Day 296 – Craving, ill will, sloth and torpor, restlessness, and doubt. These are the five hindrances we encounter in the stillness of meditation. We are conditioned to them. Whereas the five afflictions of ignorance, egoism, desire, aversion and fear of death are “humanity’s essential predicament,” the five hinderances are the “habits of mind [that] are alive and well admist the distractions of everyday life.
Meditations, writes Rolf, reveals to us “the habitual pathways of our minds,” perhaps convincing us that meditation isn’t working. Yesterday, I was restless. Today, I craved a cup of coffee and I did my meditation in shavasana because I am tired. Rolf suggests that “understanding that these habits are alive in our lives and that they are not who we are is the first step in the process called pratyahara.”
On my journey toward health, or just to lead a balanced full life, I have tried to cultivate positive habits, but I have done very little shadow work. However, in calling out our bad habitual thought patterns (these five hinderances), I have come to recognize that I can’t just hide them away or ignore them as I try to develop positive habits. I must deal with them, as they truly do stand in the way of meditation. And, meditation, is key to calming the mind, the last frontier for an over-exerciser, clean-eating workaholic.