Embracing Your Obstacle

ReikiObstacleWhy embrace your obstacle? If you’re traveling along a road and a huge cactus blocks your path, you wouldn’t embrace it, would you? No, you’d walk around it.


But before you walked around it, something else happened. You noticed it.

If you felt any annoyance or frustration — any emotion at all — about the cactus being in your way, you quickly addressed it; you didn’t let it become a big deal that kept you from walking around the cactus in your path. You knew where you wanted to go, you recognized something was in your way, and you overcame it. Easy peasey.

Imagine if you recognized and overcame all your obstacles so efficiently. You could.

Unwrapping the secrets

What’s in an obstacle? Everything.

At least everything we need — and long — to understand about ourselves and our lives.

Here’s the secret few know about obstacles: your deepest treasure hides behind what you label “obstacle.” Yet instead of being happy when you stumble on a piece of your treasure, instead of having that Eureka! moment and rejoicing, you tend to feel frustrated.

Here’s another secret: if you’re having trouble overcoming an obstacle in your life, there’s an inner obstacle you haven’t recognized. Yet. You could.

The obstacle to the obstacle is whatever emotion you’ve wrapped around the fact that something’s in your way. Feelings such as frustration (as if everything you want should be handed to you?) or feeling like a failure (can you be a failure if you haven’t tried?) or feeling incompetent (yes, you might have to learn something before you can overcome this obstacle).

Unlocking your obstacle

Do you wrap the experience of something blocking your path in a lot of negative self talk, as if something being in your way is inherently wrong? As if life shouldn’t require you to strive and be creative and problem-solve and express yourself?

What’s your threshold for frustration? When frustrated, do you feel hopeless and helpless, or do you pause to breathe through it, and can keep going?

Making right effort

The Reiki Precepts help you reframe your inner conversation in a way that inspires gratitude and motivation where you might be mired in frustration. The precepts begin with:

Today only
Do not worry
Do not anger

Today only

The essence of the Reiki Precepts is contained in the opening: today only. Right now.

Today only, right now, pause to be present with your obstacle — and your emotions — instead of cursing the impediment or trying to push it aside. In the midst of your frustration, place your hands for Reiki self practice and see what happens.

Instead of giving up, worrying you can’t succeed, or getting angry that it’s not easier, simply place your hands for self practice while you sit with your frustration and the inner obstacles it’s hiding.

What happens? Does the frustration release? Does any insight peak out from behind your frustration? Do you spot a bit of self judgment encouraging you to put the brakes on instead of moving mindfully, and heartfully, forward? Do you feel an opening?

Your obstacle is an invitation

An obstacle is an invitation to go deeper, to discover something you didn’t know before.

Absorb that new perspective and you’ll make better, more informed choices for yourself. If you’re willing to grow every time you experience a hindrance, you’ll gain greater freedom and happiness instead of letting frustration erode your well-being.

Each obstacle — every single one — is a gateway to freedom and happiness, if you welcome it as an opportunity to transform your understanding.

We all have wild, unrelenting happiness within us. You have what you need to choose to live from your happiness. What’s stopping you right now? What’s today’s obstacle?


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33 thoughts on “Embracing Your Obstacle”

  1. In early January, I lifted something too heavy and injuried something in my left shoulder and arm. Finally after a couple of months, I went to see a medical doctor. They took x-rays and the bones looked in place, so the only option I was given is excerise and a cortisone shot. It hurt so much that I finally consented to have the cortisone shot, which turned out to be a big mistake, as soon the arm still hurt and now I had a severe rash on the arm also. After 4 months dealing with the rash, I finally had a physical and they suggested I see another specialist for the rash, which I did. He put me on a cortisone cream which cleared up the rash in 5-7 days, so I am so happy all that itching has stopped.
    I have been exercising the left arm daily and the pain is much better and I am finally able to close a car door with that arm. All the while I have done daily self-treatments to myself of reiki. It took a long time, but maybe by the end of the year I will again have full strenght in my arm.
    Pam, do you have any ideas on how I could speed things up with the healing. It has been 7 months since the injury.
    I also do reiki shares, sometimes weekly or lately just monthly as others have not been available. I also work with reiki and crystals together.

  2. Hi Pamela, I do self healing with Hatsurei Ho and then go on to send distant healing and once I have done all these I meditate on Kotodamas and symbols. I have just spent today wandering through the house and garden trying to find where I fit in. I have been reading A Course In Miracles and realise that what has been missing is Love. I have been so busy getting the material things right I have neglected Love and now I feel quite cold inside. Are there any meditations to open up a very tightly closed heart? My obstacle? Me and my thoughts!
    I have recently felt that Reiki has not been working like a light has gone out from when I was first attuned. Before Reiki I used to meditate daily connecting to God and my healing was much deeper than it seems through Reiki. I had better results too. Do you think that somehow I have taken the wrong path?

    1. Jo,

      Be careful not to judge your practice or let your thoughts come between you and your Reiki practice. The fact that we can practice Reiki even while we argue with ourselves is a great advantage of this practice! 🙂

      There are times when life is more difficult, either inwardly or outwardly. Perhaps you are in one of those times. Don’t lose heart. If we maintain awareness and openness and make the effort that is timely, we can experience great value and even sweetness even in those times.

      It is possible that your Reiki practice has at least in part brought you to the awareness of what is missing in your life. The practice of gratitude might be useful for you at this time. Practicing gratitude for your practices, for all that comes your way or doesn’t come your way, will help open your heart more fully.

      I’m unclear whether you have a daily hands-on self-practice? That’s where I would start. When you are able, practice in a contemplative way, being present for both the sensations as they appear (or not) and for your state. After you finish your hand placements, take a few minutes to notice your state, contemplate your current practice experience, and gently move into the rest of your day.

      Besides my daily hands-on Reiki practice, I also meditate daily. Meditation and Reiki are companion practices; one does not replace the other.

      1. I do not do hands on practice and will try this and let you know how I get on. These are stressful times for me so hands on practice should help.

      2. Wonderful, Jo. I’ve found that hands-on practice makes a huge difference. I’ll be waiting for your update.

  3. Hello,
    I am new to your web site and was not sure how to put a post on so I have just written what I feel.

    I have completed my Reiki Master/Teacher as part of my spiritual journey. Since starting on my path my life has changed so much. I now rent a beautiful farmhouse which homes my cats, dogs, horses, chickens, two daughters, their boyfriends and 2 foster children. My husband and I both have our dream studios and the house is more than we ever expected. You could say that I have been asking the universe for this for so long and it has delivered exactly what we wanted and more. I meditate every night and some mornings and use Reiki as part of my life, healing and sending energy to those around me. I read and research about our soul journey and understand my place/part in this world and my connection to God. What I cant do is get rid of a feeling of longing inside me. A real need to be alone, amongst the earth and wild things. It is like a frustration that I am in the wrong time. It often manifests in sadness or fear and distance from those around me. I have always felt this way, never really feeling part of this world and this presented in an objectionable child and wilder teenager. I have what I never thought I would have and yet that feeling which has been with me all my life is still here. I thought that Reiki would have changed things and it certainly has in many ways but this feeling is still here.

    1. Jo, do you practice daily hands-on Reiki self-treatment? You only mention practicing for those around you. That would be the first and most significant step.

      The longing you describe sounds like the longing of the deepest heart to experience Oneness. Why not let yourself experience that longing during your hands-on practice, and see where that takes you.

      You may need some guidance in order to avoid confusion as you explore this. The experience itself is a good thing, but the mind can wrap it in confusion.

  4. hi pamela..enjoy your reiki posts very much..they are truly inspiring/helpful.

    i struggle with tinnitus(ringing in the ears) ..it has affected every area in my life in a negative way..i practice reiki and this helps enormously…how can i embrace this ‘obstacle’ in a way that will help me..thank you for your assistance..love and light from scotland..john russell

    1. Thank you for your kind words, John.

      Did the tinnitus bring you to Reiki practice? If so, your gratitude can help you embrace the obstacle. And as your practice brings more benefits, you will have even more gratitude.

      Let the tinnitus inspire you to be truly present in every moment, present and accepting of all that is, and then choose where to place your attention.

      It is very important that you not be choosing to ignore the tinnitus, but rather that you actively choose to place your attention on that which you would like to savor, whether its your sense of well-being in this moment, or the taste of the food you are chewing.

  5. This is a great topic. I very much resonate with the perspective that perceived obstacles are a doorway to deeper understanding and greater freedom as long as I approach them with a non-judgmental attitude of curiosity, open mindedness, and trust. As a result, I have become so much more gentle with myself.
    I have struggled fairly consistently with the topic of self care and utilizing my gifts as it pertains to treating myself. I have a habit of ‘ignoring’ my body. It’s not from lack of knowledge about how to care for myself, but rather, zero motivation to do so (even though I see the benefits of self care in others lives). I can laugh and cry about it at the same time – it’s frustrating –
    I want to start with daily self treatment – that sounds great!! I downloaded the chime app someone above mentioned.

  6. You know I just woke up after a couple really hard days and was feeling a lot better until I read this and gave brief thought to what may be holding me back and instantly began crying. I feel like for so long I have tried and worked really hard at gaining approval that never has happened. My parents, really, is where it stems from. I’ve done really well over all; I had twins at age 16 and have been on my own since then- married and divorced-worked my way off welfare by put timing myself thrust college and becoming a reiki master teacher, and now at age 38 I have five beautiful boys all of whom now the power and value of the goddess- the universal life force and the great Mother Earth and I have done well thus far. But it’s still fear that’s holding me back. Fear of not being taken seriously or valued for my healing gifts.
    For the past few years I’ve struggled hard with addiction and now I’m back on track and my healing ability, intuition, and universal understanding has increased by a million, yet I’m still afraid to put myself out there to the world despite the positive feedback I have received. It’s so sad really to be given this gift to help not just myself and family but the world at large! If you have any thoughts to rid myself if thus plaguing feeling please tell otherwise please send well wishes. I hear the universe’s call drawing near and my fear shall be released – just please the easy way. I have been thru to much trauma in this life to take on much more! Blesses Bee and thanks for allowing me to share!

    1. Samara, do you practice hands-on self-Reiki every day? If you do not, then that is where I suggest you start. The consistency of your self-practice goes a long way to calming fears.

      When we self-practice regularly, we begin to live in greater alignment, and live with an increasing sense of ease, even as we address difficult moments.

      It is of course natural to want the approval of our parents, but ultimately, we need to approve our ourselves. This is a daring test of our self-love and discernment, to be able to look squarely at what we would like to do better, but without self-condemnation.

      Why not find the joy that comes with being yourself? After all, you are the only person you get to be! 🙂

      You might enjoy reading about sitting in your authentic self https://reikiinmedicine.org/healthful-lifestyle/authentic-reiki-healing.

  7. Patricia Scheder

    Dear Pamela,
    I agree, it is hard to stay centered in today’s world and I encourage everyone to believe in the power we each have to take care of ourselves with Reiki.
    I have been practicing Reiki for 8 years and coordinate a free Reiki program at our local hospital. Just like everyone else, my personal life has issues especially with taking care of a 91 year old parent with Dementia. But self practice at night and providing Reiki to patients who need care is such a wonderful energy builder! When we give, we get. It is that simple. My life change the day of my 1st attunment and I live a “mostly balanced” life due to Reiki, practice of the Reiki principals and the association with other wonderful practitioners. Patty Scheder, Winchester Virginia

    1. Thank you, Patty, for pointing out how keeping our systems balanced through daily Reiki self-treatment often translates into having more energy to do what we need to do and what we want to do.

  8. Hi, Pamela –

    Thank you for this post and for your responses to the other comments. Reiki found me not too long ago, and the timing was no accident. Its presence in my life allowed me to move through the days before and after my father’s death with a faith that all would be okay, that the Universe has a plan, and that even death can be for the greatest good.

    The obstacle I now face is that, a year after my dad’s death, I am moving through a deeply transformative period of “coming to terms” with the relationship (or lack thereof) that I had with him (and beginning to understand where some of the roots of my tendency toward depression lie). Although introspection, therapy, yoga, and Reiki are all a part of my routine these days, sometimes the pain of “going there” and allowing myself to feel and let the stuck energy move is just plain scary. I also feel an incredible amount of nausea on a pretty consistent basis, and I am certain it is related to the stress of taking responsibility for my healing and the anxiety it is bringing up.

    Sometimes I just need to turn everything off, and then I get out of my rhythm and routine of a daily self-practice. It is also a frustratingly slow process; I just want it to MOVE already. I appreciate any words of encouragement or practical advice you can offer.

    1. Molly, why not approach your Reiki self-practice as gentle, loving self-care? Save the investigation for other practices (maybe try journaling?) and let your Reiki time be a haven during which you feel safe and deeply nourished and cared for, instead of making it hard.

  9. After a major health crisis 12 years ago – a blessing disguised as life-threatening – i find my START button stuck in the OFF position. Articles, short stories and novels stay unwritten. Meditations not begun. And so forth.

    Just reading your replies so far have given me back a tool. Start with 1 minute of self-treatment, morning and evening.

    Bless all for the reminder.

    1. Great idea, Oriethyia. And who knows, you may enjoy your self-practice so much that one minute lasts a long time! 🙂

  10. Pamela,

    I practice daily hands on Reiki and it’s invaluable with calming me and giving a early morning sense of balance, but I can easily loose this calm when I start to think of the events in my life I need to change. I’m looking for a roommate to rent a room in my apt, I am looking for another job, and I wanted to start a Reiki website but need a new computer. I belief there is something in me that pushes away the good that comes to me. A lack of trust in myself and this extends to others and my decision making process. I enjoyed the JCC Spa Day immensely. Kim

    1. So good to have you with us for Spa Day, Kim! Thank you for your participation.

      The tendency is to address every obstacle at once, but that doesn’t work. You’ve made a list of your obstacles, now prioritize them easy to not-so-easy to address. Start with the easiest and write down three things you can do to address it. Then do them. Getting engaged in problem-solving builds confidence, and confidence gets us going on real doable actions instead of anxiously spinning our wheels.

      We all have areas where we don’t trust ourselves. Instead of functioning from that place, find a place of confidence — no matter how small — and take steps from there.

      Trust is not black and white; it’s right now, today only. And when you feel anxious, place your hand. Every time.

      The tendency toward anxiety may not go away, but you can change your response to it.

      1. Thank you Pamela for the very practical, step by step constructive advice. No multi-tasking just simple steps that build upon each other. This feels more do-able and gracefull as well as easefull to me. And I need to acknowledge myself for each step. Yes, anxiety has been a life time scenario for me but if I can remember to pause and breathe and use my Reiki hands, maybe I can respond with consciousness.

      2. There is no maybe, Kim. If you remember to pause and breath and place your Reiki hands, you will respond to what’s in front of you with mindful awareness. That’s guaranteed 🙂

    1. Lisa, First degree Reiki — sometimes called Level 1 — is the entry level, hands-on training in which students learn how to practice Reiki self-treatment, and to share treatment informally with family, friends, and pets. Read more about Reiki First degree training here.

  11. Hi Pamela. I am so looking forward to this next seminar in the series. I will be hearing it after the event as I will be away on a journey into the wonder of the Kakadu National Park here in Australia.
    So many obstacles have shifted since I restarted disciplined daily self practice, it is an absolute joy in my life and I thank you for your guidance through your book, web site and updates. I have found the addition of a simple free app on my phone of Reiki Chime has made such a difference, it allows me to totally relax into the practice of each position. I know you find your beautiful timer chime a help. I restarted my practice by setting the timer to 1 minute for each hand position and once the daily routine became a central part to my day, I have gradually increased the time setting.
    An obstacle I am aware of for myself is a lack of comfort and an unwillingness in receiving from others, in life as well as in Reiki. I am a great giver in lots of areas of life, and often in that role. I enjoy the few Reiki Share groups I have had the chance to attend but am aware when it is my turn to receive I am not fully open and trusting. I am aware that by nature a very self contained person and do not give my trust lightly.
    If there is anything in the webinar covering this area that will be great.
    With light and love. Judy

    1. Judy, always good to hear the difference daily self-practice is making for someone.

      Perhaps as a giver you might be motivated to give others the gift of giving to you.

      1. Thank you for your reply Pamela, a wonderful way to change my thinking. I shall work with that

  12. I have done my level 2 reiki attunement, but after that I was not able to practice. Actually I started learning this bcoz of my probs with my inlaw, now I am even more frustated that I am not able to meditate also. I really wants to continue doing reiki. Please help me. Thank u so much. Much regards


      1. I really donno what’s holding me. I have a small kid but that should not be a reason. I feel something else, somedays I will not get up early and somedays my girl won’t sleep, one or other reasons but I don’t want any reasons to hinder my practice, I want to learn the 3rd level, but without practcing the 2nd level I don’t feel it is justified. Rally worried. Can u help me?

      2. I agree there is no reason to take more classes, especially if you are not practicing. The reason to take classes is to practice. So practice in bed, as you are waking up, or as you are falling asleep, every day without fail, get your Reiki hands on your body. See if you notice any small difference after practicing for a week. That will help motivate you to continue.

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