What’s an example of spiritual bypass?
A client contacted me to talk about a problem she was experiencing. After summarizing her situation, she shared what she was doing to address it spiritually.
- talking with her guides and angels
- writing affirmations and posting them conspicuously throughout her home
- listening to inspirational talks
- reading inspirational messages daily
- watching for external signs or messages for clues to the successful manifestation of her desire
Nada. No shift, change, transformation. She asked me what I thought was keeping her from getting what she wanted.
I asked her,
If you’re focused exclusively on your connection to your spiritual life, how do you self-reflect?
That stopped her short. What do you mean, she asked? I’m aware of what I want to have happen, and I’m doing the spiritual work to make it come to pass. What else is there?
I explained that what I was hearing was a spiritual bypass.
Spiritual bypass avoids the work of becoming
To embody your life, to generate change, to manifest a new reality based on your intention for what you’d like to create, there’s real work involved.
- Observation of behaviors
- Monitoring of thoughts and beliefs
- Self-awareness & self-responsibility
- Coherent, aligned choices and actions
Actual work takes planting your feet on the ground, self-observation, embodied awareness and neutral perspective. It requires a separate lens from the one trained on spiritual and metaphysical exploration and contemplation.
I’ll have vanilla
Here’s a simple example that illustrates how wildly practical and evolutionary actual work is, and how it helps avoid spiritual bypass.
You have a goal to eat only vanilla ice cream. You think, meditate, pray and commune on this in your spiritual practice. You’re incredibly consistent with the spiritual work. Yet you order chocolate ice cream every time you go to an ice cream parlor.
What’s going wrong? With that much focus allocated to spiritual practice, while not yielding results, it’s probable that the disconnect lies elsewhere, it’s an open and shut case of spiritual bypass.
Spiritual bypass avoids concrete reality
Spiritual bypass creates an environment where behaviors, actions, beliefs, thoughts and motivations — the very data behind the saga of wanting vanilla and choosing chocolate are overlooked and ignored. Your issue doesn’t evaporate when a spiritual bypass is in play. It might get hidden or forgotten for a while. Until something occurs to bring it back to the surface. Like a stroll into your local Ben & Jerry’s.
Truth is, no amount of meditating, praying, communing and talking to spirit guides will ensure that you’re dripping vanilla down your wrist as you walk away from an ice cream parlor. Your spirituality can inform and support your life, but it’s not the part of you that orders chocolate ice cream!
The boat is you, you’re its captain.
Consider choosing the embodied path instead of the singular spiritual path. Integrate your conscious awareness and take ownership of your thoughts, beliefs, choices and actions. Invite your spirituality to support your actions and creation.
Doing the work
What might you do to make the switch to vanilla ice cream?
- Monitor your thoughts and emotions as you step up to the counter to order a cone. Perhaps you’ll recognize that you are easily seduced by customer raves about the chocolate ice cream that hang on the wall. An excellent insight – you’re easily seduced!
- This insight unpacks another one: as a child you had an ongoing rivalry with an older sibling over which flavor was best, chocolate or strawberry. You believed chocolate was best because frozen strawberries were icy and hurt your teeth. Eureka! You’ve uncovered a hidden belief that unconsciously influences your behavior. Now you’re in the know.
- Acknowledge that you and only you step up to the counter and place your ice cream order. It’s your actions and behavior that are generating your reality, based on your emotions, thoughts and beliefs. Bingo! You’re in full ownership of your experience.
- Lastly, recognize that the best way to wind up with a vanilla cone in your hand is to order one. Perhaps you’ll write it down on a piece of paper, hand it to your server and say, Small Vanilla Ice Cream Cone, Please. Bam! You’re coherent, making aligned choices and taking action.
You are manifest reality
All the spiritual affirmations, laws of the Universe, theories of manifestation amount to nothing without self-reflection, self-responsibility, ownership and concrete action based on coherent choices. Hanging out in a spiritual ivory tower does not translate to manifest reality without concurrently incorporating the physical, emotional and mental work, too.
Spiritual bypass does not buy you a pass. Of course, life is not as simple as vanilla or chocolate. I know this is true. Yet it’s easier, richer and more spiritual to take the embodied path. Do the work. Cultivate your spiritual awareness and anchor it into your life through your beliefs, thoughts, emotions, choices and actions.