A New View on Obstacles

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Every day this week I have been ruminating on obstacles.  (Not a new subject for me, read more thoughts on reframing here!)  This morning, I had a miscommunication with our future landlords that threatened to send our plans reeling and my emotions collapsing into worn out tears.  This week I have to manage a busy schedule that doesn’t allow for the resetting time I want (let alone all the studies I ambitiously hoped to get in).  Last week included missing out on a friend’s big event.  Everyday we get closer to moving is a goodbye, a closed door, a reminder of the new effort needed to start again.  I could see all these things as attacks from the universe, more than I can handle, and unfair.  I could see these events as nuisances in between me and my desires and goals.  I could go at these roadblocks with a bulldozer… OR consider them differently.

Most mornings I am practicing sitting with my obstacles.  I do my best to remove that label.  I am considering them ‘in the way’.  What if they are just facts.  Words spoken.  Decisions made.  The reality of location and distance in my life and relationships.  So I practice holding these events in my mind as just the facts.  Just the things as they could be described by any onlooker.  And I wait.  I let these things unfold a little.  I don’t tease them apart, but with a little patience they begin to open up (not unlike the peonies lavishly unfurling on my street).  I realize that people I’m talking to are just doing their job as they know how – and usually distracted by their own lives and full of their own emotional goings ons.  The woman on the phone isn’t intentionally blocking my way.  My husband and coworkers and my life aren’t all colluding together to make my days chaotic and confusing.  My friend isn’t happy that I’m not around, even though I can make that up in my head.

If I just begin to let the petals of the facts open up… well, first the emotions get to let go.  I don’t feel as charged with anger, fear, or hurt.  I just see life happening.  There is space there.  And then I can consider other ways that this situation is adding to my life, consider what I can learn about myself.  My conversation with the landlords gives me space to acknowledge that I easily feel like people are out to get me.  I feel like I want to be in control and my control is fragile.  Here, I get (HAVE) to let go of ‘my way’ and learn TRUST (oh, how awful this is to learn…) that the universe, that life, that my intentions for good are moving things along.  AND, that I can handle whatever comes my way if I keep hold of love.  In my overdone week, I get to see how my decisions are motivated by pleasing others and learn that when saying ‘yes’ feels like a ‘should’ and comes from an attempt to bolster appreciation and value that I come to regret it.  With enough observations of this, I’m sure to learn to say those ‘yes-es’ less often!  When I feel sad that I’m far away from those I love I can see all the love I have, consider other ways to show it, and appreciate that other humans are around my friends to share the love and support I have.

Lots of times I still choose the bulldozer first.  So, I’m practicing.  When the plane is late.  When the price isn’t what I thought it was.  When my dog wants to go another way on my walk.  When all my emails are to-dos that suddenly spring up.  When all my emotions and life circumstances seem to be “in the way”… I’m learning to see them instead as just events.  Just facts.  Just space to consider something else.  To consider who I am in my reactions, who I want to be, and how I can love in bigger ways that I imagined at first.   What a beautiful invitation to being human.

As my teacher, Christina Sell says,

“My personal belief is that we must know- in a very clear and precise way- the patterns of our thinking and how they will attempt to sabotage us and our self-worth and our joy. And when we know this, we gain some mastery over the patterns rather than they simply being the master of us… I personally do not ever expect the patterns’ voices to go away. I really don’t. Although sometimes they do. Nor do I find it that helpful to fight them as they are wily, smart and long-enduring. I think of them like a muscle. When the pattern is strong it is like a muscle in spasm. It has all of our attention. But when it is not activated, not fed, put in its place, so to speak, it is just a muscle like any other muscle. I mean really, do you think much about your triceps muscle when it is not sore?”

May we learn to keep those spasms down in the face of daily life.

As I sit with my daily obstacles, I chant the mantra, “Ohm Shri Ganeshaya Namaha”.  This has been helpful to get my mind to relax around the issue.  What do you do to help you see into your obstacles?  Dealing with obstacles in life isn’t an easy thing…how do you focus on yourself in the midst of chaos?  How do you work to see these obstacles as the way to different paths, as opposed to a blocking point in the path that you desired?