The obstacles you encounter becomes the way

“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”

― Marcus Aurelius

As in other areas of your life, you will encounter obstacles in your mindfulness and meditation practice.  You can train your mind to make the barrier the way rather than a distraction or annoyance.


The obstacle of sound    

When I began my meditation and mindfulness practice, some of the biggest obstacles were the sounds going on around me.  I would take it as a personal offense if there were any noises.  Reacting as if anyone or anything cared that I was struggling with stillness.  Just sitting for two minutes was a major task and then there are these sounds going on around me.  How dare they interrupt me whoever or whatever they were; e.g. people talking, cars driving, dogs barking, birds chirping.  Didn’t they realize that this was important to me, and they were impeding my progress? 

So What

Well, so what!  Therein lies the fundamental root of almost all human problems.  The prison of self. I had become so wrapped up in my world that the worlds of others were secondary.  It was more than indifference; it was personal. They were affecting me.  Me, me, me. In the incidents when birds were chirping or dogs were barking, that is what they do.  It is what they are.  In all fairness escaping the prison of self and knowing ourselves is the most difficult journey we can go on.  Most of our behaviors and reactions are unconscious.  We usually default to past programming.  If were able to see through that then we still must contend with the nonstop chattering that takes place in our heads.  It is not easy.

Become a Stoic

An excellent method to deal with obstacles is to act as the Stoics, such as Seneca, acted.  The barrier becomes your practice.  Whatever is in the way becomes the way.  That is how you move past your obstacles.  In reality, the only thing that changes is your attitude towards the obstacle.  The obstacle doesn't change you change.  We might not often admit it, but that is the case in all of life's endeavors. 

A meditation on sound

If you have trouble with noises while you're doing your practice, you can use the sounds around you to become your meditation.  I heard a great guided meditation from Jessica Improta ( that inspired this.  When you begin, you will want to focus on your breath.  Once you achieve a sustained focus on your breath, you then start to take notice of the sounds around you.  Pick a particular sound, one that you find most distracting, and concentrate on that sound.  You will want to investigate that noise.  What exactly is that sound?  What is the origin of the sound? Why has it grabbed my attention?  Make the sound your anchor to the present moment.  When you do this, the obstacle becomes the way.   You will find that this meditation will significantly improve your level of focus.  

Until Next Week,

Rich Decker
Mindful Accord