Arguably, a large topic I decided not to include in my book, The Killing Faith, was information surrounding those seeking a “fresh start” after leaving their religion (The book particularly addresses Christianity but many parallels can be drawn between it and others). This discussion is fairly large and merits its own book, but it’s one I’m not interested in writing just yet. However, what I can provide now is applicable perspective in the form of self development practices.
If you recently walked away from religion, you must re-imagine some of your previous habits by simply subtracting the religious connotation. It’s not necessary to abandon everything you’ve done.
Let’s take for instance, praying. Prayer is essentially self-reflection, a form of self therapy via verbal meditation. Within a religious context, you acknowledge, confess and make requests to a higher being. Outside of religion, it’s meditation, a critical component to healthier living. Admittedly, there will be a learning curve with this. You can’t expect to immediately meditate without entering your previous religious mindset and habit. Time and consistency could slowly transform this given practice.
To help, adapt new meditative habits. Be creative. If you took a particular position for prayer or prayed at a particular place or time, switch it up. Research meditative breathing techniques, positions and types of meditation. Expand your knowledge on everything surrounding it. Escape your home and embed yourself somewhere in nature if you can.
Another example: Attending church. If you strip it down, it’s a social venue. Is it necessary? No. But now that you have freed-up time during former church hours, you can use them technically in the same context. This time, however, you’re not restricted to one place or the same group of people. Brunch or an activity with friends or loved ones works all the same. You can even be more selfish and sleep more, or step up your fitness regiment, perhaps catch-up on that book you kept promising yourself you would read. Whatever it is, use the time to improve your quality of life.
Rituals in religion aren’t magical. They’re nothing more than revised adaptations of necessary human habits and experiences.
Music therapy speaks to this. Singing and “religious worship” is incredible for the soul if you consider its benefits, again, minus the religious bunk. You can still sing and listen to uplifting music. You’re not tied a genre either, nor have wait for a particular time to do it. You’re free to enjoy it anytime anywhere (dancing optional).
What about missions work? There are a plethora of NPO’s and community based organizations involved with servicing those struggling financially, or engage in restoration projects in poorer neighborhoods, or feed the hungry, etc.. It’s simply humanitarian work and available nationwide/globally. Get involved where you feel most effective and rewarded.
You’re no longer living towards any manipulated propaganda or agenda. You’re liberated to explore life as you desire. Bask in it. It could be everything or nothing. It doesn’t matter. It’s your time and energy. They belong to none other than you. Utilize them as you see fit.
Recognize that this is all easier said than done. The effects religion has on the mind cannot be understated nor underestimated. The immediacy after walking away from a religion is likely coping with fear and shame, and the need to surround yourself with a fresh network of people; Another large topic. Restoration of soul and reclamation of self is multifaceted and imperative. Remember that time and consistency will aid in this. You’ve made the extraordinary decision to evolve beyond limiting paradigms and antiquated structures. But the journey doesn’t get easier.
The advantage you have now is that you’ve unlocked your capacity to expand exponentially than previously imaginable. Use this. There’s power within you and much to discover and learn. Take heart. Your adventure has just begun.