What to do when they are approaching
While practicing, there are a few obstacles that you might encounter. Traditionally there are five main obstacles - Pali: pañca nīvaraṇāni - that most people who begin to learn how to “stop their mind still” come across at some point along the way. They include:
1. Wanting, Desire - kāmacchanda
2. Irritation, Frustration - byāpāda
3. Laziness, Sluggishness - thīna-middha
4. Distraction, Worry, Restlessness - uddhacca-kukkucca
5. Skepticism, Doubt - vicikicchā
So how to fix these? Simple, just don't take heed of them and continuing allowing the mind to stop still. Don’t engage in letting them bother you.
Yeah. Right. So, for those who need a bit more explanation check this out:
1. Perhaps you might desire to think about this or that. You might feel a pull that you have to do something or think that something needs to be done, especially before you think you will forget it. Practice letting go and knowing that meditating “right now” is the current priority. There is a time and a place for everything. Stick it out for now. Let it go! Things will come up on their own, by themselves.
In meditation, we are finding things that already exist within us, we just need to create the right atmosphere and condition so that they will be revealed and arise by themselves. The more we still the mind in a well-rounded way with relaxation, delicateness, softness, and calmness, the faster we get results. Desire, pushing, trying to create, searching for, and grasping after - etc. - are the opposite of stillness. They counteract stillness. People who have already had some inner experience should bear this in mind. Make sure that you do not desire any experience, at all whatsoever. If you have had an experience and want to create it again, or go about your session searching for it, chances are you'll end up disappointed. Cut that habit at the root. "Zen mind. Beginner's mind." Every session is a new session. Simply be content and satisfied with where you are at right now, and what you have right now. Concerning inner experience, wanting to experience something will only take us farther away from what it is that we want. Remember the technique, not the result. Like many other things, they come when we least expect them.
2. At times you might find yourself frustrated or irritated in meditation. “Had a bad day, things just aren’t going right, and meditation is not helping!” Sometimes all that something needs is just a little time to process. Be compassionate and content with yourself and your current state. Go in deeper inside that contentment and satisfaction along with the current effort that you are displaying. Enjoy the meditation; use it as an escape from the outer world as well as for embarking on a progressive development of the inner environment. Also, don’t try to force yourself through the meditation. If you are really heating up, go take a little break, stretch it out, get a cup of water, or whatever else suits you. Then what? Try again. Remember to not push too hard, you don’t want to pop. To be natural, you don't need to try to be natural. Just let 'natural' do its thing. "Let it be." Meditate naturally. Know that no matter what is happening outside or inside, no matter how many disturbances you may have, the real peace and stillness lies beyond that - and beyond the corporeal senses - deeper down in the silence within.
3. Sometimes you just may feel too lazy and without energy to meditate. Try to make meditation the easiest part of your day. When you sit down to close your eyes, make it easy and simple. Refrain from rushing anything with meditation; take it step by step, and enjoy it. Satisfaction is a key to persistence, and persistence is the key to continuity. Simply make it easy, and smile while you are meditating. There's nothing to lose by trying; there is everything to gain. Not only that, if you really make it easy and learn to let go while following the steps, you will notice just how much more energy you have, and that will give you a lot of encouragement.
4. You may find yourself - more often than you'd like - completely distracted and seemingly immersed within a stream of continuous thought. Just let the river flow, see that you are getting caught up in it, and gently remove yourself from it. Suppress any urge to yank yourself out. There's no need to force anything. In fact, that would be counter-productive. Know that your purpose is to still the mind with softness and gentleness. That is the opposite of pushing, pulling, pressing, controlling, driving, and forcing anything to happen. And at the same time avoid pushing them away. Aversion and grasping are opposite sides of the same coin. Utilize ubbekha, meaning equanimity, with practical application as 'non-reactiveness', 'non-responsiveness', or 'disinterest' in the thought clouds and moods that temporarily pass through your awareness. We can choose what we give attention to.
5. It is possible that you might also find yourself worrying about your development. “Why haven’t I improved…This isn’t working…Where is it? Where is my mind?...Am I doing this right?.....etc.” Let it go. Just by putting the effort into the practice, you are guaranteeing yourself success. You might as well “put it in writing”. It is accumulative A teacher of mine says that meditation is like watering a tree. The more you water the tree the more you contribute to the tree's growth. So every bit counts, even if you may not immediately notice it. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Find your pace, and go with the flow.
The main point is to be content, satisfied with the moment, still, soft, caressing, delicate, and stable within. Also, a good tip for those of us whom tend to press and try to control is to let go of using the eyes to see within and refrain from trying to think it out with the brain or thought-processing skills. Feel from the inside-out. Open yourself up and let go of any issues arising from within, surrender to yourself. Forgo being attached to them, as well as attempting to avert them. Know that your point in sitting down is to find some inner peace and relaxation, keep it that simple. Rest the mind within the body just as you would place a leaf on a table and leave it be. It will stay still by itself if you leave it alone. Yet, if you were to turn on a fan, or open the window, the leaf will fly all over the place. Keep it simple. Learn how to build the mood and atmosphere conducive to your own mind nestling into stillness within. Everyone is different, so find your own way. Be the scientist and experiment with your mind. If you find yourself slipping or getting too distracted then slightly open the eyes, and go back to the beginning. It's never too late or early to start over. Socrates is quoted for saying, "Perfect practice makes perfect." Build good meditation habits. Do the right method, even if it feels unnatural or unusual at first. Building a firm foundation is essential. Please do not overlook it. Keep up the motivation and consistency.
As was said before, just by putting the effort into practice you are guaranteeing yourself success; you might as well “put it in writing". Stick with your routine, and don’t make it difficult. Make it simple, easy, and enjoyable. You will know you are on the right path when you have a combination of the follow indicators:
3. Refreshed-ness and inner cleanliness
4. "This is getting easier!"
5. Increasing stillness and concentration
You may also have feelings of emptiness or hollowness with transparency, softness, gentleness, looseness, delicateness, stability, contentment, translucency, equanimity, a sense of release, and an open and free feeling around you. There are a lot of side-effects, too many to briefly mention here. Also, cease and desist from being too critical and analytical. Feeding a cynic feeds negativity. “Just stay still!” said Mom. It took Thomas Edison over 1,000 times to make the light bulb. He eventually found the way because he never ever gave up. And we can be sure that he had a few doubts along the way.
Mr. Edison started from scratch. We already have the methodology. All you need to do is to just stick to it, and you will get the results. You have the match box and the sticks. It is up to you to ignite the fire within yourself for yourself, and only you can do that. Over time and practice, you will learn how to put the pieces together in the way that suits you best, and so that it always bears fruit. Remember not to rush anything, and enjoy the process. Stay cool. Keep it simple. Keep it real.
In service, Joshua Jayintoh