The Five Things Keeping You From Meditating

Whether it’s starting a practice or sticking with it, this will help

Photo by Isabell Winter on Unsplash
  1. Ill-will — this is any anger, resentment, or hostility. It can come from thoughts, but it could also arise from other things. Imagine that you feel a sensation in your back during meditation that your brain categorizes as pain. You may start to feel uncomfortable, and then begin to get angry and resentful towards the teacher. Ill-will can arise in all sorts of situations.
  2. Sloth and Torpor — this is when you start feeling sleepy or tired during meditation. This can also look like a lack of motivation and even depression. It’s a feeling of heaviness.
  3. Restlessness and worry — we all know what this feels like, your mind can’t settle, you can’t stop thinking, you feel like you are going to crawl out of your skin. Again, this can be during meditation or just during your day. This is often something that keeps people from trying to meditate in the first place.
  4. Doubt — Lack of conviction or trust. Last week I mentioned that setting an intention was important for decreasing a lack of faith. This is all of those thoughts that start to creep in… “am I doing this right?”, “what’s the point?” “Why even bother?” Doubt can be towards the practice, or yourself.

Being able to identify the hindrance is sometimes enough for us to overcome it.

For each of these hindrances, there are different things prescribed. Each one has a particular way it’s dealt with. If you find yourself struggling with any of these, read on to see how to deal with it.

  1. Every time ill-will arises, it’s due to our desire to physically separate from something that is causing us pain. Sometimes, simply recognizing that this ill-will is coming from a desire, and then applying the steps above for desire is enough to help. But sometimes ill-will hooks us and doesn’t let us go. For this, if you find yourself dealing with anger and resentment a lot, a compassion practice is essential. Continue with the meditation program here, but know that compassion meditation may be the next step for you after this challenge is over.
  2. Sloth and Torpor are often just addressed by realizing that you are tired and doing something about it. If you always fall asleep during meditation, you may need more sleep. Be sure not to only practice before bed, and not to practice lying down. You can get up and splash some water on your face, then return to practice. You can also meditate with your eyes open, or try walking meditation. We need to be careful not to confuse the pleasurable state of sleepiness and relaxation with higher states of meditative consciousness! Meditation takes concentration. It takes effort.
  3. Restlessness and Worry — almost an opposite state; this is the proliferation of thoughts when we are spiraling out into the future and finding many, too many things to think about. For this mind state, it is essential to recognize it’s happening. Taking the time to step into an observing mind is crucial. The worry and anxiety are still there, but you are noticing that it is there. Know that these thoughts do not require your attention. Come back to your intention. Come back to your practice. Know that if you can focus your mind even for a split-second, you are succeeding.
  4. Finally, doubt can be a powerful deterrent to practicing. An antidote is to remind yourself of your intention. Be open and curious. You don’t know what is going to result from your practice; no one does! Remind yourself that many other people have found peace through these practices. Finding a trusted teacher or guide can be helpful here too.

Psychologist and Human mood ring.

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