Excerpted and Adapted from “The 15 Spiritual Impasses” found in Higher Self Yoga: Book One by Founder Nanette V. Hucknall.
We know amazing things can happen when we connect with our Higher Selves, but this is not a journey that takes place overnight. It is a practice that supports you as you grow and evolve over time.
In every journey, there comes a moment when the student reaches a plateau that may seem impossible to surmount. The student will likely experience a sense of helplessness and a lack of motivation. Sometimes, it can take a moment to recognize that this is even taking place – but when you do notice, it is important to stop, regroup, and bring your attention to the moment at hand.
Below are three significant impasses that may seem minor at first, but are actually indicators that an important shift in energy has taken place, one that could lead to a significant obstacle in one’s spiritual progress. Let’s take a look at this sample of spiritual impasses and how we can address them.
Impasse #1: Your Day-to-Day Life Consumes Your Will to Progress
When we become consumed by the demands of daily life to the extent that we lose sight of our greater purpose, then we have moved from having an issue of time management to an issue of prioritization.
Ironically, consistently engaging in your meditation, journaling, and dialogue with the Higher Self puts one at risk of experiencing a sense of being on a spiritual plateau. What was once a wondrous, exciting new practice slowly becomes a chore, and we can be tempted to return to the familiar comforts and routines of our mundane world. We notice that our excuses to skip our practice become more and more refined until perhaps, we realize that we have stopped practicing altogether.
As you encounter an excuse developing in your mind, take that as a sure sign that you are meant to be practicing. Even if the enthusiasm isn’t at the same level it was in the beginning, trust that you will be inspired anew when you engage. Recall to mind the inspiration that first brought you to practice in order to reawaken your interest. Don’t be afraid to mix up your teaching materials if it helps you stay on your path.
The mundane world in all its demands and distractions is always at the forefront of our minds, but remember that you are part of a greater purpose. It is your right and your heritage to live a life filled with meaning and connection.
Impasse #2: Being Hard on Yourself When Things Get Tough
While the previous impasse touches on motivation to practice in the face of common distractions, there is a greater, more central impasse that has to do with an overall commitment to the work of spiritual progress.
We may think of personal growth as soft, gentle, subtle work. While this can sometimes be the case, we certainly shouldn’t underestimate the strength of will needed to face and correct the aspects of ourselves that prevent us from evolving. Without willpower for the journey, almost every obstacle becomes an issue that puts us at risk of staying stuck in the same place.
How does a student develop steadfastness in their striving? Consider the elements of your life that generate energy, positivity, and confidence. Call to mind this feeling when you are feeling defeated or sluggish and apply it to your practice. A general sense of structure paired with a specific routine can be a great combination for strengthening the will. Anyone can repair, grow and strengthen their will. By applying a steady hand of compassionate self-discipline, you can empower yourself to stay committed to your path and purpose.
Impasse #3: Indulging Our Lower Nature
When we first begin our journey, it is likely from a place of frustration, boredom, or a growing disinterest in the lower vibration patterns that have ruled our life. We crave elevation, long for something greater, and seek to be united with higher ideals. As we begin to practice and get a taste of this higher form of living, our lower nature remains close by, nipping at our progress, waiting for us to become fatigued by the energy required by our growth.
This impasse has less to do with being distracted or weak-willed and more to do with an overall questioning of how we want to live. The path of least resistance is present in all of us. Like our Higher Self, our lower-nature is also an inherent part of who we are, and therefore, it knows precisely how to convince us that the commitment to greater purpose may not be worth the effort. Perhaps the life of indulgence we led before was not so bad?
Unfortunately, there is no easy answer for how to overcome these bouts of doubt brought forth by our lower nature. This question of how one wants to live is not dissimilar from the feeling of a “dark night of the soul,” where we question everything about who we want to be and how we want to live. This can be a painful but worthwhile process. What is most important is that you engage with this obstacle, however it arises for you. Face the questions your lower self is asking of you and draw on the strength of your desire to live a full and engaged life in order to guide you through these trials.
Remember, Spiritual Impasses are the Path
Spiritual impasses can take many forms. In the first book of the Higher Self Yoga series, author and Higher Self Yoga founder Nanette V. Hucknall describes twelve additional spiritual impasses that may resonate with you, and even those are just further a sampling. These challenges are, for all beings, central to the journey itself. Without them, we would not be tested and would therefore not know what we are capable of becoming.
Whatever form of spiritual impasse arises on your journey, stay aware. What you might experience as a minor setback or loss of direction is in itself a sign that your commitment to your personal journey is being tested. Spiritual practitioners in the east are sometimes referred to as Warriors because the work of staying committed to the path is one that requires vigilance, discipline, and bravery. These lapses of focus and motivation are actually a calling to step up and greet the challenge so you can emerge a stronger, more capable being, one step closer to embodying your highest potential.
In closing of this chapter of Higher Self Yoga Book One, Nanette advises, “If you find yourself feeling lost in a tunnel with no turning back and with no light ahead to guide you if you are at this impasse, try to surround yourself with beauty and realize that beauty is part of God Consciousness, that beauty brings joy, that beauty restores the longing to return to the Source.”
You can learn more about Spiritual Impasses in Nanette V. Hucknall’s work, Higher Self Yoga: Book One. See the library here.