"Spiritual, not religious" is a way many people describe themselves in this day and age. I wanted to take a few minutes to make a reflection on this concept.
As I see it, it is a simple way for people to say 'I believe in something, but I don't attend a service.' But I've also met people who go to church several times a week and call themselves 'spiritual, not religious'. Today I met a man who studied many religions and calls himself neither spiritual or religious.
I was taught that religion is man's way of reaching God and that spirituality is connection to God. With this in mind, I have called myself spiritual, not religious with an ongoing relationship to God, even though my ordination is of interfaith and my personal religious practice is Christain.
I've been in third world countries which has no religious institution and I was still in connection with God, maybe even more so since I could not come together with other commonly hearted people.
That is what I see as religion, the coming together with common hearted folks to support and build each other up using a set of activities, rituals and behaviors. A communal group of people who can love each other through all aspects of life.
That brings about another group of "spiritual, not religious" people I have noticed. They feel they have been rejected by a religious organization and have made the decision they can live life without the community. I've seen their pain especially when people believe the actions of the religious organization is the actions of God.
Religions are designed to help people know God better as well as live a life with others. But religions are manmade and anything manmade is not perfect no matter how good an intent in the design. As participants we need to accept the fact that things are not perfect and pick a religious organization which lifts our hearts and encourages us to make connection with God and those around us.
From a healing perspective both spirutality and religiousness promotes wellness. Our connection to God is paramount since our basic need for this connection is part of our brain wiring. (If it wasn't, do you think there would be religion at all?) We also have communal souls requiring a deep connection to others where we share beliefs. Without such connections we feel isolated and alone. This can lead to depression, stress and illness.
Days of yesteryear we would get these sort of connections through extended famiiy gatherings and the local church attended by our neighbors. Today our families are smaller and few of us know our neighbors. If we are fortunate we have connections with some good friends But often we replace the connections with shallow event connections like other parents attending a kid's soccer game or others at a workout session. The simple discussions of the event does not satisfy the underlying need to share hearts and help you explore deeper issues like that of What is my purpose? Why was I created? Who am I? and How can I best live my life? Religious groups can help you discover your answers to these and more questions.
So maybe I'm not "spiritual, not religious", perhaps I'm spiritual and religious. I find I need my connection to God as well as connection to a community of like hearted friends. As a healer I encourage you to seek out the connections you need for your heart and wellbeing.
Linda Bender is a metaphysical doctor trained as a medical intuitive. She uses over 20 holistic life coaching and touch therapy techniques from Reiki to personal training to help you reduce stress and pain so your body invokes its natural healing ability. She is at Bender Healing on Church Street in Phoenixville. See www.BenderHealing.com or call 800-706-1354 for more information.