I have been thinking about what stops me from achieving my goals, sitting meditation, doing my wolfpack weight workout, reconciling a fractured relationship, really anything. My meditation teachers speak of “hindrances” to practice. These are five energies that arise that can make it difficult for us to honor our commitments. I believe these energies take us off center as we move about our life. Here they are:
- Expectation which can look like wanting, pushing, clinging or attachment. This energy can bring our focus to the future; a desire for something to be better, different or more than what I have now. Expectation can also bring our attention to the past via comparison. Comparing my fitness, strength or weight to last month, last year or how I looked ten years ago. And to jealousy comparing myself, life, finances to what I perceive others have.
- Aversion can look like negativity, dislike, irritation, annoyance, self hatred and physical pain. This can arise when difference enters the room or our mind set. This is when we can’t accept how we are or how we look. Allison Tenney spoke to it so beautifully on her Instagram feed here.
- Boredom and Tiredness. These can be subtle blocks for us. Boredom could be a coping mechanism to discomfort or pain. Maybe you need to have a difficult conversation and the thought of that conversation causes fear anxiety or pressure or heat in the body. So to take our mind off we play solitaire on our phone or binge watch Netflix. We label that boredom when actually we are avoiding (see above) or trying to self sooth from the thought of something. Tiredness is tricky, it could be anything from being sleepy to full on exhaustion. And self care may seem to say it’s time to rest. It will take deep discernment to see when you are tired and need to rest and when is the tiredness a block to your commitment.
- Agitation which could look like, restlessness, worry, guilt, anxiety or busyness. The busyness allows us to disguise this hindrance as the energy of we are hard at work. And in actuality we are distracted or saying yes to things that divert our attention from our true path.
- Skepticism and Doubt this might be the most difficult of the blocks to overcome. This is where we doubt our abilities, our coaches, our teachers and our TRUTH. This energy can foster ignorance as well as pseudo wisdom that you start to believe. Be careful here as skepticism and doubt arise our faith and confidence falls.
If we are not careful we can find ourselves hooked by these blocks, believing the thoughts and mind states that are masquerading as THE truth. We then wake up days, weeks even years later wondering why we haven’t created or completed what we have set out to accomplish.
There is a path forward in working with each of these energies that can restore us to center over and over again.
- Recognize you are off kilter, out of sync, ungrounded, off center. This skill alone can take some time to cultivate. I have found that I may realize, oh yes last week I was out of balance and that knowledge is great. Mastery comes when you see it in the moment.
- Name what is happening. Be specific. Once you recognize that a hindrance is arising, name exactly what it is can help ground us and be present in the moment. One of my teachers says, “there is no doubt in the present moment.”
- Allow what is happening. In other words, accept the energy/experience to be. Don’t push it away. When we push away or push toward it can cause us to cultivate hatred and dissatisfaction. What arising can be seen as neutral, nothing more.
Once we can recognize, name it and allow what is happening; we can cultivate the skills to work with our hindrances and have the space to take our most powerful next step.