Clearing the Way: Why Pursuing the Obstacle is the Key to Transitioning

There is one things for sure, no pilgrimage is without obstacles. Whether small or large, at a certain stage we will encounter some form of difficulty. Yet, it is the way we deal with these hardships that makes all the difference for the rest of our journey.

Obstacles Blocking our Way

It was during my pilgrimage to Santiago, that I was walking on a forest path somewhere in Southern France. A storm had swept through the area, and everywhere around me nature looked kind of wild. Suddenly, I came to a standstill. A tree was lying right in the middle of the path, and it was massive.

Obstacles. They can present themselves in many different ways.

Some days they reside inside the mind, like the nagging voice that keeps telling us that ‘we are not good enough’. Sometimes it’s a deeply felt emotion that gets in the way, like guilt or shame.

Obstacles could also present themselves inside our personal space of the body, or outside this space in our social circles.

Wherever it is that we encounter as an obstacle, one thing is for certain – it is blocking our way. It is blocking us from reaching our planned destination, that which we were journeying towards.

Clearing the Way

What am I going to do? I thought looking at that majestic piece of wood. The space below it’s huge trunk was too small to slide through. And going around it was going to be quite the struggle too. How on earth am I going to get on the other side of this thing!

Often when we come across an obstacles we either freak out, instantly give up or get into indefinite stuck mode. These behaviours often prevents us from making changes and transitioning.

As we are focused on our destination, the obstacles is immediately getting the label “problematic”. Now I’ll never get there! Now I won’t be able to continue my journey!

It is exactly this fixation on that which lies in the future, that will keep us from being able to find ways to carry on with our journey.

A Change of Perspective

While having another good look at the monstrous wooden object in from of me, I smiled at it. You are a tree.

Behold what is there, and be kind to it.

Listen to that nagging voice in your mind, what does it has to say? Be with the big emotion or the blockage in your body, give it space and let it know you are there. Be curious about the friend or family member that has an opinion about you, be curious, ask them questions.

Be with it. Listen to it. Give it space. Be curious about it. And be kind to it.

The Key to Transformation

I removed my backpack, and threw it to the other side of the trunk. One part of it, had a couple of branches. Using these branches as steps, I hoisted my belly on top of the trunk, swung my legs over it, and then landed right next to my pack in the sand.

Approaching an obstacle with awareness and kindness will change our relationship to it.

The more often we practice bringing an observing and kind attitude to the difficulties we encounter, the less need we will have to run away, freak out or become stuck. In other words, we can gradually begin to let go of the behaviours that gets in the way of our transitioning process.

Pursuing the obstacle, then, allows us to step away from regarding the obstacle as separate from the path we are travelling.

Instead, we start seeing obstacles for what they really are – a significant element of our journey.


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