Years ago, the Buddha taught about the five hindrances that not only keep us from developing a deep meditation practice but also hinder us in our daily lives. Those five are: sensual desire, ill will/anger, sloth, restlessness/worry, and uncertainty/doubt.

Sensual desire comes up as longing after things I do not have. It comes from envy and not appreciating or being grateful for what I have.
Ill-will stems from resentments that I have not dealt with and can rob my peace of mind.
Sloth is insidious and can be hidden by my telling myself, I need it. I find myself not doing the things I should be doing and it is attached to avoidance.
Restlessness is the feeling of impatience, a thirst for excitement, or a constant feeling of being unsettled. Worry is brooding of what might or might not be.
Doubt is the inability to decide and makes us wonder if what we are doing, or have done, is the right thing.

In Insight Meditation we are taught to not fight these things but to look at them and to cultivate the five cardinal virtues of confidence, energy, mindfulness, concentration and wisdom, which can reduce the harmful influence of the hindrances.

I have found that at one time or another, I have had to deal with these five hindrances not only in my meditation practice but in life as well. They do not all pop up at once but usually one or two at a time.

Right now it is doubt and sloth that I am dealing with. When I was working many hours, doing meetings and yoga, sloth was really never an issue. I would go from dawn to dusk without a minutes rest. Now that I am in the midst of redirecting my life, it is easy to fall into both doubt and sloth.

Everyday I work at making sure these two hindrances do not cause me to become lazy and unsure of my decisions. Meditation certainly helps, as does action. The important thing is recognizing the hindrances that are present in our life. Without realization it is impossible to do the necessary work to ensure that they are not controlling our lives and us. We cannot find a solution if we do not know the problem.

Are you dealing with a hindrance right now and if so, what? I’d love to hear from you.

Quote of the Week

Peace of mind is not the absence of conflict from life, but the ability to cope with it.
Author Unknown

Leave a Reply