We continue our Awakening Your True Self Series this week with another mini series within our larger series. This mini series is on the five hindrances. The five hindrances are common mental states that arise in our practice and lives that can impede our practice. They have been observed and taught as part of Buddhist studies.
In teaching about the five hindrances, Sharon Salzberg quotes the Buddha, he says, “Our minds are naturally radiant and pure, our minds are shining. It is because of visiting forces that we suffer.”
This quote, of course, brings to mind the Rumi poem, the Guest House.
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
The five hindrances (grasping, aversion, sleepiness, restlessness and doubt), are guests in our home. They are just visitors. Sharon Salzberg says that they may visit a lot or even continuously, but they are still visitors.
Naturally, as human beings, we become identified with these visitors and we take them personally. We think we are right or wrong, good or bad depending on who is showing up at our house on any given day. When we see ourselves as bad and horrible, these states pull us in and distort our perception and make us stuck.
Sharon Salzberg says, knowing what to do when grasping, or greed, or desire knocks on the door can change our relationship to our experience of suffering. When we hear the knock on the door, we can know that we are not wrong, that it is not a sign of personal failure, but that to feel desire is a natural part of the process.
Desire can take many forms. We live in a consumer culture. We are being trained to have desire for many things from products to make us look younger, vacations, bigger homes, retreats, more money. We are taught that we don’t have enough and we are trying to control what we do have. In the world of yoga, desire is rampant these days with the visual images of contortionist yoga poses, not safe or accessible for most of the yoga population all over the covers of magazines and internet.
Desire is the part of our mind that is never content. Jack Kornfield says it is the part of our mind that says, “if only I had something different than this, I would be happy.” Sharon Salzberg says, when we notice desire at our door, we don’t have to get so frightened and ashamed that we slam the door shut. When we do that, we will find that desire will find a way in through the chimney or window. Instead she suggests that we open the door and greet the visitor with awareness, clarity and compassion at the moment of hearing the knock.
When you hear the knock, you can invite desire in for tea, keep an eye on them, don’t give them free reign of your house. Remember they are visiting forces, your mind is naturally radiant, pure and shining. Jack Kornfield reminds us of the impermanence of desire. I’m sure we can all relate to this. Wanting something so badly, getting it, and then wondering what its hold was on us? It is said that the antidote to desire can be to focus on impermanence. When you notice greed arising, you can also shift your attention to gratitude and appreciation for what you have. This can be as simple as practicing gratitude for this breath.
Metta Hour Podcast with Sharon Salzberg: The Five Hindrances
Jack Kornfield: Bringing Home the Dharma: Awakening Right Where You Are
Props Needed: 2 blocks, bolster, folded blanket, meditation cushion or chair
Yoga Postures/Asanas: Sunshine Arms, Knee to Chest Pose or Apanasana, Lunge Pose or Anjaneyasana. Cat Pose or Marjaryasana, Downward Facing Dog or Adho Mukha Svanasana, Cloud Salutation or Megha Namaskar, Sun Salutation or Surya Namaskar, Sphinx Pose or Salamba Bhujangasana, Marichyasana or Marichi’s Twist, Paschimottanasana or Seated Forward Fold, Savasana or Corpse Pose
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Thank you for your donations Viola, Rickianne, Ivy, Peggy, Peige. We appreciate your support immensely.
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You can also contribute through your time by commenting in the comments section.
Today’s question to answer in the comments is: I want you to know that we all experience the 5 hindrances. I want you to bring awareness to the impermanence of desire. Notice a time when your visitor desire left your house this past week and let us know about it.
If you would like a list of the antidotes to the five hindrances enter your name and email address below and I will send you a list of the 5 hindrances and their antidotes.
If you would like more support in bringing gratitude (the antidote to desire), then I would recommend a recording of a meetup we had exclusively for our members back this summer to go deeper with the Namaste Yoga Gratitude Series. In the recording of that meetup you will receive:
#1 Bountiful Beautiful Blissful Meditation
#2 Gratitude Reflection
#3 New gratitude technique: How much gratitude am I bringing in this moment?