I talked about the hindrances at last night’s Wednesday sitting group with Mary Ellen, and I’ll talk about similar issues at this Sunday’s sitting group, so I’ve put together some material for both groups. I’ll be going on a retreat from Monday, January 14-January 30, and so will meet with the Sunday group this Sunday (Jan. 13) and the next time will be February 3.
Mary Ellen thought it would be good to talk about the basics, and it doesn’t get more basic than the Hindrances. We notice them as soon as we sit down to meditate. This article in “Tricycle” magazine shows the classical view of treating the hindrances as something bad to be overcome. Basically, it’s setting us up for a violent struggle before it’s even begun!
However, I believe that the Hindrances are perfectly normal. It’s just being human, as Mary Ellen said last night. We don’t want to set ourselves up for failure, because the Hindrances will always come up. We can try watching them with more compassion, and ease up on struggling to accomplish what really isn’t possible: controlling our thoughts! We also want to make thoughtful decisions on what is right for ourselves, and not just blindly follow meditation instructions. The Buddha did advise us to evaluate and think about his teachings based on their effect on our lives.