SPIRITUAL BYPASS - a term coined by psychotherapist, John Welwood - RIP.
He defined this phenomenon as using “spiritual ideas and practices to sidestep personal, emotional ‘unfinished business,’ to shore up a shaky sense of self, or to belittle basic needs, feelings, and developmental tasks.” The goal of these practices is to achieve spiritual enlightenment. Some of you may also know this practice as cognitive dissonance. Because I work mainly on a spiritual level with individuals, I prefer the definition of Spiritual Bypass over CD. When I heard it, it was a "That's IT!" moment.
As I've been moving through this year of deep healing, this concept hit at the perfect time for me in my process. I literally STOPPED to ask myself, "Where do I spiritually bypass? Am I spiritually bypassing in any area?" Well, because I'm human, that answer was yes - not across the board, thank God, but in some areas that could be detrimental to my growth had I not come across this lesson. Spiritual bypassing hits deep once we remove the practice of it. By stopping this process, it rips the scab off wounds of our mental and spiritual states, exposing us to our raw, vulnerable, often times infantile states of being.
How have I Spiritually Bypassed?
1. Reading, studying, researching spiritual practices, but not practicing them fully. Not putting them through my filters to see if they are actual practices that I vibe with, believe in, or even suit me in my journey.
2. Writing down "to do" lists for growth, then stalling myself, distracting myself, before I complete the goal.
3. Allowing, and even creating, distractions that counter the inner work I want to do.
Spiritual growth and healing is very messy work. Very messy ... and can be extremely painful. It's why most hesitate from this process and choose instead to seek and look outside of themself for comfort. Comfort is a good word for Spiritual Bypassing.
1. Go to a guru and get lifted with positive messages.
2. Attend a high power/energy retreat that gets the adrenaline going and leaves you feeling empowered for a weekend.
3. Go to church and feel community for an hour.
4. Listen to a podcast or lecture on all we need to do is "think positive" and all our troubles will melt away.
5. Change your vibration and you can't be touched.
All these sound good, and they are all very healthy things to do - YES! No argument there - but there is a HUGE piece missing here in these processes. I've seen many speak away their weaknesses and trespasses by stating, "well, we're all sinners", or "just fill your heart with love, it conquers all", or "let's just clean-slate it". Sorry folks, it just doesn't work like that. If it did, we'd be living in a whole different reality with each other. If it were that easy ... It's not easy, I guarantee you that.
The process of Spiritual Enlightenment is getting down into the mud with yourself and staying there in it until you realize how the spiritual dysfunction got there to begin with. I promise you, most of how it got there is by your own doing ... and this is what people don't like to look at. We like to point away from ourselves (projection), we prefer to blame someone else for our trespasses, our pain, our sorrow. By allowing yourself to sit in your mud, you begin to take notice how it was "you" that allowed many of these things to happen. It was "you" that actually manifested these situations for yourself...and OH, how discombobulating this realization is. How utterly humbling to know we are the ones that opened the door for pain upon ourselves.
Spiritual enlightenment forces us to take responsibility, take ownership of our actions and mental state. It forces us to clean up our act, so to speak. There is absolutely NO WAY to escape the process of digging into your shadow for true healing and spiritual growth. There are NO SHORTCUTS, there are NO BYPASSES. One can not cheat the system of Universal Law. There is NO WAY of getting out easy.
Again, healing is hard work. Hard-ass-work. WORK!, not la-la lets pretend like all is well in the world - NO - you cheat yourself out of the joy of truly understanding yourself and toughing through the dementia of your mind. There is nothing more blissful than eating your own mudpie, wiping your mouth clean and claiming your prize of healing.
How do you know you've succeeded in healing?, when you don't have to TRY to think positive thoughts. When you don't have to TRY to not be angry or sad or depressed or defeated. When you don't have to run to the next "ra-ra" retreat to get a fix of positive affirmation. When you don't have to fill your world with memes and constant reminders that you are worth something - instead, you write/create them for other people. You lead others into their mud and tell them they are not alone. You stand tall and have a natural air of compassion about you. You no longer have to quote the Masters as your daily speech, because you've cultivated your own divine language for yourself. People now quote you!
There is plenty to fear by turning inward, as most don't have a clue of who they are. I was told once that should I decide to take that inner journey into the self, be prepared to be horrified at what I'll find and discover. Many spiritual cultures refer to this type of spiritual quest as going down into the dark caves of Hades. The only way to enter, is to enter completely naked, with only the torch of your inner-light guiding the way. There will be many shadows and many echoes trying to push one back from the forward course...but when you realize those shadows are your shadows and the echoes stem from your own demented ego, the fear starts to dissipate and we start to see the light at the end...but at first, it is horrifying. I know, as I've been there.
One must go down before one comes up. It's the Law.
What is the payoff? There are many many payoffs to doing this kind of work. The main one, is truly knowing yourself. You will never question again your value, who you are, where you came from, what your purpose is. This is huge and a gift that no one can give you...nor can anyone take it away.
Spiritual Bypassing is a band-aid. It works for a time, before it falls off and another has to be applied. At some point, you have to remove the bandage and let the wound "air out" so it can heal properly.
My recommendation for anyone who desires to travel a quest of healing like this ... do make sure you have some outside support from a therapist, a spiritual coach, or practitioner who can help guide you through some of the deeper traumas. It's helpful to have someone you trust, but also qualified to help navigate through the distortions of the mind. Once most of the thick, sick, ill-filled mud has been cleared, one can usually take off on their own and develop their own unique Spiritual calling.
In love and light, I share these words with you. It is my hope that each and every one of you that reads these posts, pulls a seed or two from them. Create them however you desire. There is never a right or wrong way - our paths are individual and unique.
Until next time - Be well, Stay well
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Tiffany comes from a long line of Spiritual experience and Truth seeking. Here, she shares some of her favorite topics for contemplation.