Sometimes we feel that we are spinning our wheels in the mud regarding our spiritual progress. This can be especially true following a period of significant growth in which we feel we’ve gained a lot of ground. This is the way growth goes — periods of intense forward movement give way to periods of what seems like stagnation. In those moments when we feel discouraged, it’s helpful to remember that we never really go backward. We may be at a standstill because there is a new obstacle in our paths or a new layer to get through, but the hard work we have done cannot be undone.
Every step on the path is meaningful, and even one that seems to take us backward is a forward step in the sense that it is what we must do to move to the next level. In addition, an intense growth spurt requires that we rest to fully integrate the new energies liberated by our hard work. When we feel we are not making progress, we can encourage ourselves to take a moment to rest. We can meditate more, feed ourselves well, and get extra sleep. Before we know it, we will be spurred on to work toward the next level of our development, and this rest will make sense then as something we need to continue.
Once the sun rises, it doesn’t go backward but instead follows its path in one direction. It may appear to stand still for a moment or to move more slowly at some point, but it is steadily moving forward on its path. We are the same way and can never return once we have moved through something. We may be resting or revisiting issues that seem old, and it’s natural to feel stuck, but in truth, we are always taking the next important step forward on our path.