A few weeks ago in my yoga teacher training we were discussing obstacles. Obstacles can come into our lives in many forms and affect us in many different ways. They can be life changing or small, but even when they are small they are often enough to stress us out. Everyone has different ideas of what defines obstacles and how to handle them when they show up in our lives.
For this blog I want to talk about the large obstacles, the ones that rock our world and can change our lives. In the discussion with my yoga trainees I realized most people, when in the midst of the obstacle, have a hard time seeing the other side. When faced with something challenging it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We end up thinking life is going to be this way forever, and often lose our sense of self.
One of my biggest obstacles was when I was sick a few years back. After an amazing trip to India I came home and was confined to the couch for weeks. All my tests results from multiple doctors could find nothing wrong with me. I was so tired I would have to crawl to the bathroom. I lost all energy and drive and it took me over a year to recover. When I started to exercise again I was happy that I was not on the couch but frustrated that all I could do was walk around the block. Before my illness I could easily run 5-7 miles on any given day. I would try to remember the days when I used to run or ski and I would feel that I would never be able to do that again.
My life revolved around my illness and it soon became my identity. It was a rough time in my life and I allowed this obstacle to become me. I lost my sense of self because I could no longer exercise and that was a large part of how I identified myself. I was not able to take a step back and realize I was still the same loving, genuine person.
I think that is what obstacles can do. They make us question who we are as a person, how we identify ourselves, and how we show other people what we are made of. In the midst of my obstacle I saw no end to my illness so I identified with it. Instead of being “me” around people, I would only talk about my illness with them. Now that I am through it, I am able to see it from this perspective.
I’ve had other obstacles since then, but none quite as large. I’d like to think I am taking the lessons I learned and applying them to my new difficult situations when they arise. Here is a brief synopsis of what I have learned that hopefully can help you:
· There is always a light at the end of the tunnel. It might not be what you think it’ll look like, but nothing lasts forever.
· You are not your obstacle. You do not need to create an identity around your obstacle. You still have all the same amazing qualities as a person even if you are dealing with rough stuff.
· Support helps. This can be friends, family, or activities that help you feel supported, such as meditation, restorative yoga, exercise, craniosacral therapy, and especially journaling. There is great power in putting thoughts on paper.
· Listen to your body. Often in the midst, there is increased stress. What do you need to do to decrease the stress in your life? Take that time for yourself and honor what your body needs.
· Emotions can be like a roller coaster. Is there a way you can observe your emotions and thoughts rather then react or become them? Meditation really helps with this one!
· Focus your energy on the things that are GOOD in your life. Actions are a manifestation of our thoughts, and what we think, we do.
Obstacles are a part of life and can be a stepping stone or a stumbling block. When we get through them we feel accomplished, when in them, we feel lost. How do you turn your obstacles into stepping stones?
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