Hindrances to Meditation
The hindrances we encounter in meditation are the same as those we face in life generally. Patterns of distraction, ill-will, boredom and obsession can unconsciously drive much of the way we think, speak and behave. In meditation we deepen our awareness of these patterns and learn how to respond to them wisely.
It can be a great relief to ‘normalise’ the experience of hindrances. It’s not uncommon for people to think that these patterns mean they can’t meditate. Rather than seeing these patterns as personal flaws, we can learn to recognise them as universal human patterns.
Traditionally, five hindrances are identified.
Sloth and Torpor
Responses to the hindrances
There are a variety of creative responses to the hindrances that arise. Meditation can never be reduced to a mechanistic technique. It is an art and a way of life. Many people find the acronym RAIN gives a useful framework for beginning to work with hindrances.
Recognise the hindrances
Accept and allow it. Give it space
What is it like? In the body? The thoughts?
Not personal, not-self.
This is a passing process not an identity.
Can you see the ‘hindrances’ arising in your experience? Remind yourself that these are normal patterns that arise when we practice meditation and begin to explore creative responses using the RAIN teaching.
Working with hindrances
Practice the meditation on hindrance for twenty minutes each day.
In your journal, you may wish to explore how these patterns arise in everyday life. Working with these patterns in meditation practice helps us to respond to them more generally, and bring greater freedom into our lives.