It’s been a long time since I’ve heard the phrases, “My body is my temple,” and, “Good things come to those who wait,” uttered. This is not terribly surprising in a world that has largely ditched the concept of God. If social media and the news are accurate representations of our era, even those who profess such an allegiance fall far short of the compassion, love and forgiveness for which God theoretically stands.
On the other hand, what I have heard is people blindly chant trite mantras like, “I believe in science.” To them, I ask, “Which science? Chemistry? Biology? Astral? Physics? Archeology?” Rarely does the answer indicate familiarity with any of the sciences.
This, in my opinion, is a form of spiritual bypassing. And spiritual bypassing is a favorite tool of cult leaders. In other words, if God was the old cult, the human intellect — i.e. science — is the new one as to question, course correct or point out any contradiction becomes heresy, worthy of persecution.
Body hacking, sometimes referred to as ‘biohacking,’ fits in comfortably with this mindset. While the term doesn’t have one clear-cut definition, the idea of “hacking” the body moves it from a complex system with its own innate wisdom to repair itself, when given the right tools, to a simplistic organism, hell-bent on self-destruction only to be overcome by the rational mind of man. This alone is a dangerous prospect given that modern science, as we know it, is still in its infancy with less than 200 years under its belt.
What Is Spiritual Bypassing?
The psychotherapist John Welwood coined the term ‘spiritual bypassing,’ defining it as “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.” The end result becomes avoidance and repression. Instead of inspiring the intellect to seek wisdom, it whittles life’s challenges down to sound bytes, preferring distraction to intimate knowledge.
I can’t help but blame movies such as The Secret, which trivialize the message that, “What you focus on expands,” for the rise in this phenomenon. While it was an excellent movie, too many people believed the takeaway message to be, “Sit on your duff thinking about getting random checks in the mail.” As I recall, nowhere in the movie do they explicitly tell viewers to take action on the steps that will lead to a desired goal. No wonder so many people fall for diet pills and better health in zero minutes a day-type programs.
In religious terms, it would be Dana Carvey’s Church Lady’s invocation of Satan (Saturday Night Live circa 1990) as the excuse for every social ill and the behaviors of others while ignoring her own haughty self-righteousness. Spiritual bypassing in all its forms serves to shut down conversation, not nurture rational discussion. It is ignoring the complexity of life to shove a simplified, convenient, often self-serving narrative down someone’s throat.
Spiritual bypassing is an enabler of laziness, even sloth. It is parroting the lingo without setting a good example. It is telling people they don’t need to do the work to get the results they want. It is ignoring inconvenient truths that allow people to live in their own fantasy worlds, where the world conforms to them, instead of them addressing irrefutable truths head on. When it inevitably fails, it blames someone or something outside itself for being weak willed or morally inept.
What Does This Have to Do with Body Hacking?
If the conventional diet industry is disingenuous in that it tells you to eat copious amounts of foods that will ruin your health (such as six servings of grains per day and zero fat), the concept of body hacking (that you don’t really need to do the work to get the results) has disempowered the public even more. This idea of ‘hacking’ the body sends people the message that bypassing the body’s natural processes in order to achieve a particular goal is the only solution. Hacking completely ignores possible underlying conditions such as hypothyroidism, polycystic ovary syndrome, adrenal exhaustion or any number of common problems that, if appropriately addressed, would allow many other health concerns to fall into place.
The person who believes that good health is “just eating organic” is one type of body hacker, who doesn’t reach their goals. This is where many people begin their journey to fixing a broken diet, but sadly too many stall out here believing that the organic version of Cheetos are actually nutritious. Details such as carb load, powered cheese and extrusion are inconvenient and therefore worthy of being ignored.
An obese woman recently explained to me that her $200/week supplement program required no change in dietary habits. All she had to do is drink a one-size-fits-all shake three times a day. She was convinced that this time — after 20 years of similar hands-off programs, and multiple surgeries — she would finally lose the weight.
This woman was also a self-styled expert in one supplement that she used to treat every ailment. It’s no wonder that in addition to being grossly overweight, she suffered from constantly stuffed nasal passages, joint aches, terrible fatigue and excessive laziness amongst other complaints. It was an inconvenient fact to note that her wonder drug did not address any of these problems, but likely contributed to them, as it did not get rid of any underlying factors. Although the shakes artificially removed a bit of excess bloating in the first few months, they also ultimately failed.
These examples are perhaps innocent enough, as they are simply another version of switching from cane sugar to artificial sweeteners or buying all your food from prepackaged programs such as Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers. Yet they still trivialize the struggle, reducing the science of weight loss and wellness to buzzwords.
This kind of reductionist thinking sets a horrible precedent. Besides sending the message that all we have to do is plop down more money to get what we want, they usually don’t work. The result is the acceptance of ideologies that view the human body as a flawed system that is always trying to kill itself and food that requires lab engineering to make it more suitable for good health.
This, in turn, leads to the more sinister side of body hacking, called eugenics. Eugenics takes on many faces.
One of the more dangerous ones are predicated upon inherent flaws of so-called undesirable populations such as Blacks, Jews, the disabled, the poor, the intellectually challenged, the unvaccinated, or the obese. These supposed flaws not only legitimize ostracization by society, but outright segregation, inhumane treatment and even extermination have been invoked to remove the supposed threat these people represent.
Another potentially dangerous side to eugenics spills over into hacking our actual biology. This is what some may call true biohacking. This can range from the use of hyberbaric oxygen chambers and infrared light therapy — which may actually be helpful in some circumstances — to normalizing a wide array of insertion of microchips and cyborg technologies in the body to pay for goods and services or change our DNA. The latter should give us pause, particularly once coercion, threats and mandates become acceptable options.
If people want to experiment with these technologies, that is their choice. Choice is the operative word here.
I didn’t buy the first iPhone that came to market, knowing that technology always falls way short of expectations during its first iteration. Even subsequent versions have had issues, but at least I was aware of the pitfalls going in and at worst the repercussions would be the loss of a few phone numbers. That’s a far cry from the potential problems induced by inserting transmitters under one’s skin. #justsayin
How to Stop This Moving Train
None of these scams and worrisome technologies would even exist, if we stopped trying to bypass the work needed to achieve the basic health we claim to want. Our ancestors knew that good health was an ongoing process. Whether they were allowed access to good food, water and shelter, for example, is a separate issue.
Today, we erroneously believe we not only can, but must entrust the process to someone or something outside ourselves. The problem is that the answer is never truly out there. The answer is in what we are prepared to do. In the immortal words of nutrition pioneer, Hazel Parcells,
If you want to be healthy, trade your wishbone for a tailbone and get to work!Hazel Parcells
Stop trying to bypass the work. Learn about your body. Learn about nutrition. Observe what has worked and what has not. Be brutally honest about your results. Don’t listen to anyone who would discourage you from learning more. Read history. Then read the opposite history. Recall your personal past. Consider the past of your friends and family. Reframe that past with your new knowledge. Ask yourself some hard questions. Peek behind the veil. Challenge your preconceived thoughts. Be fearless in discovering something new.
Put another way, practice the scientific method.