Today’s world. Not many would argue it’s bizarre. It seems that everyone is trying so hard to distinguish themselves today. We are in an instagram “look at me” revolution.

It seems to me, we’ve been glorifying our differences for far too long, and that it is contributing to our breakdown. Granted there are populations, mostly oppressed for centuries, who still need to be empowered through difference. But in a more encompassing “we’re all human” way, I think there’s a point at which individuation becomes self-obsession.

For example, today, I came across a post in which someone claimed that everybody who isn’t, according to her, “trauma-informed”, is just spiritual bypassing. She went on to recommend certain teachers, many of which I myself sometimes take inspiration from. I didn’t have a problem with her message, in general. There’s no question (well, apparently there IS a question if people still have to bring it up in the first place) that we cannot forego our shadow work and expect to healed.

But there’s another side to that story. “Trauma-informed” can often turn into “victim-enabling”. When we coddle the psychologies of those who have suffered and tip-toe around true responsibility with things like “trigger warnings”, we’re still not doing any favors. That too is a trap as “trappy” as any that will freeze us on our path by spiritually bypassing. It is ironic, is it not, that without fail, the very thing we see in others is always pointing to what we fail to see in ourselves.

Both of these “sides” are valid. Both. It’s not either/or. It’s and. But what is more relevant is “what serves the person NOW?”

Some people aren’t ready to dig into their shadows. (Just take a look around.) Others just need to wallow in their wounds for awhile. (Again, just take a look around). And that’s okay too. But hopefully, at some point, that will be outgrown and something deeper and truer will take hold. What I’ve found, is that people who tend to get stuck in the fear/trauma cycle tend to think those that have moved through it have done so by bypassing. It’s a projection. That’s not to say that spiritual bypassing doesn’t exist. Of course it does. It’s everywhere…even in some very unexpected places. Nor does it imply that victims don’t exist or are the result of their own choices. I too cringe when I hear the spiritually brainwashed claim, “They chose that.” “They” the person, certainly did NOT, even if some more intelligent, higher dimension soul did, and pointing that out is useless and hurtful.

I think as healers, yoga teachers, counselors, guides, lightworkers, we all need to be aware and far more sensitive to the fact that we may resonate with certain messages at certain times and that not everyone can or should join us there. We don’t have to make others wrong to make ourselves right, wise, or enlightened. For a simple example, some people want yoga to be a purely physical instagram challenge. Others want to focus on the embodiment aspects of yoga. Some want to break down movement into more functional use. It’s ALL brilliant! It suits who it suits. We need to remain cognizant of the fact that truths are relative. If we happen to have done a lot of work and can embrace a higher truth, it is essential we not forget what it was like before we could. I personally admit to failing in this arena for most of my life. I often transcended by exclusion instead of inclusion.

But this isn’t just about the various paths that are available. Embracing the “and” also applies to our own inner experiences. I can be totally sad and crying my eyes out AND be grateful for my life. I can absolutely hate myself AND be tender and compassionate toward myself. I can dislike someone AND wish them well. I can detest how someone else lives AND encourage them to live it fully.

I can listen to someone on one side of the political arena and say “you have a point” and turn around and listen to someone on the other side of the arena and say, “you have a point too!”

So in summary, when we can open ourselves to paradox, to dancing when we’re miserable, laughing when we’re grieving, loving when we’re hating, deeper truths are revealed. When we can allow others to be who they are where they are with what they are, we free ourselves to move beyond. To me, that is way more important that being right or different or popular or even visible.

It’s time to start embracing the power of “and”.