Original innocence is our true nature. It is who we are before we internalize conditioned limiting beliefs that tell us we are not good enough or broken in some way. We all lose touch with the truth of who we are and we get to have this human experience to help us remember.
Original innocence is who we are pre-trauma and psychological issues, and if I want to heal on the mental and emotional levels, looking in the direction of the truth of who I am is the solution. Healing is the natural byproduct of remembering my essence of love. Coming into resonance with the experiential knowing of that feeling of love within me is therapeutic and ripples out into my nervous system. It changes my perceptions and my experience of life and my behaviors are naturally impacted.
Spiritual solutions to emotional pain and suffering, however, can be misunderstood as spiritual bypassing. John Welwood, psychotherapist and author, defined spiritual bypassing, in his book, Toward a Psychology of Awakening as using “spiritual ideas and practices to sidestep personal, emotional ‘unfinished business,’ to shore up a shaky sense of self, or to belittle basic needs, feelings, and developmental tasks.” Spiritual bypassing is not, however, the product of authentic spiritual teaching. It is an ego defense mechanism that co-opts spiritual practice as a way to avoid feelings of shame and unworthiness. I did this myself for many years.
In my mid-twenties, I found myself in a lot of psychological pain. One of the ways I found respite was in my yoga and meditation practice. This was my first recognition that I could have an experience of myself beyond my thoughts and feelings -- an expanded sense of self where I felt peace and love. I was also attending therapy at the time, and the main benefit I got from that was having another human being present with me and accepting me with all of my messiness. Their groundedness and emotional regulation helped to regulate me.
However, over the years my spiritual exploration became co-opted by a self-improvement mindset, and rather than it simply being about awakening to presence in the moment no matter what I was experiencing, it became about practicing techniques to get me to experience more bliss. That was my ego co-opting my spiritual practice as a way to try and rid myself of emotional suffering. I used techniques to try and get me out of my human experience. I thought there was a loophole I could use to avoid the pain.
Fortunately, where my spiritual exploration took me was back to the present moment and to the inescapable nature of my humanity. This helped me to surrender to what is and get off the self-help bandwagon. My entry point for this was through my relationship.
Spiritual By-Pass in Relationships
In relationships, spiritual bypassing can look like one or both members of the relationship taking a perceived elevated stance, that is actually an arrogant position of superiority. Thinking, “I am better than you because I am more enlightened than you. I’m beyond your level of consciousness. I don’t get caught up in my human emotions the way you do.”
I know this position first hand, and see how it was my best attempt to cover up feelings of insecurity and fear of feeling all of my emotional experience. I didn’t want to be the angry one or the vulnerable one. I needed to be the superior one in order to feel safe. This played out in painful ways in my relationship with Angus, and our relationship was my greatest teacher in terms of waking up from these misunderstandings in my consciousness. My relationship helped me to see how my perceptions create my experience, and that my nature is peace and love so it can’t be taken away from me.
It was very humbling when I woke up to the blind spot of how my anger manifested as criticism, arrogance, and shutting down. It was painful to see how judgmental and unloving I had been all under the guise of spiritual maturity. But really it was just a plain old fashioned coping mechanism for emotional insecurity. I am better these days at owning my human frailties and accepting my emotions such as anger. Vulnerability is still a stretch, but one I appreciate as a growing edge. I don’t need to fix it or change it. It will unfold naturally.
My spiritual journey is a beautiful one, and it includes all of me. It includes my thoughts, feelings, and physiology. My spiritual nature is not separate from my humanity. They are one and the same. They are different expressions of the one source. They are all part of my original innocence.
Returning to original innocence is not the same as spiritual by-pass. It is raw, vulnerable and liberating. It is not a defense mechanism, but a stripping away of defense mechanisms and returning to the truth within. When we experience this we can’t help but be transformed. Perhaps not in the ways that we hoped for or expected, but in the ways that make sense for our healing and awakening in consciousness.
Rohini Ross is co-founder of “The Rewilders.” Listen to her podcast, with her partner Angus Ross, Rewilding Love. They believe too many good relationships fall apart because couples give up thinking their relationship problems can’t be solved. In this season of the Rewilding Love Podcast, Rohini and Angus help a couple on the brink of divorce due to conflict. Angus and Rohini also co-facilitate private couples' intensives that rewild relationships back to their natural state of love. Rohini is also the author of the ebook Marriage, and she and Angus are co-founders of The 29-Day Rewilding Experience and The Rewilding Community. You can follow Rohini on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To learn more about her work and subscribe to her blog visit: TheRewilders.org.