It is a frequent and universal experience that when an individual takes up the practice of yoga, there are periods of great enthusiasm, aspiration is active and progress is palpable. It is however virtually impossible to maintain the intensity of the sadhana all the time, so as the action of the 3 Gunas brings about changes in the inner psychology, the feeling of aspiration, the feeling of focus and commitment fades and the nidividual is left feeling empty or dry, experiences withdraw and there can be periods of time, sometimes uncomfortably long, where one feels like nothing is happening and there is no progress nor chance of progress. The famous Christian narrative, A Pilgrim’s Progress takes the devotee through various stages of discontent, despondency and despair. It is a true relation of the long, dry road that is part of the sadhana and which the seeker must be prepared to withstand and push on through until he comes out the other side. At that time, the seeker can look back and see the actual progress that has been made, as nothing is lost in the sadhana, and times of inactivity, dryness, dullness actually represent periods either for consolidation of deeper experiences, or as times when the basic tamas of the physical consciousness comes to the forefront and needs to be addressed.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “Naturally, the more one-pointed the aspiration the swifter the progress. The difficulty comes when either the vital with its desires or the physical with its past habitual movements comes in — as they do with almost everyone. It is then that the dryness and difficulty of spontaneous aspiration come. This dryness is a well-known obstacle in all sadhana. But one has to persist and not be discouraged. If one keeps the will fixed even in these barren periods, they pass and after their passage a greater force of aspiration and experience becomes possible.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Growing Within: The Psychology of Inner Development, Chapter VI Growth of Consciousness, Difficulties and Pitfalls, pp. 119-120

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at and podcast at He is author of 17 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.