If you have been on the spiritual path for a while you may be familiar with the term “spiritual bypass.” Originally coined by transpersonal psychologist John Welwood in the 1980s, this term refers to a “tendency to use spiritual ideas and practices to sidestep or avoid facing unresolved emotional issues, psychological wounds, and unfinished developmental tasks.”
Spiritual bypass is a common term in spiritual and energetic healing communities because spiritual beliefs and concepts do not always include the processing or healing of wounds, which can be necessary to integrate the spiritual and human experience of life. Spiritual bypass refers to the long-term process of staying in spiritual highs and avoiding the healing of past wounds. The term has also been used to polarize or shame people, when in fact, it points to a common denominator in most human beings, which is the ability to process painful history in the body or trauma.
I am an intuitive energy healer, teacher of intuition, author, and founder of the School of Intuitive Studies. Here is a perspective on what spiritual bypass looks like from an energetic perspective in the body, and how to embrace our healing without wronging or shaming someone for spiritually bypassing, which is ultimately a protection mechanism.
In this explanation from an energetic perspective, I’ll be addressing the chakras, which are power centers within our bodies carrying history and soul information about living this human experience. Specifically, I will address the split between the upper chakras and the lower chakras. The upper chakras include the heart chakra, throat chakra, third eye chakra, and crown chakra, and become dwelling places for our soul to stay in connection with spiritual life. The lower chakras include the root chakra, sacral chakra, and solar plexus chakra and house immense information on our humanity, including how we survive, how we are in a relationship with others, emotions, ego, and how we navigate our social environment, just to name a few characteristics.
From an energetic perspective, spiritual bypassing means a person’s energy is highly concentrated in the upper chakras of the body and is less connected to the lower chakras. This is extremely common these days because we live in a world where there is a lot of trauma in the collective and in our personal histories, which can store as energy in our lower body to process when we are ready. The lower chakras relate to our humanity and being grounded in this life. The upper chakras open and we become more integrated within our human experience as we heal our lower body wounds.
The term spiritual bypassing can coincide with shame and shaming. Phrases like “this person is spiritually bypassing,” or “this person is so ungrounded.” While it can be uncomfortable to be around someone who is ungrounded or living in “love and light” and disconnected from empathy or authenticity, the truth is, there is so much trauma that exists in the lower chakra system that the soul protects itself by dwelling in higher realms in the body to escape the trauma and humanity.
The chakras are domains of consciousness. This means when we tune into them, the consciousness of that chakra provides information to us. So for example, if I close my eyes and meditate for 10 minutes in my root chakra, most likely I will feel heavier, settled, perhaps become very tired, and maybe even get connected with some heavier emotions like fear. This is the nature of the root chakra and it houses immense history and conditioning that would take commitment to unpack. If I were to meditate for 10 minutes on my third eye chakra, I might get in touch with higher knowing, higher guidance, light, visions, and spiritual perspectives. This is the power of the third eye center. I would have a different experience in my body by tuning in and meditating on a different power center in my body. For some, it can feel safer to dwell in the lighter or higher consciousness of the body, as opposed to feeling unprocessed emotions that can store in the lower body and have a heavier consciousness. This lends to spiritual bypass.
It’s very easy to be in spiritual bypass in the world we live in today. Many people live in spiritual bypass in some form, simply because of technology addiction, how much information we take in and normalized conditioning around shame. We live in a system built on control and projection without emphasis on taking responsibility for emotions, behaviors, or having empathy. The world we live in, including spiritual communities, operates in a deeply ingrained system of avoiding trauma and systemic issues that are normalized, and therefore avoiding the first three chakras of the body. It’s harder work to be vulnerable, to take responsibility, face fears, apologize, and accept when we’ve made mistakes. It’s also harder work to go even deeper and heal the wounds held in the lower body that continue to reenact in day-to-day life. This is the deeper consciousness in the body we are being asked to take responsibility for in order to see experience true transformation.
Spiritual seeking is often guided by our souls calling for deeper understanding and connection to the light within us. Sometimes, this takes us into spiritual communities or into conversations to help awaken that light, but the journey is always a shedding process. It’s always going to include processing the fears, the beliefs, and the inter-generational traumas that we live and breathe in the cells of our body unconsciously. We are learning that what we hold shame about in our cultural, racial, familial, and personal histories is the very doorway we need to walk through for our greatest spiritual evolution and growth.
The upper chakras naturally open as we move into our senior years, and as we do, we have the opportunity to reconcile with our past and embrace the legacy and meaning of our life. At the end of life, our souls exit through our crown chakras and unify with higher consciousness. Many people have this out of the body, upper chakra, or spiritual experiences with lots of time left in this life. But how we heal spiritual bypass energetically is by learning how to bring the divine light above into the lower chakras so our souls sit more deeply in all the chakras of the body. This could be uncomfortable initially because it has us feeling what we may have been protecting ourselves from. I think of this energetic action as loving ourselves through all that makes us human instead of fearing or shaming those parts of ourselves. Taking a deep seat in our bodies is the ultimate integration of our soul in this human experience.
It could take lifetimes to heal, process, clear, or let go of energy held in the first three chakras of the body so the soul can embody in those centers. Because of this, spiritual bypassing can be a coping mechanism that keeps the soul higher in the body because the pain, shame, and fear of facing those wounds and history is painful. It takes courage to be willing to do that work.
When we can have empathy for ourselves and our past experiences and can make room for shame and fear, our soul can melt into those lower chakras. We become more relatable, vulnerable, real, honest, and we can take responsibility for our part in the unfolding of life. The first step to stopping spiritual bypassing is to accept there is healing in the first three chakras of the body. The second step is to take responsibility for this and seek the support you may need for the old wounds, whether it is therapy, an energy healing approach or another modality. The third step is to love yourself through that process because you are human and you lived according to the tools you had at the time. Now you have new tools and an energetic framework to support how to become more grounded and connected to your humanity as a spiritual being.
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