Overcoming Obstacles Patience and Waiting

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 paw


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.


lolly reward


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 —




Overcoming obstacles. Ganesh and pushing on through


This is Ganesh or Ganesha, the elephant headed god.  How did he get this head?  One day, he was asked to guard Parvati the goddess of fertility, love, and devotion who coincidentally was also his mother, while she was taking a bath.  His father Shiva, who did not know he had a son, came home and wanted to enter the house.  Ganesh, protecting his mother, refused to let him in.  In a fit of rage, Shiva cut of Ganesh’s head.  His mother, obviously being upset, let Shiva know that this was his son whose head was on the floor.  Ganesh had only been doing the duty he was asked to perform.  Hearing this news, Shiva sent his men out to find the head of the first dead animal they could find.  Finding an elephant, the men returned.   Shiva attached the elephant head to the body of the boy Ganesh and brought him back to life – and you thought you had an interesting childhood!


The Hindu tradition calls Ganesh the Vighneshvara. “Vighneshvara” in Sanskrit language means one who is the lord of obstacles or difficulties. In the Hindu tradition worshiping or by even by asking Ganesha to help, one can remove obstacles and difficulties (Wikipedia).   Ganesh’s most striking feature his large elephant head symbolizing wisdom and knowledge.  As for his ability to remove obstacles, have you ever seen an elephant take a walk?  If an elephant wants to go somewhere he just goes.  If an obstacle is in his path he doesn’t just go around, he just goes through.




elephantpushing tree


Overcoming Obstacles:  Perseverance

So our first method of removing obstacles is perseverance – pushing on through till we reach our goal.  If an obstacle is placed in our path, we think, be like a bull-elephant headed (or an elephant headed god) and just keep on going.   For example, in your yoga practice, your teacher may ask you to hold a pose for what you think is a very long time.  At first the pose seems easy but the longer you hold the pose the harder and harder it seems it become.  You may want to give up, but, be like the elephant.  Keep going.  Try staying with the pose, pushing on through till the holding ends.  (Of course any real pain is a sign to stop doing what you are doing).


Same thing applies to your sitting meditation.  As you sit, endless thoughts, feelings, and even physical discomfort may come up.  It seems like nothing can be done to stop these feelings and discomforts.  Accept these feelings, thoughts, and even the small discomforts.   Just  keep sitting returning to your meditation technique.  Pushing yourself onward can be a good strategy for developing a longer practice.


Of course there are other methods – – – – – –  Have you ever come to a busy road intersection and wanted to cross?  You can try being an elephant head  and continue walking into the traffic but that usually comes with some unwanted side effects like being hit by a car.  Being Ganesh-like has it’s place but it is not the end all of removing obstacles.   After all, Ganesh was just following his instructions perfectly and lost his head over it!  While asking Ganesh to remove obstacles is one way of removing them, there are some others.  We will explore them in upcoming blogs.  To be continued – – – – – – – –

When to use the power of Ganesh and strategies for removing your own obstacles

overcoming obstacles



Have you ever had a problem that was difficult to solve? Did you eventually solve it? What was your problem? How did you overcome your difficulty? It doesn’t have to be a big problem like trying to climb Mount Everest. It can be a little thing, perhaps feeling a little more at ease in your meditation practice. Perhaps getting out of bed for that early yoga practice.

Over the next couple of blog posts we will explore different ways of overcoming obstacles to add to your toolbox. There are many ways and many paths.


ulster road sign

Is your yoga more like a cupcake or a muffin?



Some say cupcakes are just muffins that believe in miracles.  Today we explore that age-old question -what is the difference between a cupcake and a muffin?  We eat them and seem to believe intuitively and clearly that there is a difference but what is this difference really?


The answer is subtle.  Muffins are more “bread like” while cupcakes are more, well, “cake like”.  Muffins seem to us to be healthier to eat, not filled with sugar, but rather filled with ingredients good for us like- oats, bran, or fruit.


Cupcakes are loaded with extra sugar, and topped with frostings. They usually come at an end of a mealtime as a desert – adding a flourish to the ending of the meal. They seem sweet on the way down but somehow leave you with a sense of absence after the initial sugar high wears off.


To a baker, muffins are made more like how a loaf of bread would be made, while cupcakes usually are made closer to how you would make a cake.


What is your approach to your yoga practice?   When you go through your asana practice, are you more like a cupcake or a muffin? Are you digging down deep inside, making sure all the parts of the pose are integrated together, experiencing the pose from the bottoms of your feet, to the top of your body and letting the poses kneed into your inner being and the core of who you are?  Or are you just looking for the quick fix, the sugar high, and the “I did some yoga today” check box before setting off on another activity?



What’s the difference between expressing a yoga pose completely and just going through the motions?   It’s similar to eating the healthier muffin or the more sugary cupcake.


The poses may look similar on the outside but on the inside the core ingredients are different.  Your approach to the pose is different, your body feels subtly different and when you practice your energy is different.


Ask yourself, are you approaching youryoga practice with a lot of sugar and sweetness or are you doing a healthier more fulfilling version? For each pose, are you expressing yourself to your fullest potential or are you just doing it not believing it is important how you express yourself and just moving on to the next pose.  Start doing your yoga practice, as a muffin would, full of good ingredients but also with just a bit of sweetness and filling as well.


Feel all the complexities in the flavor of the pose.  Believe in yourself, knowing you have done the pose to the best of your ability. Become the muffin.



lolly licking