have compassion, your mind is calm because it’s free from judgment and resentment. What’s more, studies have shown that when you meditate on compassion, it activates your motor cortex, the area of the brain connected to the intention to act. 

Gelong Thubten, a Tibetan Buddhist monk and trainer of Mindvalley’s Becoming More Loving Quest, explains that when it’s activated, it makes you act in ways that will benefit not only you but others as well. That is your spiritual intelligence in action. 

6. See interconnectedness in all things

We aren’t just interconnected; we are interdependent on each other. 

In fact, there is no single aspect of creation that stands apart from others. And spiritual intelligence implies embodying this profound knowledge, as this awareness reveals the truth beyond time and space.

What’s more, noetic scientists have found methods and practices to assess your perceived sense of interconnectedness with yourself, others, and nature. These can help you create breakthroughs in transformation, innovation, and well-being. 

So the more you see, sense, and know that everything is interconnected, the more transformed, innovative, and well-off you are going to be. 

Woman in a forest and looking up to the sky

Living Your Most Elevated Life

Spiritual intelligence isn’t just about feeling more connected to the Universe. 

It’s about being profoundly connected to your most authentic self and living your life in alignment with your soul’s desires. It’s about having unshakable resilience to navigate the ups and downs of life with grace and ease. And it’s about cultivating a sense of inner peace and an eternally grateful heart.

If such a life speaks to your highest aspirations, Mindvalley is the right place to be. Here, you can learn how to:

  • Develop your spiritual awareness with Jeffrey Allen’s Duality Quest, 
  • Cultivate a more compassionate and loving heart with Gelong Thubten’s Becoming More Loving Quest, 
  • Create more joy, happiness, and fulfillment in every dimension of your life with Mahatria’s A Journey to Infinitheism Quest, and
  • Discover your power and the best elements of the world with Ken Wilber’s The Integral Life Quest.

What’s more, by signing up for a free account, you get access to the first lessons from these quests. 

Welcome in.


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Tatiana Azman

Tatiana Azman

Tatiana Azman is an SEO content editor for Mindvalley and a certified life coach. With a background in spa and wellness as well as having gone through a cancer experience, she's constantly on the lookout for natural, effective ways that help with one's overall well-being.
Written by

Irina Yugay

As a former self-development and self-transcendence writer at Mindvalley, Irina uses words to transpire empowering ideas, transcendental feelings, and omniversal values. She's also an ascension coach who helps her clients grow their spiritual awareness and actualize their true nature. With a deep empirical understanding of the spiritual journey, Irina shares her insights and experiences with the readers to inspire them to transcend their limiting beliefs and achieve higher states of consciousness.
Sadhguru
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Sadhguru is the trainer of Mindvalley’s A Yogi’s Guide to Joy Quest. His ability to make timeless truths and profound yogic technologies accessible to modern audiences has made him one of the most widely followed spiritual masters of our generation.

Over the past four decades, Sadhguru has offered yoga and meditation to millions of people across the world and has established the Isha Foundation, supported by over 11 million volunteers in 300 cities worldwide. As the visionary behind several massive-scale humanitarian projects in public health, education, and ecology, Sadhguru inspires millions to dedicate their time and energy to creating inner well-being and, in turn, creating a conscious planet.

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Mindvalley is committed to providing reliable and trustworthy content. 

We rely heavily on evidence-based sources, including peer-reviewed studies and insights from recognized experts in various personal growth fields. Our goal is to keep the information we share both current and factual. 

The Mindvalley fact-checking guidelines are based on:

To learn more about our dedication to reliable reporting, you can read our detailed editorial standards.