Hindrances

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.

Hindrances

Postby clw_uk » Thu Feb 05, 2009 10:16 pm

Im a bit confused to how to deal with hindrances with meditation. I deal with them by watching them rise and then fall away however some teaches advise to deal with them directly to remove them straight away via there counterparts

Which is the correct way to deal with the hindrances or are both acceptable they just suite different individuals?
“ Your mind is likewise blocked. But the right road awaits you still. Cast out your doubts, your fears and your desires, let go of grief and of hope as well, for where these rule , then the mind is their subject." Boetius
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Re: Hindrances

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Feb 05, 2009 10:51 pm

Greetings Craig,

I would recommend removing them because they are indeed hindrances.

The Five Mental Hindrances and Their Conquest
Selected Texts from the Pali Canon and the Commentaries
Compiled and translated by Nyanaponika Thera
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el026.html

That said, that doesn't mean you don't be mindful of them either. An extract from...

MN 10 - Satipatthana Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

"There is the case where a monk remains focused on mental qualities in & of themselves with reference to the five hindrances. And how does a monk remain focused on mental qualities in & of themselves with reference to the five hindrances? There is the case where, there being sensual desire present within, a monk discerns that 'There is sensual desire present within me.' Or, there being no sensual desire present within, he discerns that 'There is no sensual desire present within me.' He discerns how there is the arising of unarisen sensual desire. And he discerns how there is the abandoning of sensual desire once it has arisen. And he discerns how there is no future arising of sensual desire that has been abandoned. (The same formula is repeated for the remaining hindrances: ill will, sloth & drowsiness, restlessness & anxiety, and uncertainty.)


In summary, there is a middle way between mindfully allowing hindrances to over-run your meditation, and an all-out frenzied assault against them. Well, that's my take anyway.

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Re: Hindrances

Postby clw_uk » Thu Feb 05, 2009 11:05 pm

Thank you for those links I will look into it.

In summary, there is a middle way between mindfully allowing hindrances to over-run your meditation, and an all-out frenzied assault against them. Well, that's my take anyway.


I agree with this, before I just used to go focus all my effort on supressing them but found i became frustrated and they just grew, then I tried ignoring them and they just grew again.

What I do now is when they crop up I tend to watch them but from a distance and they do seem to die down on their own, i was just concerned that this was wrong practice incase you shouldnt let them into your awareness at all.
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Re: Hindrances

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Feb 05, 2009 11:20 pm

Greetings Craig,

clw_uk wrote:What I do now is when they crop up I tend to watch them but from a distance and they do seem to die down on their own, i was just concerned that this was wrong practice incase you shouldnt let them into your awareness at all.


My take is that regardless of what meditation you're doing, you aim to overcome the hindrances. However, if the meditation method is vipassana/satipatthana then there's more scope to make the hindrance itself an object of your focus. If you're doing samatha meditation, you wouldn't do this. Again... just my take.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Hindrances

Postby zavk » Sun Feb 15, 2009 5:02 am

Hi all,

Was reading about the hindrances and was reminded of this thread. This is how Ven. Analayo schematises the hindrances in his book:

Image

Ven Analayo talks about using the technique of 'simple recognition' to deal with the hindrances.

He writes, 'This technique of simple recognition constitutes an ingenious way of turning obstacles to meditation into meditation objects [he cites Bhante Gunaratana's The Path of Serenity and Insight, p.44, & Thera Nanaponika's The Power of Mindfulness,p. 21]. Practised in this way, bare awareness of a hindrance becomes a middle path between suppression and indulgence [he cites the Anguttara Nikaya i 295 for such a portrayal of the practice]. Several discourses beautifully illustrate the powerful effect of this simple act of recognition by describing how the tempter Mara, who often acts as a personification of the five hindrances, loses his powers as soon as he is recognized [he cites the Samyutta Nikaya i 103-35]' (p. 190).

I don't think the two stages are mutually exclusive; they are both underpinned by sati. Ven. Analayo's model is instructive in illustrating the multiple points of 'attack' one can take when dealing with hindrances. So according to this schema, one can practice satipatthana of the hindrances either by simply being aware of them or by contemplating/analysising them with various countermeasures. But it seems to me that Ven. Analayo is suggesting that bare awareness might be an easier first step to dealing with the hindrances. I have personally found such an approach effective.

He also presents this table. The ideas here are from the Papancasudani (i 281-6), the commentary to the Majjihima Nikaya.

Image

Best wishes,
zavk

EDIT: fixed size of pics
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Re: Hindrances

Postby AdvaitaJ » Sun Feb 15, 2009 2:53 pm

clw_uk,

Is there a particular hindrance that causes you more trouble than the others?

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Re: Hindrances

Postby clw_uk » Sun Feb 15, 2009 2:59 pm

Wow thanks Zavk :namaste:


Advaitaj

My main problem is that I keep tend to think about my day, so some conversation i had etc keep comming into my mind, ive been able to deal with it on some level by just watching it rise and fall and investigate it so i get some insight but im trying to develop jhana and so i feel its holding it back a bit
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Re: Hindrances

Postby Ben » Sun Feb 15, 2009 9:58 pm

Hi Craig

Be careful that you are not generating aversion to the process of discursive thought. Unless you are in or near jhana, it is going to be there. What you need to do, and its easy to say but hard to do, is to not engage with it. Don't give it any importance. It can also serve a useful purpose as your own canary in a cage - a signal if you like. If you notice you are placing importance on the internal dialogue, you've effectively lost awareness of your object of meditation. When that happens, go back to the meditation object. The best way to deal with it is with complete equanimity.
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Re: Hindrances

Postby clw_uk » Sun Feb 15, 2009 10:17 pm

Ben thanks you so much, when you said this


Be careful that you are not generating aversion to the process of discursive thought. Unless you are in or near jhana, it is going to be there.


I think it fell into place what im doing wrong, ive been approaching it with the idea that i shouldnt have and discursive thought at all when of course this only happens when in jhana


:namaste:
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Re: Hindrances

Postby zavk » Sun Feb 15, 2009 10:37 pm

Hi Craig,

Yes, very timely reminder from Ben. Trying to suppress discursive thoughts is like a dog trying to catch its own tail.

I have personally found discursive thoughts useful. Because one cannot suppress them, one has no choice but to learn to observe them with equanimity. From time to time, and especially at retreats when sila and sati is strong, I find that I have been able to learn a thing or two about the hindrances from discursive thoughts. I find that because I am simply watch thoughts--and also returning my attention to the primary object (for me it is sensations and/or the breath) whenever I catch myself chasing thoughts--I slowly and quite surreptitiously begin to understand what state of mind has arisen. The kind of discursive thoughts present in my mind clues me into what state of mind has arisen. Without indulging in thoughts but simply watching them, I begin to recognise which hindrance is dominant. And upon recognising that, the hindrance starts to subside.

So discursive are not necessarily 'bad' or 'undesirable'. They can be the stepping stone for insight and even jhana. But I think one needs strong sati. And the most effective way to cultivate sati is to work with the primary object of meditation. I'm not saying that I'm always successful with watching thoughts. I have to continuously snap myself out of discursive rumination and return myself to the primary object. But whilst doing this, I try to be careful that I don't generate aversion towards this process--even if that's all I seem to do during the entire sitting. That is, I try not to think that the presence of thoughts or my constant distraction by thoughts is an indication of my 'failure' to meditate 'successfully'. To think that way is to play into the hands of the hindrances. Sneaky bastards they are. :)

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Re: Hindrances

Postby AdvaitaJ » Mon Feb 16, 2009 12:35 am

clw_uk,

I got a great tip from an Andrea Fella podcast in which she revealed Joseph Goldstein's "secret teaching" on maintaining awareness of the breath, if you feel that will help. Basically, she said the secret is, with every in-breath, remind yourself to watch the next breath. I know it sounds like overkill, but it has certainly worked for me. I forget exactly how she described it, but I tend to view it like low gear on a bicycle; you're pedaling like crazy, but it's real easy to go uphill. Then, after you get everything calmed down, back to normal. Good luck!

AdvaitaJ
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Re: Hindrances

Postby nathan » Mon Feb 16, 2009 5:27 am

I think examining the nature of, understanding the workings of and developing skill in overcoming of the hindrances is centrally important to the rest of our practice. Skillfulness with the hindrances touches on every part of our practice and while most obviously necessary in the further developments of insight and tranquility in meditation it is no less important in the development of virtue and wisdom. I don't think this kind of effort can ever receive too much of our attention.

I would like to see the hindrances receive a lot more general attention. Focusing on the role of the hindrances in my own mind has been far more instructive than I would have ever imagined before looking into the hindrances carefully for a long time. All of us would, of course, simply like to put the hindrances behind us and move quickly on to the many good things that await us when the hindrances are either suppressed or not arising for one reason or another. But they will return again and again to remind us of where we are really at. So, we have on the one hand a problem, getting past the hindrances and on with hindrance free practices and on the other hand, an opportunity to learn some very important things about our ongoing mental conditions.

I have found that I have learned more about refining both calm or concentration practices and insight practices by attending to the hindrances than I ever did by avoiding dealing with the hindrances. It is beneficial to the basic development of insight skills to be able to examine with equanimity the hindrances as they arise, persist and disappear. It is further beneficial to insight development to examine the causes of the arising and persisting and disappearing of the hindrances. It is beneficial to both insight and concentration development to employ the discernment of causes for hindrances to arise as a cause to abandon those conditions which cause hindrances to arise and to promote and develop those conditions for hindrances not to arise. This is also true for the development of virtue, equanimity, compassion, knowledge of things as they are and wisdom.

I hope to see the development of a greater emphasis on the significance of the hindrances, a richer and more insightful literature on the subject and additional practical teachings on the subject as well as more threads like this one. Thanks for the thread OP.
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