When I am working with a client in helping them rebuild their spiritual framework after the origins of their faith crumble, I always stress how important it is to understand that there is no "right" or "wrong" way to rebuild. I want to take this same idea into the realm of religion vs spirituality.
I am not against religion. A lot of my spiritual foundation can be attributed to my religious structure and beginnings. I do believe that inside the framework of religion is where a lot of individuals best access their connection to God.
However, for me, it also became a place where I was stifled and the dogma and rules and restrictions and perfectionistic tendencies blocked my spiritual progress. I felt a gentle nudge from God herself that some of the rules and doctrines of my religion were no longer my path. For me, in order to move forward, I had to step back from religion.
That step away was a long and painful process and when it happened, I honestly didn't even know if my new foundation would be a spiritual path. I just felt broken and lost. But as I sifted through what was the next right thing, one day at a time, one prayer at a time, I did rebuild.
The further I was able to step away from the structure of religion, the more connected I felt to Source and my ability to love and be love. After 3 decades of being told how and when and where I needed to pray, seek God, dress, what to eat, drink, how to spend my time in order to be in good standing with a higher power, the freedom to not have to follow a certain criteria and STILL be able to access all that goodness and love was revolutionary for me.
My new foundation of how I connect to God still includes a few tenants from my old religion. I still pray. I still believe in personal revelation. I am still mindful about how my body is a channel and a receptor for connecting. I still hold the teachings of Jesus close to my heart and soul. But all of those things are now 'according to the dictates of my own conscience.' (A phrase from my Mormon theology!)
But I also find answers and guidance to my life through oracle cards and crystals. I believe in past lives and the boomerang idea of karma and energy: whatever we put out, we get back. I see God in the cycles and seasons of nature. I've found truth in the crashing of the ocean waves and the effortless flight of a bird over the water. I have ancient Goddesses and archetypes in my canon of places I look to for truth, direction and tools to live with my highest self in mind.
I traded the certainty of answers in my old religion for faith in a beautiful and vast universe. I like not knowing everything. I've always loved surprises.
My most favorite personal mantra to come out of all of this: open mind, curious heart.
Along with my belief that spirituality provides more freedom for how I access Divinity, it comes right along with the fact that my loved ones, dear friends and anyone else I meet along my journey who finds the same peace, comfort and solace in structured religion as I do in my eclectic spirituality are doing it "right" also.
We are all one, love accordingly.