The Obstacles


Obstacles get in our way, slow us down, interrupt our progress and, depending on our mood can “grind our gears” or “harsh our mellow.” And, they seem to be everywhere.

Other people (traffic, lines, phone calls, tantrums,) the weather, technology, furniture, fatigue, pathogens… all of these might also show up on your list of obstacles. They get the blame and we fall their victim. Click here to link to a previous post about the “difficult person.”

Apparently, obstacles have been around for a long time, even before technology and traffic jams. The yoga sutras were written thousands of years ago and outline the path of human experience with startling relevance and insight. The two below outline what is common.

Sutra II.3 aSu

Sutra II.3

avidya asmita raga dvesa abhinivesah klesah

The five obstacles, also known as afflictions or troubles, are lack of wisdom, a sense of separateness, attachment to pleasure, aversion to pain and clinging to life.

Sutra 1.30

vyadhi styana samsaya pramada alasya avirati bhrantidarasana alabdhabhumikatva anavasthitatvani cittaviksepah te antarayah

There are physical, mental, intellectual and spiritual obstacles which may distract consciousness. They are disease, lack of perseverance, doubt, pride, laziness, sense gratification, delusion, and a lack of commitment.

These afflictions and obstacles are the source of our suffering. They may be active, intermittant, or dormant and can be pleasant or unpleasant. The point is that they disturb our sustained loving awareness and prevent realization of what may be described as the eternal bliss of complete absorption.

Awareness of these obstacles, willingness to acknowledge, and, language to describe them, can help to restore and strengthen the connection between our conscious intention and subconscious motivation.

To practice working with the obstacles, start with avidya. It means “not seeing.” It may also be understood as innocence, ignorance or lack of wisdom. It suggests that our efforts to better understand our experience will clear the path to awareness. Use your senses, ask questions, use words, images and colors to describe sensations. Talk, write, listen, read, look around. Expose yourself to various perspectives, opinions, climates, postures.

Be especially curious about extremes. If it “feels awesome” or “feels awful” or if you are convinced that you (or someone else) is “awful” or “awesome,” consider the alternative and see what you find.

A connection is likely there. Compassion may flourish there.

Perseverance, patience, perspective and poise are available to us. We must practice. That which we practice becomes embedded. These states of being become traits of longtime practitioners.

The Sutras are a brilliant guide to support us on our way. I am so grateful to have received them from my teacher and to pass them on to you. If you want to learn more, please register for my on-line course where we’ll walk through the sutras together.

Click here to link to the course. And, linger a while on what you’re seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and feeling today…

Truly seeing you for the complex and complete being that you are and so touched by our connection,

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