Spirituality vs. Religion: 5 Important Differences to Note

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In a recent blog post, I talked about spirituality and how you can use it to give your self-care routine a boost. When I mention spirituality, I’m surprised by how many people either have no idea what I’m talking about, or think I’m talking about religion.

Let me start by saying that spirituality and religion are not mutually inclusive or exclusive. You can be spiritual without being religious and you can be religious without being spiritual. It’s also possible to be both religious and spiritual at the same time.

So, let’s get into it. What are the main differences between spirituality and religion?

1. Telling vs. discovering

I want to be clear that I don’t mean to sound negative towards religion. It works for many people, but the thing about some religions is that they tell you what to believe. They even tell you how you should and shouldn’t act.

When it comes to spirituality, what you believe and how you act is more of a discovery process. You become spiritual by investigating what your own personal truth is. It’s a very empowering and personal process because nobody is telling you what to believe, you are learning what works for you.

2. The golden rule

While religion and spirituality both practice the golden rule (treat others the way you want to be treated) the motivation for doing so can be very different. When it comes to spirituality, if you don’t treat others with respect and care, then karma will not be your friend. So basically, you get what you give.

Many religions believe that if you don’t follow the golden rule, you will be punished by being sent to hell or some other consequence equally as bad. So, you are trying to be your best by avoiding punishment, not necessarily trying to better yourself.

3. Acceptance vs. fear

You may have heard people say that Tarot cards and other spiritual tools are evil. This is a fear based way of thinking and doesn’t necessarily come only from religious people. People often fear what they don’t understand.

Rather than shunning something they don’t understand, a spiritual person accepts that there are many ways of thinking and differences in thought and opinion are a good thing.  

4. Spirituality is all encompassing

The reason you can be both spiritual and religious is that spirituality takes the Divine message evident in all religions and unites them. It’s because of something Divine that we are all here, and we are all here to discover our own personal truths. While many religions may focus on the greater good rather than the individual, spirituality highlights how we as individuals can benefit from the Divine message as well as how the Divine works through us to help others.

5. Anything goes when it comes to spirituality

This is a big one, and it’s probably my favourite! When it comes to religion, there are many different types with many different rules. With spirituality, there are no rules!

The beauty of being spiritual is you can do whatever feels good to you and use whatever tools you enjoy the most. You have the ability to discover what helps you be the best version of yourself by listening to your inner voice.

To practice spirituality, you simply need to follow your heart and your intuition. If you’re not sure how to get started, check out my tips for incorporating spirituality into your self-care practice, or contact me for more info.

Josie Myers is a Spiritual Motherhood GuideWith a master’s degree in education and a background in Reiki, Josie Myers is a (1)


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