The Yoga Sutra warns that there are nine obstacles (the antaraya) on our path. The third of these obstacles is called “samshaya.” The Buddha also warned of five hindrances, called the “kilesas.” The fifth of these hindrances is the same as samshaya; it is doubt. Doubt can cause all your efforts to be in vain.

The cure for doubt is shraddha or faith. Faith is the basis for every religion and every spiritual practice. If one has no faith, all sacrifice is in vain, all effort is wasted. Faith is found in every aspect of your daily life. We have faith when we go to bed at night that we will awaken in the morning. We have faith that when we go to work in the morning, our business will still be there. We have faith that when we are hungry, food will be available. These seem obvious, but what if this faith was lacking? If you were worried about not waking up tomorrow morning, your effort to sleep would be drastically affected. If you doubted that food would be available for your next meal, all your attention during the day would be focused on that concern.

Faith is not always rewarded. There are times when things don’t work out the way we expected, but, considering how often faith is rewarded, those few times are the exceptions that prove the rule. Faith allows us to function skillfully; faith leads toward the world we desire.

When we work to A.W.A.K.E.N., we do so with the faith that it will succeed. We can increase this faith through visualizations and affirmations. During your next meditation create a picture, sitting across from you, of your older self. Picture the “you” that you will be in five years from now. Notice how good you look, notice how strong and healthy you appear notice that glow of wellness all around you. Notice too how happy you will be in the future, how calm and wise you will be. Notice all the other attributes you wish you had today, but think you are lacking.

Your future self has all those attributes – notice them. Don’t just see them in your mind’s eye but feel them; hear them too. When you have a complete picture of your future self, including sounds and feelings, allow your future self to approach you, bless you, and teach you. Hear your future self tell you that all will be as you expect it to be. Feel yourself give you a big, tight hug and merge into you. You are already that future self; within you, right now, are the seeds of all these future attributes. Sense these seeds deep inside, already beginning to germinate. Know that, within a few years, these seed will have grown.

(Next: Now! )