Patanjali’s Methods for Overcoming Obstacles

The Art Of Animation:

Based on Patanjali’s Sutra’s 32 ~ 39.

In earlier sutras Patanjali states that to move towards samadhi one needs faith, courage, intense desire and effort, strong will, energy, memory and higher intelligence; he also says some people come to it naturally due to auspicious birth, and others because they are naturally able to practice complete surrender to God. (Ishwara)

Patanjali recommends the sadhana or spiritual practice of the sacred sound to turn the consciousness inward.. This sadhana is for those who do not have great energy, fierce will power or even faith. It is for the ordinary seeker.

Even so obstacles are encountered. These Patanjali outlines as  ~ Disease, Dullness, Doubt, Laziness, Craving for sensual enjoyment, Mistaken perception of the Truth, Inability to progress in meditation and Mental Instability.

Pain, depression, and uneven breathing are named as further obstacles.

All these obstacles distract the inward process of awareness. They are often psychic manifestations and are common to all seekers. Patanjali outlines in sutras 32 to 39 how to overcome these obstacles.


Don’t keep changing your methods. If you have a mantra or meditation practice or psychic symbol stick to it. Ultimately there is no difference between symbols and paths, but chopping and changing confuses the mind which is trying to move inwards. In sutra 31 Patanjali says ”the practice of concentration on one principle (is to be done)”.


The best way to allow the mind to be peaceful is to practice friendliness towards the happy, compassion for the unhappy, gladness for the virtuous, and indifference towards those who are full of vice. This applies to people, events and situations, and  enables the mind to become undisturbed and allows easier introversion. It eliminates jealousy, competitiveness, fear, disdain, anger, etc.


While there are sadhanas available for the different temperaments, for example devotion for those with an emotional character, selfless work for those who are dynamic, enquiry and sacred study for those who are intellectual, etc, all will benefit from some control over breathing. In this sutra Patanjali specifically mentions exhalation and external retention , or holding the breath out after exhalation. If you do this with some awareness, and being gentle and not straining in any way, you will find that it is through the exhalation that the body and mind let go, and it is  during external retention that the musculature releases most fully. It is worth being aware sometimes of the brief natural pause in the body after exhalation. This is a valuable moment in every breath.


In this sutra Patanjali describes a very handy method for overcoming the obstructions to making the mind one-pointed. We bring ourselves fully into the present by moving from the mind and purely into the senses. Noticing sound intensely when on a walk in nature. Feeling the sensations on our skin while swimming, or experiencing touch. Hearing music. Smelling. Seeing the clouds move overhead. Seeing the sun refracted through dew drops. Tasting food. Stopping the mind fully while engaged in these sensory experiences and noticing them as if for the very first time. Do not name the sound or the taste or the sight,  the touch or the smell. Be aware of how it interacts with you on a vibrational level.

Nada yoga, Kirtan, Tratak ~ these are all variations of this observation.


In this sutra Patanjali is referring to the concentration on the luminous space between the eyebrows, the third eye (Ajna), seen from within, eyes closed. It is a serene, calm light, not intense; it is lunar in nature. One of the methods for experiencing this is simple concentration on the eyebrow centre or Bhrumadhya.


This is the renunciation of passion or desire, thereby making the mind steadier, more controlled. The passions are not suppressed but in suitable persons are harnessed and focused, to create one-pointed-ness.


Practice of conscious sleeping and conscious dreaming can enable the mind to become strong enough to overcome the obstacles mentioned earlier. It is generally suited to those who are psychic by nature. Awareness of the states of waking and sleeping can be used as a support to concentrate the mind.


This is the freedom clause 🙂 Meditation, complete concentration on some object which one loves and feels devotion for, is the surest way to make the mind steady and peaceful. It does not matter what the object is, so long as it is agreeable to the practitioner and holds their attention completely.

The above practices do not lead automatically to samadhi, but they do train the mind for mastery. It is why it is called ”practise”. By practice the consciousness becomes more refined and more easily introverted and concentrated.




Generally just Being. Nothing in particular, no claims to fame. I like gardening and the sea, nature, art in all forms from poetry to films and everything in between, and being in the company of my family.

Posted in Uncategorized, Yoga
One comment on “Patanjali’s Methods for Overcoming Obstacles
  1. Tawanda says:

    Thaks for the practices, you have helped me a lot with the first one. I wasn’t consistent or persistent either.


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