Overcoming Obstacles: Finding Gratitude in Deep Stillness

Written by Nicole Doherty – published for Yoganonymous

Whenever we are faced with obstacles on our journey, they are actually amazing opportunities in disguise to create stillness, to go within and to find gratitude for all things.

With every obstacle that arises we have a chance to see the shadowy parts of ourselves that lay hidden beneath the surface. The fluctuations of the mind, the ego, and external forces create a landmine of distractions that can keep us from going deep within to listen to our soul. We all know how easy it is, when faced with obstacles to judge and to move outside of our alignment toward self-destructive, punishing behaviors and thoughts of our wrongdoing. Or we can distract ourselves outwardly by socializing, searching for people to rally around our ‘being right’, or help those who are troubled so that we can forget about our own issues.

As described by the ancient philosophies, the truth is that the way to harness our power is to create stillness. In stillness we magnify our power by listening to silence. Silence gives us a glimpse of the free, unconditionally loving spirit within. It strengthens our intuition, which is our ability to see the inner world, in contrast to using our eyes to interpret the ever-changing outer world. Creating stillness is what most of us need and what most of us despise. Stillness can be perceived as uncomfortable, frightful, lazy and lonely.

Let’s not forget that we are spiritual beings living in a human body and not the other way around. The love for others and ourselves originates from our connection to Source energy.

“You are not a troubled guest on this Earth, you are not an accident amidst other accidents, you were invited from another and greater night than the one from which you have just emerged.” ~David Whyte

In the Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali, (1.14) it is written, “control over the mind’s fluctuations comes from persevering practice and non-attachment”. These two guiding concepts of Abhyasa (consistent practice) and Vairagya (non-attachment) help us to find meditation. Although they seem like opposites, effort and surrender, they work as compliments to find this peace within. Peace does not come without practice.

For me, the most effective way to design a practice is to create a sacred space right next to my bed. This way before I start my day, or before I go to bed, I have no excuse, but to stop at my altar. I have adorned my altar with many representations of beauty, people, deities, rocks, stones, crystals, scents and elements of nature. I now have a meditation cushion to curb my excuses that it’s just not comfortable.

I also have slowed down significantly to find prayers of gratitude before my daily rituals like eating, yoga, or healing sessions to tap into my Source energy for guidance and love. If the mind is heavily distracted I learned through the Law of Attraction to acknowledge all of the things that I am grateful for through stream of consciousness. This will turn my attention away from negative thought patterns and will line me up with Source energy. From Source, I can more easily drop into meditation.

For my meditations, especially if I am restless, I turn to wise meditation teachers to steer my silence through their guided meditations. Some of my favorite teachers are Deepak Chopra, Rod Stryker, Richard Freeman and Jeddah Mali.

On a final note about those feelings of discomfort, I want to share an analogy that I love from a Shaman I trained with in Peru.

Imagine for the first time you have just stepped onto an airplane.  Bad weather appears outside. The plane gets bumpy and is jolted. Major fear arises. You think are going to die. You reach for the barf bag in the seat in front of you and get sick. The second time you get on the plane, you feel the jolt and you know what is causing it and the feeling of sickness may have dissipated. After several plane rides you know the territory and you feel more safe. Now, you can fall asleep on the plane with no effort. You completely trust and surrender that you are in good hands. 

The next time you sit down, remember that everything that’s new has its obstacles and that’s what provides the biggest growth. Sit with your fear and send it love.

This year has been one of the most challenging years of my life, with the biggest obstacles and it has also the most expansive on all levels of my being.  Finding my meditation practice has transformed my life.

In pure love, light and joy, may you find peace this holiday season and find meditation in all your days to come.

Photo Cred:

Origionally Published at Yoganonymous

Great Spirits Have Always Encountered Violent Opposition from Mediocre Minds_Einstein3

What Are We Resisting?

by Nicole Doherty, Certified Yoga Teacher

Resistance. As yoga teachers we talk a lot about this subject in class. Letting go of your resistance. Surrendering to your practice. Relinquishing the mind. The dictionary defines resistance as “the opposition offered by one thing to another.” What is it that we are opposing and what can we gain as a result of our practice?

  1. Stress vs. Calm: The amount of stress that we undergo as a culture is killing us. Literally. So getting on the mat offers a great opportunity to release this bound up energy and move it through the system. In most yoga classes we give you a decent cool down and a Savasana that offers the nervous system a much-needed break. Your body moves into the parasympathetic system of restoration and relaxation, when your body is literally being healed.
  2. Mental Chaos vs. Meditation: In our society we are bombarded with stimulus that pulls us in every direction. Between cars, traffic, computers, cell phones, etc. our brain is on overload. Time in a yoga class is a technology holiday and a chance to shut off. There is no way to get a hold of you, cell phones off. The brain can take rest and move into meditation.
  3. Unconscious vs. Conscious Thoughts: This is one of my personal favorites and why yoga became my life path. When we are running around all day, we’re not really listening. We are in a mode of reactivity and mostly unconscious behavior. But on the mat, once we slow down a bit, we get the gift of observation. We start to feel the mind-body-soul connection. We hear the little voices in our heads and we can observe our thoughts. Our thoughts become our actions, so we start to understand the importance of becoming conscious of them.

We tend to be in a state of resistance and opposition often. Resistance is a state of being. Contrast is what offers us choice and helps us to form our preferences. So when you enter into resistance and you are asked to surrender begin to observe what you are holding onto, attaching to and preventing yourself from experiencing that could bring you more happiness and sustained joy.

Feel free to comment on this article below and let me know what it is that you feel you resist and what the opposite state of being has brought into your life.