I was having a first phone session with Leigh. I asked her something that I ask every client:
"Do you have a personal connection with a spiritual source of guidance?"
"Well,' Leigh answered, "I was brought up Catholic, but I don't go to church much anymore."
At least half the time I ask this question, I receive a similar answer. Many people are confused between religion and spirituality.
"I'm not actually asking about religion," I said kindly. "I'm asking about whether you have a personal connection with a spiritual source of love and wisdom."
"I guess I don't know what that means."
People can be brought up religiously, yet never feel a personal connection with their spiritual guidance.
The problem is that many religions are based on a set of beliefs and rules that need to be followed in order to be a part of that religion. There is nothing wrong with this, but it is not the same thing as having a direct connection with your own personal course of love and wisdom.
Being part of a religious group can serve an important purpose in terms of community, support, and a sense of belonging. If the religion is flexible, then it can support you in maintaining your spiritual connection. But if the beliefs of the religion state that you are not capable of having a direct connection with Spirit, or that it is dangerous to open directly to Spirit, then it is not supporting you in having your own personal experience of your Higher Power.
Religion is a community thing, while your spirituality is a very personal thing. Each of us needs to find our own way to connect with our Source.
I recently spent a working weekend with a wonderful couple - I will call them Tom and Janet. We were talking about religion and Tom said with a laugh, "I'm a '7th day absenteeist.' I used to go to church, but when they took a stance against gays and kept harping that I, too, need to take a stance against gays, I left the church. I don't believe in a God that has that kind of judgments."
Tom is a very spiritual person. He is tuned into his own heart and feelings and follows his inner guidance rather than following rules and beliefs. He and Janet have found a new, non-denominational church that allows them to have their own beliefs and spiritual experience. Tom and Janet enjoy this church community, which they find supports their spiritual connection.
Now, back to Leigh.
"Leigh, would you like some help in connecting with your personal source of love and truth?"
"Yes, I'd love that."
First Leigh and I explored her belief system to make sure there weren't any negative beliefs in the way of opening to her guidance. We explored what she had absorbed from her Catholic upbringing.
"I went to a girl's Catholic school and the nuns were very strict. When I think of God, I think about their concept of a judgmental God. That's why I rarely go to church anymore."
I helped Leigh connect with an older wiser part of herself. She liked this image, which bypassed her concerns about a judgmental punishing God.
As Leigh began to practice Inner Bonding, she was able to establish her own understanding and experience of Spirit. As a result, she was able to find a progressive Catholic church and again become part of a religious community, which she greatly enjoyed. Her new church supported her in developing her own personal spirituality.