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Spiritual Bypassing; Grounding Bypassing and the Optimum State in Between

21 November 2013

Key concepts: Spiritual Bypassing; Grounding Bypassing; Body Scan; Emotions as Information; Equine Facilitated Learning; personal boundaries; somatic awareness; emotional congruency; Eponaquest. 

A common state many folk who take the spiritual and personal development path fall into is that of “Spiritual Bypassing”.

Striving to “let go” of any unpleasant and uncomfortable emotions, physical sensations and recollection of past wounds no matter what. 

A variation on this is something else that seems to go hand-in-hand for such people, what I call “Grounding Bypassing”. This is the desire to simply “get grounded” no matter what their body and emotions are telling them; sometimes very loudly! 

Often people take up spiritual practices, meditation, yoga, Reiki, etc, and suddenly feel loads better. Don’t get me wrong, I love all of these things and they do make you feel better; undoubtedly. However, the danger comes, as I said above, when it enables people to short-cut their deeper, inner-process through bypassing key, repressed emotions, experiences and wounds. 

When Linda Kohanov began working with people with her horses immediately following the explosion of interest in equine facilitated human development, and the publication of her international, best-selling book, The Tao of Equus, she attracted many “New Age” type people. Very quickly her horses reacted quite strongly to these people, either by showing aggression or plain avoidance. 

I too witnessed this many times when I began my Equine Facilitated Learning (EFL) practise. Usually my horses would simply nod-off to sleep in such a client’s presence, or in the case of my “take no shit gelding”, North Star, he’d pin his ears and clearly tell them to stay well away. 


  • Because when bypassing your core bodily sensations and therefore your underlying, true emotional state in that moment, you float out of you body, leaving an empty, virtually invisible shell standing in front of the horse. This is not a being a horse can engage with, it feels very unsafe to them, as it does to people the more conscious they become of this state. 
  • Equally, when you “get yourself grounded”, without getting the message or emotion behind  a sensation, you again bypass core somatic sensations and feelings, and again the horses experience that person as invisible; not fully there.  
  • Experiencing both of these states time and time again in the presence of the horses, led me to fully believe that being in your body, and therefore, connected to your real emotional state, no matter how uncomfortable leads to presence, grounded-ness (note the irony there) and a deep sense of connectedness, or “oneness” (again note the irony, the exact state so many spiritual believers are in fact seeking). 
  • Resulting in a fully engaged and connected horse and a deep sense of relief, relaxation in the fully grounded, emotionally congruent person standing in front of them. 

For equestrians, this state is of huge importance in undertaking their daily tasks with their horse, it makes life 100% easier, safer and more enjoyable with your equine friend. As it equally does in the rest of life when dealing with two-legged folk, partners, children, colleagues, bosses, etc. 

The Eponaquest techniques I teach including the Body Scan; the Messages behind Emotions; personal boundaries and embodying your heart’s desire all lead to such a state.  

Simply by breathing into a sensation, getting the message behind it, allowing it to dissipate in its own time and way, and acknowledging your pain and vulnerability result in a positive response from the horses. And, a hugely healing moment, that can never be undone, for the person. 

These, simple key tools can benefit anyone and which can be applied to all areas of life whether in the presence of horses or not. 

© Angela Dunning, 21st November 2013

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