January 2006 – Obstacles to Yoga

Obstacles to Yoga

Below are Obstacles not only to yoga but to any goal or resolution you have for the new year, as outlined in the sutras (sutra 1:30-31). They are common sense, being aware that you are “flirting” with an obstacle will help you avoid the obstacle.

  • Disease
  • Laziness
  • Doubt
  • Lack of interest
  • Lethargy
  • Clinging to sense enjoyment
  • Illusion, delusion, hallucination
  • Lack of concentration
  • Distractions

Other Distractions include:

  • Grief
  • Anxiety, worry
  • Restlessness
  • Erratic breathing

Sutra 1:32 How to overcome obstacles
Distractions disappear with a strong mind. Adherence to single minded effort, practicing concentration or meditation gives us the strength of mind we need to not let these obstacles stop our progress.

Keeping our minds serene are happy are not only the key to avoiding obstacles but also the keys to success and happiness. The sutras have recommendations for that too:
Sutra 1:33 Methods to keep mindstuff happy

  • Friendship and fellowship toward those who are happy
  • Great love and compassion toward those who are unhappy or suffering
  • Joy and entertainment toward those who are meritorious and virtuous
  • Neutrality and indifference toward those who are demeritorious or evil-natured

OR sutra 1:34 says breathing exercises are suggested to overcome obstacles and diseases; and to keep mindstuff serene and happy so that it becomes stable.

OR Sutra 1:35 says object centered meditation brings higher personality changes into mindstuff. The object you choose does have affect, for example; concentration on the tip of the nose improves sense of smell, concentration on the tip of the tongue improves taste and digestion, meditation of the middle tongue improves sense of touch, etc. (based on nerve endings not sense organ of meditation). Other explanations occur when one concentrates on the moon, the sun, planets, a candle flame, etc.

Development of self-confidence and emotional stability keeps us on our path. Methods to develop self-confidence:
Sutra 1:36
By meditation on a brilliant light in the 6th chakra (eyebrow center) or 7th chakra (crown of the head) mindstuff goes into higher changes. This personality change brings stability of mind and confidence in Self. This radiant light can not be perceived by beginners; hence they are advised to imagine this light either in the heart center or center of the head.

Sutra 1:37
By incorporating the qualities and virtues of a friend or authority figure that has positively controlled passions and obstacles one’s mindstuff becomes stable and one develops self-confidence. Examine carefully to find out how they overcame their problems and became great, follow their examples. Also, by reading works of liberated persons and knowing their methods of controlling their problems the student will know that he too can do the same. He will find his mind strengthened and encouraged. One should make the best use of problems for they really are opportunities.

Sutra 1:38
Know yourself and why you react as you do, the inner-workings of your mind. It is extremely difficult to examine chittam (mindstuff) objectively.
There are three states of mind:
1. conscious
2. subconscious
3. superconscious
The conscious plane of mind is examined during the waking state. The subconscious (or unconscious) mind can be examined by analysis of dreams and dreamless sleep. The superconscious mind is examined in Samadhi. When one is oriented to inner conditions of their mindstuff they can diagnose and treat them.

The final step to overcoming obstacles according to the sutras is Self Discipline. Keeping your mind stable with meditation is how you improve self discipline. We’ve discussed meditating on a breath, the light within, a great soul’s mind, or an experience from deep sleep. The next sutra makes things even easier for us:
(Sutra 1:39) Mindstuff reaches a stable state by meditating upon any object which appeals to us.
So choose any good object that appeals to you and “just do it”, no excuses.

To overcome your obstacles:

  • know your obstacles
  • keep your mindstuff serene and happy by:
    1. controlling your thoughts
    2. breathing exercises
    3. meditation
  • build your self confidence
    1. meditate
    2. find a guru or friend who has overcome their obstacles and learn what they did
    3. know thyself
  • Self discipline

With meditation, the idea is to get your attention in present time and learn to concentrate. Mediation is working to be present 24/7. It takes DISCIPLINE, FAITH, TENACITY, PERSEVERANCE, & CONSISTENCY.

Whenever our mind is fully present, our attention completely here, then our prana is fully present and we have the capacity to direct our energy to overcoming obstacles.

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