This week we continue with 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.”
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.
Aversion is anything that you don’t like or don’t want. As yogis we have plenty of opportunity to experience aversion as we confront experiences that we don’t want or that we push away on our yoga mats whether they be physical, emotional, mental, energetic or spiritual. You may not like a yoga posture, you might feel resistance to a certain emotional tone such as anger or frustration, you may push away the very common experience of a mind that chooses to go over and over something that is bothering you, you might fight fatigue, or you may even experience some resistance to the concepts that are being offered through the teachings.
Aversion is most commonly described as anger, hatred, rage, jealousy, and fear. I find when they are described this way it is easy to not identify with them. In truth, we all experience more subtle forms of aversion on our yoga mats and throughout our day. Check in with irritation, impatience, boredom, annoyance, frustration, resentment and sorrow. These are normal parts of our yoga practice and our lived experience.
I think in the context of our yoga practice, it is important to note the distinction between aversion and a safe yoga practice. There may be certain yoga poses that you avoid or modify to keep your body safe because of illness or injury or to avoid injury or illness, but it may not necessarily indicate an aversion to the yoga pose or practice. On the other hand, you may actually experience aversion on a mental level should you experience irritation, impatience, boredom, annoyance, frustration, or upset mentally when you take a modification to keep yourself safe.
We can bring our moment to moment awareness to check in during our yoga practice. When we observe and are open to the unpleasant emotions, we can notice the feeling and embrace irritation, impatience, boredom, annoyance, frustration, resentment and sorrow with compassion and loving attention. Attention to aversion asks us to be present rather than run away and hide.
When aversion arises, we can remember it is not personal, it is a visiting force of our mind. It has simply clouded our mind and distorted our vision of our present moment experience. It is a gift to remind us of how we are not accepting things as they are and trying to make things better for us. We can notice how we are trying to change reality and exert control. When aversion arises, we bring loving kindness, compassion and forgiveness to this temporary state of mind.
Metta Hour Podcast with Sharon Salzberg The Five Hindrances
Jack Kornfield: Bringing Home the Dharma: Awakening Right Where You Are
Five Minute Dharma Talk with Jay Forest on the Aversion
Props Needed: Blocks, Folded Blanket, Yoga Strap, Wall, Chair
Yoga Postures/Asanas: Half Bow Pose or Ardha Dhanurasana, Lunge Pose or Anjaneyasana, Reclined Hero Pose or Supta Virasana, Mudra for Preventing Stress, Dancer or Natarajasana, Camel or Ustrasana, Bow Pose or Dhanurasana, Savasana or Corpse Pose
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Today’s question to answer in the comments is: What yoga pose do you avoid the most and why? I asked this earlier this week on Facebook and it was a fascinating discussion. 🙂
If you would like a list of the antidotes to the five hindrances enter your email address below and I will give you a list of the 5 hindrances and their antidotes.
If you would like more support in how to do one of the yoga poses I heard you avoided the most safely, crow pose, then I would recommend our crow pose class in our membership community.
It is a 30 minute class that explores fear on the yogic and spiritual path with bakasana, crow pose.
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Namaste Yoga 320 Photos of Yoga Pose