Spiritual Bypass is defined as, "the use of spiritual practices and beliefs to avoid dealing with our painful feelings, unresolved wounds, and developmental needs." As we start any spiritual journey, we must become aware of spiritual bypass and how that can impact our path. For some, coming across a teacher or "guru" who is engaging in spiritual bypass may cause them to pull away from spirituality altogether. I want you to avoid that by being fully aware.
In this episode, I share about what Spiritual Bypass is and how it shows up. And we can't talk about spiritual bypass without talking about "manifesting". Manifesting is something I strongly believe in...AND, I think sometimes we make very blanket statements about what manifesting is to the point that it can become spiritual bypass in and of itself.
When we tell people that they have "manifested the bad in their lives" without taking into account oppression, poverty, crime, and violence...we are setting folks up to doubt their truths and it can become a form of victim blaming.
According to the article Spiritual Bypassing – Avoidance In Holy Drag by Robert Augustus Masters, PhD, (linked below) aspects of spiritual bypassing include (but are not limited to):
emotional numbing and repression,
overemphasis on the positive,
blind or overly tolerant compassion,
weak or too porous boundaries,
lopsided development (cognitive intelligence often being far ahead of emotional and moral intelligence),
debilitating judgment about one’s negativity,
devaluation of the personal relative to the spiritual, and
delusions of having arrived at a higher level of being.
In this same essay, Dr. Masters shares the following, "True spirituality is not a high, not a rush, not an altered state. It has been fine to romance it for a while, but our times call for something far more real, grounded, and responsible; something radically alive and naturally integral; something that shakes us to our very core until we stop treating spiritual deepening as a something to dabble in here and there.
Authentic spirituality is not some little flicker or buzz of knowingness, not a psychedelic blast-through or a mellow hanging-out on some exalted plane of consciousness, not a bubble of immunity, but a vast fire of liberation, an exquisitely fitting crucible and sanctuary, providing both heat and light for what must be done.
Most of the time when we’re immersed in spiritual bypassing, we like the light but not the heat, doing whatever we can to distance ourselves from the flames."
One of the "spiritual bypassy" things we say in the yoga world is to "get over fear" or "be fearless". What a phenomenal goal! But if there is no qualifier to that statement, it can be dangerous. For those who experience very real fear in their lives, telling them to ignore that fear is unsafe.
In his book, The Gift of Fear (linked below), Gavin De Becker talks about how fear is a gift of information, warning us about our environment so that we can make informed decisions to keep ourselves safe. But many of us are trained to ignore our fear, lest we be seen as "not nice" or "not spiritual". This is stupid and dangerous.
“Every day, people engaged in the clever defiance of their own intuition become, in mid-thought, victims of violence and accidents. So when we wonder why we are victims so often, the answer is clear: It is because we are so good at it. A woman could offer no greater cooperation to her soon-to-be attacker than to spend her time telling herself, “But he seems like such a nice man.” Yet this is exactly what many people do. A woman is waiting for an elevator, and when the doors open she sees a man inside who causes her apprehension. Since she is not usually afraid, it may be the late hour, his size, the way he looks at her, the rate of attacks in the neighborhood, an article she read a year ago—it doesn’t matter why. The point is, she gets a feeling of fear. How does she respond to nature’s strongest survival signal? She suppresses it, telling herself: “I’m not going to live like that, I’m not going to insult this guy by letting the door close in his face.” When the fear doesn’t go away, she tells herself not to be so silly, and she gets into the elevator. Now, which is sillier: waiting a moment for the next elevator, or getting into a soundproofed steel chamber with a stranger she is afraid of? The inner voice is wise, and part of my purpose in writing this book is to give people permission to listen to it.”
I know this can be a touchy subject to talk about, but I hope this resonated with you. I would love to know how this lands for you and what your thoughts are about spiritual bypassing and manifesting!
Resources from this episode:
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