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Spiritual Bypassing - a personal reflection

Until recently I didn't know what Spiritual Bypassing meant.

I am reading an excellent book at the moment 'Bringing your shadow out of the dark' by psychospiritual teacher Robert Masters PhD.

In the book, he discusses how the spiritual community (and I include yoga in this general category) feels the need to always be seen to be upbeat and positive. You only have to look at various news feeds to see the uplifting quotes and to be honest I love them and share them all the time but that's not the whole story.

Being positive all the time is not the reality for a human being leading a spiritual life (and what does that even mean 'a spiritual life' - I think that's another topic for a blog I think!)

Dr Masters says: "The price we have paid for not examining our shadow in relation to our spirituality is enormous, leaving us divided and cut off from our full humanity, often associating being spiritual with being removed from or above everyday embodied life."

This whole subject has got me thinking ... although I am a great advocate of positive thinking and I buy in (to a certain extent) to the philosophy of the 'law of attraction', the reality of a person living in this world is not always positive.

I am coming to believe you need the dark, you need the shadow to be fully human, fully awake. The buddhists would say you need the mud for the lotus to grow (I do love that analogy) and that's been my personal experience.

This year with my husband leaving me and other endings, worries over finances and security all against the backdrop of a global pandemic, despite my yoga, meditation and self care strategies (nature, walks with friends, epson salt baths, singing and dancing to list a few!) I have been in some dark places. It's made me wonder if anything whether the spiritual practice just allows you to appreciate the 'tough times' are also impermanent and just as the joy doesn't and can't be relied on neither can the grief and despair.

And maybe that's where the real value of a spiritual practice lies, not in being falsely upbeat but in the understanding you are sitting in the mud of the lotus and 'this too shall pass'. It is but a moment in time, it is not your permanent reality (as there is no such thing!)

2020 has been such an illuminating year for me. I feel I have learnt so much about resilience, the joy of friendship, the tremendous value of gratitude but also more of an understanding and appreciation of the dark places of the shadow. The fears, the anxieties and grief are as much a part of me as the joy and hope. It is a year many of us won't forget in a hurry.

As we approach year end I am grateful I have the ability to feel everything - love, joy, passion, hope, despair, anger and grief. It's all part of me but I am not defined by those emotions and my spiritual practices just help me see that clearer.

Join me on the 16th January at 10am for my 'Yoga for good mental health' workshop where I will share some of strategies that I have used this year to help me with my personal challenges - you can book here.

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