As we discussed last time, walking Ganesh like to cross a street may not be your best option. Waiting for the walk light allows you to effortlessly cross the street. Developing a meditation practice also takes time – you can’t just one day say to yourself “I’m a meditator. I’m going to sit on the floor, close my eyes and become calm, relaxed, and enlightened and sit for three hours straight!” Also, being an elephant (or a bull in a china shop) may not always be the best method for removing obstacles. Is there another way?
When I was a kid, I wanted to climb a large bolder (we sometimes call these glacial erratics in these here parts!)
As a small child, climbing a large boulder was just out of my ability. I didn’t have the strength or balance to climb very far without falling. As I got older, I grew bigger and climbing a large boulder was doable. The obstacle could be conquered. I was now ready for the task.
Waiting or patience is a great way for conquering obstacles. Ask yourself, why do I have to overcome this obstacle today? What happens if I wait? What can I do to become better prepared? Patience can help you overcome obstacles in both your yoga and meditation practices. Keep trying to take on just a little bit at a time. For example, if you are trying to do a pose that is very difficult for you, say firefly, accept that maybe today that pose is not accessible. That doesn’t mean you should stop practicing – there are plenty of other poses for you to try. Perhaps you can do poses that build up to the pose you want to do. Keep trying, a little bit after a little bit. Be prepared to come back to the pose another day. Practice. Lay the groundwork. Accept that some things take time to learn and work on doing the preparation needed to open up and prepare your body for the pose. Over time, with patience, you might be able to achieve your goal.
The same thing applies to your meditation practice. Sitting on the cushion for hours at a time when you are beginning is just too hard – both physically and mentally. Try a shorter practice. If today seems like it “just isn’t working”, accept it. Try again tomorrow. Have the patience to set small goals and, over time, you may reach the larger ones.
Lolly here is practicing patience with the humans she lives with. When she wants a cookie, she raises her paw. It may not work right away but she patiently shows the paw knowing that, over time, rewards do come.
But even for Lolly, patience sometimes isn’t enough. Waiting and time may not be the best path for removing an obstacle or getting your cookie.
If I patiently wait to cross a busy freeway in Los Angeles during rush hour a good time may never come. Or, if I want to climb Mount Everest next year, becoming an elephant head and trying to push to the summit when not fully prepared also will not work. Is there another way of overcoming obstacles? What can I do? To be continued —