Spiritual Bypass

On my mindful journey i have come across many different spiritual groups who’s teachings embody mindfulness in some way, shape or form whether it is Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, or new age teachings. I find that people often address life’s most difficult questions or issues with generic spiritual #hashtags so to speak.Many people go to a spiritual teaching to get answers to life’s most profound questions and many teachings claim to have all the answers. And maby they do but i have also observed the phenomena of spiritual bypass.

So what is spiritual bypass? Wikipedia describes it as follows:

A spiritual bypass or spiritual bypassing is a “tendency to use spiritual ideas and practices to sidestep or avoid facing unresolved emotional issues, psychological wounds, and unfinished developmental tasks.

I would simply say that spiritual bypass happens when people use spirituality as a coping mechanism for dealing with issues that we don’t always have the answers too.

For example I study Adviata Vedanta which is a branch of Hinduism and i find that amongst the mainly white and middle class audiences. I get the all too familiar “who is asking that question” response to any difficult questions raised in an attempt to re-locate the focus to the questioning of the questioner. This is a pseudo attempt at questioning the questioners identity with the intention of inducing a realization and is akin to a child questioning every answer with WHY!

You can see how easy it is to use this as a cop out!

This phrase has been abused and normalized to play down life’s tricky and unanswerable questions. It is also a problematic statement as it totally discredits any real questions that emotional and intelligent human beings ask. The other common phrase is “we are all one” or claiming oneness in the face of any questioning of morals or differences in value systems. I believe that separateness is an illusion but i also i see how problematic spiritual bypass is when it comes to any real human issues. the “We are all one” scapegoat is very similar to the “All live matter” response that embodies animosity and discredits other human beings suffering under the banner of equality.

When we dismiss issues and justify everything from a spiritual frame work spiritual teachings can get distorted.

Mindfulness and Vulnerability

Embracing our vulnerabilities can be a very difficult process and this issue is sometimes overlooked in the self development and well-being wold. In fact authentic self development and mindfulness for that matter is all about embracing our vulnerabilities and accepting them or accepting that we cant accept them.

This doesn’t seem to be productive but realizing vulnerable aspect of ourselves has a big impact on our self image. Acceptance isn’t always a linear journey it can also be a sporadic squiggle and learning to embrace our short comings is an individual process. Accepting were we are versus where we want to be can seem very sobering and somber. But these reflections can help us to digest our situation and open room for more growth if we can simply be with how we feel.

Question!

Have you every had the experience of talking about a distressing issue with a close friend or loved one and at the end of the conversation you felt a lot better even though the problem didn’t change?

Acknowledging our vulnerabilities has this similar effect of lessening the compounding stress of these feelings as a result of either avoiding them or over engaging in them. This leaves us with our emotional and mental state as it is positive or negative.

This process doesn’t sound to glamorous or life changing does it!…….

But i can assure you that lessening even 10% of you’re stress would make a huge impact on you’re life just as it would if we added 10% more stress to you’re life.

Being mindful and acknowledging our vulnerabilities doesn’t mean we have to like where we are or that we have all the answers but it does mean taking responsibility for how we feel. Not with the intention to claim fault in our selves but to give ourselves the respect we deserve and acknowledge where we are at any given moment.