Tuesday, August 22nd 2017

Overcoming Obstacles with Ganesha

I ran into a solution for overcoming obstacles when I first started writing. I met a god named Ganesha who helped me through writer’s block. I keep a postcard with his picture above my computer, and he helps keep the words flowing. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that an elephant-headed Hindu deity is watching over you. That axe you see in his hand — it’s for cutting the bonds that tie you down or hold you back. A really useful tool.

Some people advocate list making as a rational tool for dealing with your problems. The belief is that the act of writing your obstacles down helps you minimize their perceived influence. Make a list of the obstacles you face on the left hand side of a piece of paper and writing down the assets you have at your disposal to overcome on the right hand side. Maybe the exercise will help you gain perspective on your problems. Maybe you’ll realize that the things you feel are standing in your way can be easily dispatched or you’ll discover new resources that you can bring to fight through them. Maybe the whole idea of sitting down with a blank sheet of paper and trying to make a list seems too difficult or time consuming–that’s okay too–problems are a special form of inebriation and it can be hard to sober up.

That’s one of the reasons I’m a big Ganesha fan. It’s a great relief to imagine all my obstacles wiped away like so many splattered bugs in advance of a windshield wiper. There are lots of great online resources to further study the deity. Try: About.com or JHU if you want to read more. You can even read about Ganesha’s festival. My favorite is the picture hosted on NTU’s site which describes the God’s attributes, it’s worth checking out so try this link.

Once you get friendly with the idea of Ganesha as your personal helper, you might try this prayer:

Aum shuklambaradharam vishnum
Shashivarnam chaturbhujam
Prasanna vadanam dhyayet
Sarva vighnopa shantaye

Which translates to:

Aum, attired in white and all-pervading,
O moon-hued, four-shouldered One
with smiling face so pleasing,
upon You we meditate
for removing all obstacles.

Saying the prayer may help focus your mind on what it is that you have to do. Maybe it helps relax you. It could tie your tounge up with words foreign to you and that’s okay too–you can still get all the positive benefits from such an exercise.

You may find it useful to just keep a picture of Ganesha around wherever it is that you face your obstacles. I put my postcard of the deity near my computer. Maybe it’s useful for you to do the same or maybe it feels better to put him by your bathroom mirror so you are reminded of the help he gives you each morning when you brush your teeth. There are lots of great pictures of Ganesha online, try printing one out: Ganesha 1, Ganesha 2, Ganesha 3. Search for you own favorite.

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5 Comments on “Overcoming Obstacles with Ganesha”

  1. This is really interesting. Especially when you consider the western view of saints. Very interesting!

  2. Really neat article! Loved the part about the axe...what are some of the other attributes and what do they mean? The snake? The elephant head? What's that about?

  3. Really fascinating! Sort of like having a charm for your wall.

  4. I really like how you wove the spiritual angle into this advice piece. It's news you can use.

  5. [...] or in strangely-shaped pit stains on my shirt. The cement Buddha in the garden, the likeness of Ganesha in the living room, and the Menorah with the holiday decorations are hopeful declarations of my [...]

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