We're going along fine, being mindful, taking exercise, having our emotional nutrition, trying our hardest. Then, just as we feel we're getting somewhere, out of the blue something happens that up-ends us. It might be a thought that somehow pops up, a phone call, reading something, seeing someone or something. Then, before we can say 'peace and calm' we're off to the races, mind out of control, emotions all over the place, and the result is rarely what we might choose. We've just hit a snake in our game of snakes and ladders. It feels devastating as we thought we were progressing well.
But, we forget, climbing the ladder of mindful practice is quite a challenge, slow, one rung at a time. Progress is often tiring, somewhat tedious and even plain boring. Snakes, on the other hand, come suddenly and we slide rapidly with little effort down into familiar places we are working so hard to get away from.
The trick, I guess, is to get the ladders longer than the snakes. Also, we need to remember that if this stuff was easy then there would not be monasteries and retreats in the middle of nowhere, away from adversity. Even with no activating agents in the environment our own minds will throw up plenty to trip us up.
But setbacks are just that, setbacks. Delays are not denials. Lets just see the snakes for what they are and develop strategies to cope with them too.