Meditation is a tremendous challenge for most people.
So if you’re having trouble reaching 7 minutes in your practice before your brain almost literally EXPLODES, you’re not alone.
While each person is at a unique stage in their meditation practice and each person is undergoing a different set of challenges, we can pinpoint at least a few common obstacles that most people experience at one point or another.
I want to outline nine obstacles in particular that can interrupt our practice of meditation and inhibit our progress.
They start as mere distractions and eventually become obstacles, unless you remedy them.
Here they are…
Illness is a condition that affects the physical stability of a person. If you are trying to meditate because you want to experience something or know something, you’re not going to get there with an ill body, no matter the quality of your mind. I don’t want to suggest, however, that you shouldn’t meditate if you lack good physical health, when indeed, meditation will help improve your physical health. All that I am saying is that meditation is more difficult to practice with an ill body.
The main remedy for physical illness, however, is a proper balance of diet, exercise, and sleep.
Dullness is mental incapacity. Dullness is a lack of mental energy, a weakness of the mind. To meditate, you needs mental energy. Dullness results in inefficiency and incomprehension. Under the condition of dullness, its very difficult to succeed in meditation.
The main remedy for dullness is also a proper balance of diet, exercise, and sleep.
Doubt affects the meditator when he or she is skeptical over the results and benefits of meditation. Yet doubt is also a lack of confidence in the process. We live in a society in which we are conditioned to focus so much on rewards, often causing us to lose interest and enjoyment in the activities themselves.
But the main remedy for doubt is faith. I’m not talking about blind faith, faith that involves great expectation and without effort. I’m talking about a faith that involves great effort without expectation of reward.
Negligence is the failure to take proper care in doing something, the failure to give sufficient attention to avoiding harm and errors. If we want to succeed in meditation, we have to be careful. We have to notice the various object — thoughts, images, emotions, and sensations — arising within our field of consciousness.
The main remedy for negligence is diligence.
Laziness is a lack of enthusiasm. Laziness is a lack of discipline, and meditation requires great discipline. Meditation is like any other activity, just like studying in school or playing sports, in which you must possess the proper enthusiasm and commitment in order to succeed.
The main remedy for laziness is determination.
Craving is the state of wanting of things — either material or experiential, and often sensual. Just think of the number of times during your meditation that you’ve been tangled in lustful thoughts and images.
The main remedy for craving is contentment. Contentment is that state of satisfaction with what you already possess.
Misperception is susceptibility to false knowledge. Misperception manifests during meditation through the many stories and lies you tell yourself.
The main remedy for misperception is accuracy. Accuracy is the state or being correct or precise.
Inattention is the failure to maintain the attention necessary in order to achieve more and more subtle and refined states of meditation.
The main remedy for inattention is concentration.
Instability is the inability to maintain those more subtle and refined states of meditation once you have reached them. It’s like when suddenly comes into sharp focus, but then it shifts and everything is blurry again.
The main remedy for instability is one-pointedness.