John Welwood’s classic book “Toward a Psychology of Awakening” defines spiritual bypassing as a "tendency to use spiritual ideas and practices to sidestep or avoid facing unresolved emotional issues, psychological wounds, and unfinished developmental tasks".
At a time when there is so much unrest in our world and so much uncertainty around us, spiritual practices shouldn’t be used to avoid our painful feelings or detach us from what really matters. Instead authentic spirituality should help us face our grief and our pain and give us tools to work through our struggles. Spiritual practices don’t help us avoid the messiness of life or transcend the human condition, but they can help us navigate difficult times.
Spiritual bypassing is about checking out, rather than checking in.
In his book Spiritual Bypassing: When Spirituality Disconnects Us From What Really Matters (North Atlantic Books, 2010), Robert Augustus Masters lists the symptoms of spiritual bypassing: “…exaggerated detachment, emotional numbing and repression, overemphasis on the positive, anger-phobia. 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 or shadow side, devaluation of the personal relative to the spiritual, and delusions of having arrived at a higher level of being.”
Spiritual growth is a life-long process. At its core spirituality helps us discover, explore and live out of our deepest values and meanings so we can live our best lives.
Hope you'll join us on this messy journey we call life!