For those of us on a spiritual path (and I believe all humans are, conscious or not), the road is filled with bright neon signs beckoning us to many variations of truth.

Some of them take us down truly helpful paths, and some of them take us down rabbit holes. And they can be huge, deep, “this feels so right, I’ve found my true path, OH NO, crap, how do I get out?!” rabbit holes.

I’ve been down a few of those.

Yes, on one level it’s all grist for the mill, and an opportunity to learn – or as someone cynically coined it, AFGO – another f*cking growth opportunity.

Many of those rabbit holes offer some form of the all love and light, just keep your vibes high, release-everything-that-doesn’t-serve-your-highest-good spirituality. But there’s a problem with that.

It’s neither true nor helpful. It causes a lot of heartache and anguish when we find ourselves vibing in sad, anxious, angry, all-is-lost ways, and blame ourselves for not “being better.” Or when it’s used as a weapon by those who believe they’ve taken the higher path and will get all the goodies by keeping their vibes high and light, and you’re somehow not as spiritually evolved. UGH.

If you’ve been on the receiving end of this, you know how icky it feels. Sad to say I’ve been on the delivery side and over time that doesn’t really feel any better.

When my father was dealing with a rare form of skin cancer, I thought “if only he’d eat differently! If only he’d deal with his emotional wounds from childhood!” I wanted him to use the juicer I offered to lend them. I wanted him to wake up to my point of view so he could reverse the course of his disease. Maybe it would, but then again maybe it would’ve made him even more miserable as he was dying.

When I met the man who became my husband, I loved that he went regularly to yoga classes but was a bit confounded that he wasn’t buying groovy yoga gear or wanting to talk about his practice. “It’s necessary” was all he’d say when asked. “I feel better when I go two or three times a week.” No talk about Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras or his chakras realigning. No interest in dissecting and sharing his inner experience. Huh?

I thought I knew better. I thought I was better.

More evolved, more spiritual, more educated, more…something.

What I eventually realized I was doing was creating separation and letting my ego take the wheel and guide me down some wrong roads.

I was engaging in a form of spiritual bypass rather than being in relationship to reality in its myriad flavors, nuances, and varieties.

Spiritual growth isn’t about being positive all the time (although there’s a place for focusing on the positive).

It isn’t about only high vibes and good feelings, or eating/thinking/doing all the “right” things.

It’s about learning to sit with tremendous compassion smack in the middle of seemingly opposing forces. Of breathing into the space between “let everything have its place” and “working towards my own deepening development into grace.”

It’s the journey of a lifetime. May you keep walking it with humility and humor.

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