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Five hindrances to clarity

Wisdom from lock-down

“A calm mind comes without strains” Alan Watts. These days more than ever, I am reminded to the importance of the calm mind. As I had a first experience of the disastrous effect of mind as enemy.

Fourteen years ago, I thought my world has ended. I moved from travelling on private jet, meeting up with dignitaries and negotiating multi-billion dollars project. Creating opportunities and wealth around the world, to an anonymous, nobody, who can’t even dare to leave her house, afraid of the world that she so much loved.

Twelve years ago, I felt my freedom and joy of living for the first time after such a long time. They say; “For the one who has conquerer the mind, the mind is the best of friends; but fr the one who has failed to do so, his very mind will be his greatest enemy”

See, as a young girl, I had big dreams of changing the world we live in. I was very clear about what I was to become since the age of five. I use to say, I am gonna be a doctor, I want to heal people. As where I lived as a child, if you didn’t have the means you just died and as I child, I could’t comprehend it and still till today, I can’t comprehend it.

I never became a medical doctor, but I definitely became a healer. Not in a sense of having a shamic gifts, however my gift is my big & full-heart. which allowed me to ground from young age, and when I disconnected from it. I lost myself, my joy of life.

Forteen years ago, I knew the meaning of living dead. I was diagnosed with depression, caused by an extensive and consistent level of stressed that swipped me off my feet and turned my world upside down.

See while working, I enjoyed what I was doing, I really loved every challenge I took or embarked on, however, my thirst for more, tipped me over and I was oblivious to it. To say, I didn’t know something was coming my way, I will be a liar. As I had so many signs, starting from chronic fatigues, to cancer, to sleepless nights, to snapping at my love once, short temperateness, anger…… you get the picture.

However, I believed on my invincibility and my needing to prove to the world, blinded me to what was really important and was happening.

I was becoming the Tiger that was raised by goats and believing he was a goat, kept eating the upsetting grass.

Why I am sharing this with you now, as the current times are no different from my experience of 14 years ago. There is a certain level of fear, threat for people that is difficult to navigate and yet its possible to see the light at the end of the tunnel, if we pay attention, recognize and take small actions to help us calm our minds in order to still feel into life.

Also when I reflect on one of the things that helped me navigate that junction of my life is understanding more about the hindrance of the mind.

Having the clarity of mind is really important to navigate the current times. And what I mean by clarity is, Seeing Clear, not the clarity of the goal.

Find a practice that help you clear your mind and attend to it. For me, what helped me is movement, dance, hiking, walking, sports in general and music

In the Showlin tradition, they speak of the five hindrances of the mind, when you identify which one you are blinded by, you may start creating new ways to See Clear.

1. Sensual desire:

We always desire what we don’t have: friends, foods, partners, material possessions. it seems like we never have what we want at any moment, that we are always thinking, “What if…”? how can I learn to satisfy this desire with what I do have?

My experience has always been that it’s an enormous relief just to admit to myself that I’m obsessed by a desire for something. First, I can stop trying so hard to pretend that I don’t want something that, in fact, I do want. Second, most of the time something I think of as an overriding desire is often more a moment of “wishful thinking.” Often seeing our desire simply as what it is – a desire – allows it to drop away, or at least loosens our hold on it.

The few times when that hasn’t worked, though, gratitude or metta practice has made me sane again. Instead of getting caught up in the desire, I literally start to list all of the things I’m grateful for, starting with the fact that every time I breathe out, my body breathes back in. I suddenly notice all the different colors in my teacup, the sound of the birds outside. I call a friend, pull out a journal. Then I sometimes try dancing, for everyone else is caught in the bittersweet cycles of desire.

2.Anger

We often find ourselves torn between lashing out at someone and trying to remain equanimous. We know it’s ideal not to explode in anger, but sometimes it still seems like the right thing to do—or like it would be “good” for me to express how I feel, directly. Is it ever right to let anger show?

When we are angry it may be important for us to communicate what we feel. But how we do this is critical. Simply blasting other people with our anger is not skillful or kind. We may think, “Well, they’re so thick-headed, I need to yell in order to get through to them.” But it’s difficult for people to take in what another is saying if they are being yelled at, because their defenses are instantly mobilized. They’re just as distracted by the reactionary thoughts going through their heads as we are by the force of our anger

If we allow ourselves to calm down before addressing the situation, we can let go of our own defensiveness and anger.

It’s understandable to feel better immediately after an initial catharsis: we’ve dumped our painful feelings onto another. But it’s not long before we feel worse, as our minds and bodies fill with the poison of anger, resentment, and, possibly, guilt or regret. We may try to cope with this miasma of feelings by going over the whole story in our minds again and again, talking about it with our friends, justifying our position and securing their support, planning our next attack, but these defensive strategies ultimately bind us further to suffering. 

We suffer because we do not understand the openness of our true nature.

3. Sloth, Torpor, and Boredom:

When we find ourselves with a free evening before us, We frantically try to fill it with activity rather than spending it alone. How can we learn to face an evening with nothing to “do”—and enjoy it?

Our sense of self is continually formulated by the things that we do and our interactions with others. When we find ourselves with nothing to do or no one to be with, our ego has nothing familiar by which to define itself.

However, we can transform our fear of this emptiness. Boredom and loneliness depend on investing in the sense of self. And, ironically, the harder we try to solidify our image of me through activity, the more we create the conditions for boredom to arise. If the sense of self is clearly understood as empty, solitude becomes a cherished companion. Try quieting the mind and then dropping the question “Who am I?” into it. A gap opens up after the question and before the thinking/self-creating habit can produce a verbal answer. Explore that gap and how it changes your experience of selfhood.

4. Restlessness and Worry:

We are conditioned to seek happiness outside of ourselves. If only we could be in a different place, or with a different person, then we would be happy—or so we think. This conditioning generates a lot of restless minds interacting with one another, which in turn creates enormous disconnection. We need to be mindful of the state of mind that is driving our restlessness.

As soon we begin to feel even a little bit bored, many of us react by distracting ourselves with activity—any activity, however mindless: we turn on the television, call a friend, do the dishes. We may also feel we’re missing out on something better than whatever it is we’re doing. Both of these reactions ultimately stem from either aversion or greed. We need to learn to recognize our insatiable craving for new experiences. Being ashamed of our cravings doesn’t help, but justifying or denying them doesn’t help, either. Instead, we should learn to be with our situation as it is rather than moving away from it.

Acknowledging the feeling of boredom and then paying attention to our discomfort help bring the mind back to what is happening now. No doubt it can be difficult to be content with the present moment. But when we learn to open to the feelings that underlie restlessness, then meaningful connection with ourselves and others becomes possible.

5. Doubt:

It’s important to note a feeling of doubt that arises in a relationship. If we immediately attempt to let it go, we are automatically discounting our intuition. If you allow yourself to acknowledge the doubt and investigate its constituent feelings without judgment, a lot will be revealed.

You may notice that at its root are sadness, envy, competitiveness, or perhaps even echoes of a time in the past when you didn’t trust your intuition—with unfortunate consequences. In looking quietly at the doubt, you may decide it is largely a result of your projections onto the other person, or feelings of your own inadequacy, or jealousy.

We find ourselves asking for others opinions and views on how and we should do. We are always second guessing ourselves and allowing others to dictate how we live our lives. If you find yourself, doubting your ability, capacity to act, stop and ask yourself; Where this voice of doubt is coming from? who is currently speaking to me? what am I doubting?

The descriptions and the expressions of the five hindrances were sources from tricycle magazin.

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