The Yoga Sutras – Book 1 & 2

Book 1, Sutra 4: At other times [the Self appears to] assume the forms of the mental modifications.

Book 1, Sutra 30: Disease, dullness, doubt, carelessness, laziness, sensuality, false perception, failure to reach firm ground and slipping from the ground gained Ė these distractions of the mind-stuff are the obstacles.

Iíve been thinking about obstacles. New York is full of them. About a month ago I went to the kirtan at Sonic and one of the song we did was a chant to Ganesha. One of the cantors talked about Ganesha as the remover of obstacles, or the one who carefully places obstacles in our way when we need them. I didnít understand this later explanation and itís been nagging at the back of my mind.

In Book 1, Sutra 30, Patanjali talks about the nature of obstacles, and their residence in the mind. Despite that I consider my biggest obstacles to live outside of my own body, Patanjali reminds me that the true obstacles are within, in the mind. Linking this to Book 1, Sutra 4, I realized that the most effective way to remove obstacles, internal or external, is to change my mind about them.

I thought some more about the cantor’s description of Ganesha. The Prana has a sense of humor and a sense of deep compassion. There are obstacles within me that I have been turning away from for too long. I deal with them by avoiding them. So Ganesha, in his wisdom, forces me to deal with my obstacles by placing other obstacles in my way that I must respond to, ones that I cannot turn away from. And in dealing with those obstacles, I am being forced to deal with the bigger obstacles within.

I need to slow down, to learn how to make and stick to boundaries, to find my edge and live there Ė mentally and physically Ė so he handed me a yoga practice so intense that I have a sore bum and the need for far more sleep than usual. I have no choice but to slow down and consider what it is that Iím really trying to do with this life. For too long, Iíve been so worried that if I slow down, Iíll miss out. Iíll lose an opportunity or a lucky break.

Since I was a child, I have struggled with insomnia. My mind and my body literally couldnít calm down and go to sleep. Now almost 2/3 of the way through this yoga teacher training, I am sleeping better than I ever have in my life. For 18 minutes a day, I think about these two Sutras. I think about changing my mind, and I wait. And the opportunities, better than ever, are showing up. I donít need to keep looking around for a better life. The one I have is amazing; nowís the time to slow down and appreciate every moment.