The Obstacle is the Way


Throwing up. Fainting publicly. Most recently, zinging sciatic pain in my right side. These are a handful of the obstacles I’ve been finding a way through across the past few months. As I reflect on this collection of new experiences, I’m taken back to a time – just about 6 years ago – when I had quit my fancy corporate job and was bright-eyed, energized and ready to launch my wellness empire. Less than a month after the launch, however, I (very clumsily) fractured my tailbone.

All forward momentum was paused. The inner world and the literal healing of my body took center stage. I was commanded into a stillness I wasn’t at all comfortable with. I vividly remember that the only way I could walk was to take two epsom salt baths a day and ice my poor tail as much as possible in between.

Fast-forward to the present and my recent low back pain. As I write this, I’m sitting in a coffee shop that took me about 5 minutes to walk to from my car parked a block away. Ironically, after my last post about softening and slowing, I’ve been invited to again shed a layer of what I thought I knew, how I figured things would go, and reassess. Again - nothing but a merciless connection with the present will do.

I’m reminded of this Ram Dass quote that actually popped up in my inbox today:

The interesting question is, “How do you put yourself in a position so that you can allow ‘what is’ to be?” The enemy turns out to be the creation of mind, because when you are just in the moment, doing what you are doing, there is no fear. The fear is when you stand back to think about it.”

In the moment, adding surrender, allowance, and a deep presence is a salve to the pain. A reminder of the treasure buried inside of it.  Another invitation to trust the cosmic dance that I am both participant and co-creator of.  And let me be quite clear – this is not an exploration in feeling sorry for myself and the things that have come up in this pregnancy. It’s actually quite the opposite –an observation of an obstacle, and the way through.

I have found the way through the nausea and the vomiting. I have found the way through the low-blood sugar fainting, and I am certain (with the help of an amazing chiropractor) I will find a way through this particular experience of discomfort.

There is another yogic adage that goes: There is a way through every block.

Indeed. Instead of making the obstacle the enemy, what if we become fascinated by it? Curious about it? Learn from it?  

I’ve discovered an even deeper enjoyment of the slowness. Additional time for napping (something I hear is quite valuable before a baby arrives). And a newfound gratitude for the many pillows I am now utilizing to find a safe position to sleep (approximately 7). 

Here is another example I’ve been working through with a client. Her obstacle is a toxic boss who behaves in a way that is difficult to respect. The inquiry looks something like this:

  • What’s fascinating about this situation? In her case, it’s a pattern that’s popped up time and time again.

  • Where can curiosity fit in? She has a chance to understand what she really does respect in a leader and in co-workers, and begin to embody those herself, leading and teaching in however small way by example.

  • What can she learn from this? Jedi mind tricks to find strength in the face of adversity. A deep grace to purposefully look for the silver lining instead of losing energy through complaint.

  • How is this helping in some way? Ultimately it’s a personal wakeup call that it is high time to find a new career journey that, in her case, involves being more of a leader/entrepreneur and less of a follower. 

As we grow and evolve in life, the obstacles don't disappear, in fact they usually become more challenging – testing our grit, our strength, and our ability to see clearly the teacher in every uncomfortable moment.  

As I walk towards my own obstacles with a beginners mind and an open heart, I invite you to do the same. And should you be interested in guidance to do just that, I look forward to connecting one-on-one.


P.S. Though I have yet to read the book, the name of this blog was 100% inspired by this book that my husband has been reading (and raving) about lately. I’m looking forward to diving in!

Photography by Lust Local Media.

Joanna Andreae