There are many reasons for people to practice meditation. Some do it to get grounded. Some do it to gain peace and to calm the mind. Some do it to relief stress. Whichever is your meditation goal, it is good to find out about the obstacles to your meditation practice. And how to eliminate them.
Today, in this article, we discuss the 5 Obstacles of Meditation. What are these 5 obstacles? How to we remove them? I share with you the hindrances and the solutions here.
#1 Restlessness and Worry
There are two types of restlessness you may face when you meditate. One is the restlessness of the body. The other is the restlessness of the mind. I have meditated for a long time, and sometimes I still encounter such restlessness, either of the body or the mind.
Restlessness of the Body
Even till today, at times, as I sit and meditate, I would sometimes find my body feeling restless. This happens when our bodies are feeling too energized. It can be due to too much stimulants such as coffee. Or just simply feeling hyped.
Sometimes, the feeling can be really uncomfortable. For example, I would be sitting and getting into the meditation. Then suddenly, I feel discomfort in my crossed legs. And I feel a need to stretch my legs.
Sometimes, it can be the body not easily going into a relaxed state. You would take deep breaths but you just cannot sink into a relaxed mode.
Restlessness of the Mind
Then there is the restlessness of the mind. As you begin to meditate, thoughts of what happened earlier in the day can emerge. Or you start to worry about something. This can hinder your meditation practice.
Restlessness of the Body
For restlessness of the body, you can do physical activities that will burn out the excess physical energies of the body. You can do exercises. Or you can practice hatha yoga.
For me, what I do is practice yoga one day, and do workout with weights another day. Besides being good for health, these activities create a balance of energies. As such, when it is time to meditate, I am ready with just the right amount of energies.
Restlessness of the Mind
The best way to eradicate the restlessness of the mind is to meditate more. Practice focusing on the one object of meditation that is your breath.
As you get deeper into meditation, you start to go through the different stages. From applied thought all the way to one-pointedness concentration. Along this journey, you will attain bliss.
Bliss can eliminate restlessness and worry. It is the state when you no longer have bodily feelings. You no longer have any thoughts other than your focus on your breath.
#2 Sloth and Torpor
This is something you may encounter during meditation. Let me share the experiences of some of my meditation students to illustrate this.
Many of my new students have found that when they meditate, they start to feel drowsy. Some even fall asleep in class! And this is not just new students. I have some students who have followed me for years, and sometimes they would fall asleep too.
One of the reasons for this behavior is the hectic lives and stress my students have. I understand in this modern world how stressful work can be. And it can be exhausting. As such, when they come to the class, the tiredness overwhelms them, and they doze off.
Another reason is that when we meditate, we go into theta and delta waves. At these wavelengths, our minds feel very relaxed. And start to feel drowsy.
One solutions to this obstacle is to wash your face with cold water before you meditate. This may keep you awake for the meditation.
The better solution is to reach the stage of applied thought. That is to apply our consciousness to the object of meditation. Like mindfulness. With mindfulness, you become more aware.
With the awareness, even when you go into theta and delta waves, you will find that you will not get drowsy. Of course, it takes practice to reach this awareness.
#3 Sensual Desire
This obstacle is about your senses. The senses from your eyes, ears, nose, mouth, skin and mind. From these senses there are desires and cravings that can occur during meditation.
A simple example would be the holistic center where I teach meditation. There is a road with heavy traffic outside the meditation room.
At times, there would be loud noises from the vehicles driving along that road. And the sound can be distracting. This is a desire and craving of you ears to listen to that sound instead of focusing on your meditation.
The solution is using one-pointedness concentration. And to use it with equanimity.
Focus on one object of meditation. I usually teach to focus on your breath. Be totally absorbed with your breathing. Aspire to be one with your breathing.
As you focus on your breath, with practice, you can find yourself like as if you are not breathing. This is when your breathing becomes very slow and shallow.
As you progress further, your breathing becomes shallower and slower. It can even be to the point of looking and feeling as if you are not breathing at all.
I have experienced this often. And I can tell you that this is a wonderful state of being. At this point, I found myself not thinking at all. In fact, I did not realize I was breathing so shallow and slow.
Until at some point, I became aware. And it is true. I felt as if I was not breathing at all. But of course, I was. I was just doing it at such a slow and shallow rate that it felt as if I was not breathing.
And the best part is there were no other thoughts. I was simply being. And it felt wonderful.
#4 Ill Will
The feelings of ill will, such as anger, hatred, envy, jealousy or depression can hinder your meditation. With such negative thoughts, you will find it difficult to have peace of mind.
Whether we are conscious of it or not, there are times when a negative thought can appear in our minds. The way to eradicate this is to keep meditating.
Keep emptying your thoughts. Nature abhors a vacuum. And as you empty your mind, bliss comes to replace the emptied space.
With bliss, you will have no negative thoughts or feelings. And you will also be more relaxed.
Oh, this is one very common obstacle with some of my students. I have had new students who were coaxed to attend my meditation classes by friends or spouses. And as they introduced themselves before the meditation started, they would say things like – I cannot meditate or I have tried before but I do not seem to be able to meditate.
Would you like to know a secret? It is the fact that everyone can meditate.
Everyone who attended my meditation classes have discovered that they could meditate. Even the ones who claimed they could not. And it was always fun to see their surprised faces.
If you are unable to attend my meditation classes or any meditation class, and you practice meditation on your own, my advice is be patient. Try a few types of meditation. And choose the one that suits you.
Here is a breathing meditation I recommend you try. It is the same basic meditation that I teach in my classes. And my students have found it good and effective. The article includes a video that you can listen to, and guide you in this meditation.
Then keep practicing. Persistence is the key. Just like an Olympic athlete does not start as one. The athlete needs to practice every day to achieve that status. So it is the same with meditation. You need to practice.
As you practice, you will attain peace and calm. You may even reach bliss, rapture, and the other stages of meditation. As you do, you will find that all doubts will be erased.
We have come to the end of this article about the 5 Obstacles of Meditation, If you have any questions regarding anything mentioned here in this article, ANY at all, please feel free to ask by adding a comment in the comment box below. I will be more than happy to help.
Wishing you an awesome life filled with abundance, love and light.