As a child I was admonished many times with the bible verse "he that has no rule over his spirit is like a city that is broken down and without walls". This was generally used in the context of anger because I had a ferocious temper but also was used broadly as a warning to guard against the ever present predator - sin. Religion throws up walls of separation as protection, avoiding things like having the internet in your home so you don't fall prey to pornography or imbibing alcohol for fear of indulging too much. It's a way of living that excludes many things that are innocuous because of the fear of being over run. I was tired of living a constrained life so as an adult I opened myself up slowly and quit trying to hedge my life in for fear of fucking up.
Now, I'm enjoying my life way more, but I am tired of feeling like I don't have barriers against the emotional damage life can cause. There is wisdom in "ruling your spirit" but I don't see it as blocking everyone or every potential "evil" out, holding the world at arms length. Guarding yourself in a healthy way is like a good drug trip. I'm sure you're probably thinking "what the fuck?" but bear with me. I don't have extensive experience with illicit substances but the little I have has taught me a lot. The first drug I ever tried was weed and I completely over did it which freaked me out at first but as I was laying in bed trying to go to sleep a part of my mind was detached as if I was observing myself from outer space. This objective viewpoint allowed me to instruct the part of me that was freaking out and eventually calm down. I recently tried shrooms for the first time and my subsequent experiences informed this journey. Instead of freaking out at all the different feelings and sensations I accepted them as part of the trip. I retained a calm unlike I've ever had in my life and completely enjoyed the experience because instead of letting each little thing effect me, I detached and let it wash over me as if I was observing this happen to someone else. I knew that it wouldn't last forever and if I felt bad or scared, it wasn't real, just a figment of my imagination. There has to be that separation between what your brain is processing and what the other part of your being is experiencing. You do your best to select an experience that is not harmful and then let it wash over you knowing that nothing is forever and that the things that are trying to assault you can only take hold if you let them.
Our culture doesn't meditate or get outside ourselves very much thereby causing too much proximity between the external and internal. It's like the transference of energy experiment you do as kids where you place two pennies together touching and then slam a third penny into the middle one causing the furthest one to fly off. We need a distance between the data coming in from the world and the spirit or whatever you want to call who you are inside. That insulation doesn't hide you from life like a wall stopping the penny delivering the energy but prevents you from being damaged because the energy is deadened by the middle penny your finger is on. Your brain and spirit can, and I believe, should be detached from each other.
Religion appeals to many people because it provides a barrier between their conjoined mind and spirit and the outer world. All the rules keep the world a distance away or act as a life preserver like my previous view of sex. There is a huge difference between religion and a belief in a god. One is a crutch and a wall for protecting a feeble mind. The other is a factual acceptance. I believe much of our emotional and even physical disease would be lessened if we practiced things like meditation instead of building walls to keep everything out or the alternative of being unprotected allowing life to slam into you like asteroids cratering the surface of your heart.