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by Pamela Aloia

When I first started practicing energy work, the experiences were incredibly exciting. I learned Reiki and had near immediate results. Debilitating physical symptoms I had been dealing with for years subsided significantly or were eliminated by about 75%. I was ecstatic to have my life back again and wanted to share this new technique with everyone I knew while simultaneously learning as much as I could about energy. How dismayed was I when others weren’t nearly as excited as me or when some even rejected my path. What a blow to my heart that was.

See I grew up Catholic. To this day I believe there are a number of wonderful aspects about the Catholic religion like the Rosary, Mother Mary’s role in Jesus’ life, being able to receive communion, many of the prayers and more. I always had a keen connection with Mother Mary since grade school, especially enjoying the May Processions honoring her as the Mother of Jesus.

After my introduction to Reiki and other similar methods, little did I know that stepping onto the energetic awareness path would lead me to questioning everything I believed in. There came a point in my journey where I was compelled to step away from the Catholic Church and its practices.

What triggered this drastic response? I believe it was an increased awareness of myself and my environment. I started to consider, rather than gloss over, how I felt in certain situations, like going to church and the energy of words used in prayers. This awareness raised in me a discomfort I had pushed aside for years – not just spiritually but in many avenues of my life. I then spent years redefining my relationship with God, Jesus, Mary, the bible, and more. Initially I felt completely betrayed by the Catholic Church for I believed only a small version of the truth had been told. Specific words in certain prayers and rituals I felt pinned participants down energetically, emotionally, and mentally, and feelings of overwhelming guilt and unworthiness prevailed. To have blindly been following this my whole life was daunting to me, and I needed space and perspective to figure out what I was thinking, feeling, and wanting.

This departure allowed me to reconnect with myself. I had known for some time that there is a difference between religion and spirituality. Religion, to me, is the manmade portion of law, conduct, beliefs, and more surrounding the relationship with God that creates the boundaries within that sect of worship and ritual.

Spirituality, to me, is the personal relationship we have with God that inspires worship and rituals outside of manmade laws and beliefs. Spirituality comes from within. Religion comes from without. Can religion invoke spirituality? Yes. Can spirituality invoke religion? Possibly. I feel spirituality has no religion and all religions as the same time.

However, I believe it’s not necessarily religion that drives us to live “rightly” but rather our spirituality that keeps us on track with our internal compass rather than looking outside for recognition, direction, and truth. The beauty about Spirituality is that no one can change, judge, or dictate our spirituality because it is a personal relationship with God – or what I prefer to say God/Goddess. (To me, God is both the highest form of combined masculine and feminine aspects. Such a being cannot exist in pure balance without the other. Therefore, God/Goddess.)

When I embarked upon my path as an energy practitioner, the masses were not in support of such practices. My extended family berated me for “falling from the Lord”, joining a cult, and other hurtful, fear-based comments that as I perceive it now, was based on simply not knowing or understanding what energy work was or is. Nonetheless, it was a difficult path to tread, ensuring that my spirituality continued to expand with whatever endeavors I felt were possible at the rejection of people I loved. 

My path of rediscovery is not unique. I’ve met many people along the way of various religions, where on some level, they find themselves rediscovering or evolving how they view God/Goddess and religion – AND how they incorporate energy work into their beliefs. Sometimes, though, we need to allow our mental bodies a break from judging right or wrong and allow our hearts to shine the truth for us, regardless of upbringing and age-old beliefs.

It is through careful, continuous review of past and current beliefs, digging deep within, facing our fears, asking the tough questions, and finding people who can help support exploration of our doubts that guide us to our internal truth – knowing our truths can and will change along the way.

I view energy work as a spiritual experience. To me, it is sacred and should be treated as such for ourselves and others we share our practices with. Combining energy work with any past or present spiritual practices from our formative years or current religious-based spiritual practices, can be quite powerful. To me, it’s simply combining energy /spirituality to create a stronger experience, and better life as a result. When we step into deeper understanding of our own spirituality, we can apply that to a deeper understanding of spiritual teachings in religions and allow that to help us define our truth in this moment.

It’s been 15 years since my first major step away from the Catholic Church. In that time, I have oscillated from returning to weekly Catholic rituals and not. Also in that time, through the use of meditation, energy work, studies, prayer, and intention, I have cultivated a much deeper connection with God/Goddess, Jesus, Mary, various teachings, the bible, and myself.  Although this path took me and continues to take me on different roads than others may have hoped for me, I am secure in where I am, where I’m going, and look forward to learning and growing along the way even when uncertainty rises.

For people just beginning or still wrestling with the process of reconciling religion with your non-religious spiritual practices, keep going until you find your footing. It’s more than well worth the time, energy, and growth involved. In doing so we create space for others to do the same, which creates an advancement for all society from which to benefit.

Pamela Aloia is an energy healer and author who has focused the last 20 years on individual and collective energy healing. She offers insight for people to expand their consciousness and enhance life experiences by combining practical and heartful aspects, inspiring others to discover a life of soul-filled living. For more information, see www.pamelaaloia.com.