5 things that hinder Buddhist practice….and the antidotes

The five hindrances and antidotes

In Buddhism, there are five things that hinder our practice and make us more prone to unskilful or unwholesome behaviour.

These 5 hindrances are desire, aversion, sloth, restlessness and doubt

For each of these there are some simple antidotes that are suggested to counter their strength and effects.

Hindrance: Desire/attraction
This is really about distraction. If you are getting strong sensations of desire or attraction of any type, your grasping for what is desired becomes your focus of attention and can cloud your reason and judgement….as well as making it very difficult to meditate!

Antidotes:

Observe impermanence – note the rise and fall of all things, see that everything is always changing. This could be as simple as returning to your breath and noting its rise and fall…. or going for a walk and seeing things in nature that demonstrate change and impermanence. The point here is that there is no sense in grasping and clinging to things you desire because what you imagine you want has already ceased to exist in its original form.

Practice sense restraint – Notice when your attraction and desire for something is triggered, by what senses….and then practice restraining yourself from responding to the trigger and sensation within you. For example, smelling bread baking in your kitchen and refraining from eating a piece because the smell sensation triggered fake hunger pangs.

Hindrance: Aversion/ill-will

Antidote:

Metta: Loving Kindness
Refer my artice in the meditation category – meditation on love
Another practice that I personally find wonderful in countering ill-will is, when walking, to silently say to every being you come across “may you be happy, may you be free from suffering”. It is impossible to harbour ii-will when you are busy wishing everyone you see happiness!

Hindrance: Sloth/torpor/dullness

Antidotes:

Visualise light and energy – visualisation is a great technique for self-motivation!

Walking meditation – any form of exercise is a great energy booster!

Rest for short time – you may really need a nap!

Sit through and rouse energy i.e. sheer determination!

Questioning/insight meditation – seek to understand the sensations and mental processes that you are labelling as low energy. Any thing that is fully understood no longer exists.

Hindrance: Restlessness

Antidotes:

Stop distractions – calmly continue to bring your focus back to your breath whenever distracted

Sit with the silence and be mindful: watch restlessness arise and pass away

Hindrance: Doubt

Antidotes:

Ask yourself – is it wholesome or unwholesome to be having this doubt?

Consider the value of this practice to yourself – review the many benefits

Meditate on the 3 conditions: impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and not self

Confirm faith in your practice by getting out and having direct experiences that validate the benefits

The above article is merely an overview of the five hindrances and some antidotes. Feel free to ask questions, read other articles on my blog for supporting posts and/ or do your own googling for further information!

Stephanie Mohan
January 26th 2013

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Categories: 8 fold path

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