How do I work with negative states of mind? In Theravadin Buddhism we talk about the five hindrances of mind. These include sensual desire, ill-will, restlessness, sloth and torpor, and skeptical doubt. Check this blog each week over the next six weeks to find out more about these negative states. Learn some classical and contemporary antidotes to these troubling states of mind.
Other names for some of these hindrances: Sensual desire is also referred to as the wanting mind. Included in ill-will is anger, hatred, aversion and resentment. Restlessness includes anxiety, worry and remorse. Sloth and torpor refers to sleepiness, sluggishness of the mind and the body. Skeptical doubt includes questioning your abilities to meditate and be successful, to have insights, to realize the truth. It can also include questioning the accuracy, truth of Universal Truths. One example would be doubting that cause and effect exists. Doubting that the actions of our body, speech and mind have no effects and no consequences. There is a critical difference between doubt and investigation. One can look into the nature of cause and effect, ask questions, explore the topic without doubting it.
The first practice in working with the hindrances is recognition. Both during the day, on and off the meditation cushion, recognize and name any of these states, as they are present. Pay attention to your mind. Observe it and give a weather report. Is your mind cloudy, clear, overcast and clearing? Is it stirred up or bogged down with any one of the five hindrances? Find out for yourself, on a moment to moment basis. Check in with yourself on the hour, during the day and discover.