Illness and Spiritual Bypassing
Hello, grounded friends,
I deal a lot with "Illness Bypassing" in my life. As someone living with an autoimmune illness that has not responded easily to standard and holistic treatments and lifestyle shifts, I have observed and been the recipient of all sorts of spiritual bypassing in regards to illness.
Coined by psychotherapist, John Welwood, "spiritual bypassing" is the act of using spiritual practices, beliefs, philosophies, and platitudes as a means to bypass an authentic, human experience. Specifically in regards to illness, spiritual bypassing can be observed when spiritual followers use their beliefs and practices to engage in misplaced blame, shame, or avoidance around illness.
While Illness-Related Spiritual Bypassing most certainly does occur within traditional religions, my focus in this article is on spiritual bypassing practices within the New Age, metaphysical, spiritual community.
There are all sorts of (very popular) FALSE spiritual beliefs about illness:
1.) Through the Law of Attraction, we create our own reality, therefore, if you are sick, you must have caused it through faulty thinking. This is THE law of the Universe and there is no other way.
2.) Illness itself is low vibration. Illness cannot exist in a high vibration, therefore, if you are experiencing illness, logic dictates that you must be a low vibration person.
3.) Even spiritual people get sick sometimes, but when they do, they heal quickly and with beauty and grace. If someone's healing process is messy or evades recovery, the person clearly has unhealed trauma they have not yet addressed. Or, they are emotionally attached to their illness and don't really want to get well.
4.) By practicing positive thinking, BELIEVING ourselves to be well, and surrounding ourselves with a positive environment, we can heal anything. With these practices, we can eradicate any illness, disease, or condition, and even rewrite our DNA. The study of epigenetics says so. Author, Louise Hay says so. Dr. Bruce Lipton says so. Thousands upon thousands of (bypassing) spiritual seekers say so. Therefore, it must be true. The only reason you are ill is because you believe that illness exists. If you would just STOP believing in the existence of illness, you would become well. If you are still sick, you are clearly doing it wrong, not spiritually-evolved, and not properly applying the spiritual principles here.
5.) Despite the fact that innumerable high-vibration spiritual teachers and holy people have gotten ill, suffered, and even died through the history of humanity, it is more comfortable to believe that high-vibration "spiritually evolved" people do not get sick. (And if they do, they heal quickly, and have an inspiring story to tell afterward.)
In holding to these distorted beliefs, we can feel good separating ourselves from anyone experiencing illness.
Wearing our "spiritual Hazmat suit", we can keep a comfortable, safe distance from any of those messy human experiences that might make us uncomfortable. We can rest in our belief that we are better and more spiritually evolved than the sick person, therefore, from our lofty spiritual position, we can feel safe knowing that illness could never touch us. Coming to terms with our own human frailty and potential for illness would be too terrifying, therefore, we bypass the truth. White knuckled, we cling to our spiritual "truths" within our false bubble of safety.
Well, I've got news for all of us.
Illness can happen to ANYONE on the planet, regardless of gender, race, color, creed, spiritual practice, beliefs, etc.
Yes, that can be scary. But, it is part of our authentic human experience.
Yes, we are powerful beings.
But, we are also frail.
Illness can happen to anyone. And death happens to us ALL.
So, let's remember to have grounded compassion for those in our world who may be experiencing illness. In reality, you are no different than them. You could be them. It's true. So, count your blessings. Rather than using one's spirituality as a means of separation, and escaping from authentic humanity, let's remember to practice empathy and loving, compassionate presence.
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P.S. My intent for this post is simply to help educate those who may have taken on beliefs taught to them through their well-meaning spiritual teachers or friends, not knowing that that the above beliefs can be utilized in very unhelpful, unhealthy ways. If you'd like to learn more about the concept of "spiritual bypassing" which I mention a few time above, click this link.