When Practice Circle meets again this Sunday, May 27th, at 6 p.m. Pacific, 7 Mountain, 8 Central and 9 Eastern, we’ll explore the Five Hindrances in meditation practice, guided by Amy Balentine
We all experience obstacles or difficulties in meditation, which can lead to discouragement or a belief that we aren’t capable of meditation. When left unidentified, the Five Hindrances can overshadow and derail practice, without our awareness or understanding of how to respond when we encounter them in meditation. The Five Hindrances include desire, aversion, sloth and torpor, restlessness, and doubt.
Desire or attachment becomes a hindrance when we mentally cling to something, such a fantasy we wish to entertain. What we desire may be either wholesome or unwholesome. The obstacle isn’t the object of our desires, but rather our clinging attachment to it and our inability to accept the reality of the present.
The hindrance of aversion leads us to push away that which we find undesirable or repulsive. This hindrance can lead to ill-will, or a wish for harm to come to someone or something we regard as an obstacle.
Sloth and torpor, or dullness and drowsiness, is another hindrance that is an obstacle to cultivating our meditation practice. When the body is lethargic and sleepy and the mind is dull and unfocused, we can easily fall asleep.
Restlessness is the energetic opposite of sloth and torpor. This hindrance manifests in a busy and agitated mind which is filled with disconnected thoughts. Often these thoughts take the form of planning, worrying, self-judgment, or remorse. This hindrance may manifest in the body as muscle tension and frequent movement during meditation.
The final hindrance of doubt leads us to question whether we are practicing properly as well as whether meditation is of value. We may become distracted from our practice and fall into discursive thought when we are caught up in doubt. In the extreme, it can lead to giving up on practice altogether.
In this upcoming Practice Circle we’ll have a half hour of lightly guided meditation and reflection, followed by partner sharing and group discussion about what hindrances we are encountering, and how to meet the hindrances when they arise.