Beyond Spiritual Bypass

{ Artist: Susan Sedon Boulet }

{ Artist: Susan Sedon Boulet }

Resistance to spiritual growth can take the form of a spiritual by-pass and psychological resistance to our thoughts, feelings, intuitions and deeper spiritual truth.  Embodiment means being whole—experiencing your feelings, thoughts and subtle impressions here and now–in your body, and letting them move you to new insights, awareness, and behaviours.

Spiritual by-pass is a term coined by transpersonal psychologist John Welwood.   In his article Principles of Innerwork, Psychological and Spiritual, Welwood describes three common traps when we begin to open spiritually. . .and all three can act as barriers to intuition by distorting our perception.

1. Mental By-Pass: ‘In your head’—a belief that the spiritual world is ‘better’
2. Spiritual By-Pass: Psuedo-detachment. (This is not the same as ‘non-attachement.  It is a way you avoid doing your personal and emotional work by disociating or pretending to be ‘above’ it.)
3. Emotional By-Pass: Over-processing of emotions. (Getting stuck in, or ‘addicted’ to the intensity of your feelings)

Spiritual by-pass is full of shadows.  AND, it is common to confront the ‘shadow’ when ever we go into unknown territory.  As we find our way through, we are able to mine precious gems and hidden resources found beneath the surface of our ordinary awareness, deep in the ground of being .

Take note:

Which are your favorite forms or resistance?

How do you find your way beyond the resistance?

How do you know when you are on the other side?


After one of our Embodied Awareness seminars, one participant, a corporate Coach, shared gratitudes with the class as she shared what she had learned about herself and her relationship to resistance:

“I want to convey a real sense of gratitude for the reflections from each of you today. I have had a real movement through my resistance.

I have danced with my resistance gnome for awhile. I really felt like instead of feeling, “Overpower! Overcome! Annihilate!  I feel like I can now live with my resistance–and it’s always going to hang around–but that’s not going to stop me from moving forward. . . .

Kinesthetic impressions have helped me make resistance a partner, rather than battle it – big move today- Oh my Gosh! I can live with this – not like a disease live with it – sort of like you’re going to live in my little back pack for awhile, like a little gremlin. That’s ok!  I can share partnership with my resistance.

It keeps me aware.
It keeps me in the trenches.
It reminds me what others may be up against.

{Artist: Brian Froud}

{Artist: Brian Froud}