Most people who start the spiritual journey do so, because they want to get over some kind of loss, or want to resolve their emotional traumas. They hope that spirituality can give them the tools that can help them overcome their mental pain and suffering. But you have to be very careful with this attitude, because it can easily lead to so-called spiritual bypassing.
If your initial motivation for becoming a spiritual person was to solve your mental or emotional problems, then you can almost be sure that you spiritually bypass, unless you’ve done some kind of shadow work in the past. Spiritual bypassing is not just a minor problem in this field, it is outright dangerous, and sadly it’s becoming more and more common.
So what is spiritual bypassing exactly? It’s defined as a tendency to use spiritual ideas and practices to sidestep or avoid facing unresolved emotional issues, psychological wounds, and unfinished developmental tasks. It is the dark side of spirituality, that often goes unnoticed, because it’s accepted and even valued in spiritual circles.
It is the raping of spirituality, because one is using spiritual tools in exactly the opposite way than they were supposed to be used. You see, spirituality is all about raising your consciousness, but through bypassing you make yourself even more unconscious than when you started. Spirituality is about discovering the truth, but through bypassing you simply deny the truth. Spirituality is about making yourself whole again, but through bypassing you create an even bigger gap in yourself.
Bypassing can be achieved not only through spiritual methods, it’s even more common to use drugs, alcohol, pills, entertainment, work or any strategy that works to avoid your feelings. And it’s not only common in new age or self-help groups, among religions it’s even more widespread. Spiritual bypassing leads to a form of shallow and superficial spirituality, and it definitely does more harm than good.
Unless you were raised by two fully enlightened parents, you collected various emotional wounds and limiting mental patterns as a child. If they haven’t been resolved since then, you are still carrying these wounds in your heart, but you’ve got so used to them that they feel natural, and you don’t even notice them by now.
But you need to lock them down into a safe place, because releasing them now would feel like opening Pandora’s box. You carry a huge weight in your heart, and you’re unable to face the pain, so you want to deny it, escape from it, forget about it. This is why you want to use spirituality as a painkiller, meditation as a medication, mindfulness as a sedative.
You symbolically perform a bypass surgery on yourself to circumvent the painful feelings of your heart, but instead of healing it, you are simply cutting yourself away from your heart altogether, and numbing yourself to the pain. You stop feeling any emotion, you dissociate yourself from your human nature, and develop a spiritual ego.
Your emotional pain is a bitter pill to swallow, but you swallowed it nonetheless. You can’t stomach it, and you can’t spit it out either, so through spiritual bypassing you attempt to simply disregard it. However, disregarding a poison in your system will only make things worse with time. This poison slowly seeps into your blood, it penetrates deep inside you, becomes almost one with you. It will cause bigger and bigger problems, so you’ll have to deal with it anyway sooner or later.
The solution is to face the problem right away, get to know this poison intimately, so that you can heal more effectively. Even though you will feel its bitter taste in your mouth as the vomit comes out, once it’s out, you can truly forget about it. Meaning that while you’re facing the pain directly, the process will still feel painful, but once it’s resolved, it may never come back. But it’s still much more bearable and healthy to endure a high level of pain for a short time than to live with a manageable but increasingly higher level of pain until the end of your life.
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