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  • Writer's pictureChrissie Mowbray

How to Sit with your Obstacles

You will succeed if you persevere; and you will find joy in overcoming obstacles – Helen Keller

The long running theme within the articles on our website and our book and courses is one of Self-awareness. As a result of years of research and painstakingly unpacking our own experiences we learned that gaining sovereignty over one’s responses to anything that happens is the key towards becoming bullet proof. When we perceive that we have failed, lost a battle or taken a wrong turn, we ask ourselves about the nature of the obstacle that we placed in front of our peace. Once we have identified how we blocked our own progress, the premise is to shift it.

Many of our tools have their roots in shamanism. This is an ancient practice which predates organised religion and is steeped in ritual. In most modern shamanic writings such as ‘The Four Agreements’ by Don Miguel Ruiz and ‘Warrior Goddess Training’ by HeatherAsh Amara, you will see that there is a focus on encouraging the reader to make shifts. When we undertake to do Shadow Work or Soul Retrieval in a therapeutic session, we are empowering a process of transmutation. We are making changes as soon as we know what needs to be done.

Today's world is driven, and modern humans are motivated by competition and comparison with each other. We judge people so that we can measure our own progress and we are conditioned to go faster, aim higher and achieve more. Often it feels that compassion and connection take a back seat at the hands of success. We likely condition our children in a similar way, through a fear that in a harsh competitive society they need to become high achievers lest they fall behind. This feels like love to us but can become evidence to them that they are not enough unless they are successful. It can result in a modern propensity to keep achieving. Most of us have probably felt the same way at some point as a result of our own conditioning.

When we embark on a path of enlightenment and Self-awareness, we become aware of the work that we can do to improve our wellbeing and become bullet proof. This means having obstacles to growth revealed to us as we explore. There can be a tendency, because of this modern drive towards achievement, to want to move all of those obstacles immediately. When we begin to learn about the Self and how to move our locus of control internally, taking responsibility for our own responses and seizing the power back – we can become driven to make shift after shift straight away without drawing breath. We can feel pushed to move every obstacle as soon as we see it thus applying that modern-world drive to our spiritual development.

When we come up against an obstacle – how do we best move it?

Rather than follow the impulse to move it straight away, what if we sat with it first?

Wabi Sabi Japanese philosophy states that ‘nothing lasts, nothing is finished and nothing is perfect.’

If you are taking the road towards enlightenment, you will find yourself on a journey strewn with things to shift. Those shifts cannot all happen at once to reveal a clear road ahead. They pull back layers and reveal deeper truths but the process is not finite in this life at least and so we are wise if we become comfortable with our obstacles.

On the journey towards Self-mastery, some obstacles are easy to see and move and some appear more complicated and seem to come round over and over again. It may even feel to us as if these are the big things we came here to address and that even when we have made strides, there is more. This is the journey.

If we learn to become comfortable with our ‘stuff’ we can examine what keeps us attached to it and more importantly – what we have to lose from letting it go.

When allow our obstacles to stick around until we know every aspect of them - or are thoroughly sick of them – we know for sure that they can leave. If we sit with it we can understand every facet of the ‘stuckness’ and this teaches us exactly how to dissolve the glue.

Try this

The next time you find yourself struggling to break a habit or give up a negative thought or harmful behaviour press pause.

Instead of engaging in a struggle to stop, try the following:

Step into the shoes of your Observer Self. This is the part of you that can see the thoughts, feelings, behaviours or habit, but not the part of you that is engaging in it.

Becoming the Observer allows you to step back and witness the process rather than taking part.

Wake up all five senses and come into the present moment.

Witness yourself engaging in the thought/behaviour/habit - with impartiality.

What do you see?

Is there a smell or taste?

What do you feel?

What do you hear?

Follow the event right the way through to the consequences of your thoughts/feelings and behaviours -without judgement – this is an evaluation.

When you judge yourself for ‘doing wrong’ you contaminate your ability to learn.

How do you feel after the event?

What label would you give the emotion?

Is it pleasant or unpleasant?

Remember that this is simply information.

No need to add any emotion or judgement.


This unwanted behaviour is there because, in the past, you gained something from doing it – is the time to learn what it is that you need now.

When unwanted thoughts/feelings and behaviours are truly witnessed and fully experienced they are wise teachers. We can learn from them both about our own needs and what we are manifesting in our lives through our unconscious processes.

Once you have allowed yourself to engage in an unwanted habit both mindfully and consciously without judgement, its nature is revealed to you so that you are much better able to let it go.

For more insights and a host of tools and techniques for exploring the Self and improving your human experience see our book:

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Jun 01

Ladies...I was able to pair this week's post with another complimentary teaching I've been following for quite some time, enabling me to move past a negative thought which has gotten in the way. YAY!!! Blessings, Alan

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