There is a particular Yoga Sutra i.30, which states
"Disease, dullness, doubt, carelessness, laziness, sensuality, false perception, failure to reach firm ground and slipping from the ground gained - these distractions of the mind-stuff are the obstacles.' The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali - Translation and Commentary by Sri Swami Satchidananda
These obstacles that Patanjali refers to are the ‘roadblocks’ we encounter along the way of our spiritual path. These obstacles do not allow us to proceed forward, they do not allow us to clearly see the path ahead. Patanjali says that encounters with these obstacles are normal. Not only are they normal, but when they arise it is an indication that we are indeed heading in the right direction. Too many obstacles, however, create mental disturbances and we end up becoming more susceptible to these interruptions, making it more difficult to obtain our desired goal. This goal can be anything you set your mind to. Landing your dream job, staying on that diet, getting your leg behind your head, traveling, or the goal of enlightenment. So instead of having a ‘what if?’, ‘I can’t’, ‘Maybe’ kind of attitude, change it to a ‘Yes, I can’ attitude.
One of the obstacles that I often encounter is samsaya - doubt. It is said that this obstacle arises due to the lack of faith and trust in the source. We are presented with numerous options in our everyday life. We get confused, we begin to doubt our ability to choose accordingly. Doubt also leads to the need to control every detail and every aspect of our live and many times that of others.
When I sense my negative attitudes or I doubt my ability, or when I am constantly re-thinking a situation or a decision I already made, I stress. Stress causes me to become irritated and I get a horrible pain in my shoulder. When this happens I need to take a step back and observe the situation. It doesn’t mean that the doubt magically disappears, no, but realizing these moments of doubt helps me to overcome them. Doubt is normal. We all experience doubt. But it’s important to keep the big picture in mind and your mind set on the goal.
Doubt is caused by a lack of faith. We need to believe, have faith, find our spiritual path, and we need to be both strong and brave. We need to believe in ourselves, believe in God, and believe in the Universe. We need to trust in the source, that we will obtain our goal.
There are nine obstacles mentioned in the sutra. Dealing with them is hard and discouraging and many times it feels like a set back on your path. But have faith; although an obstacle may seem to be negative, it actually encourages you to cultivate and maintain a one-pointed state of mind and stay on the chosen path. The one-pointed mind is not only found in the yogic world, but it is a world wide approach to self-development also known as mindfulness, awareness, staying on track, and not losing sight of the ‘prize’, what ever that may be.