How to Overcome Hindrances in Vipassana

How to overcome hindrances in VipassanaVipassana is a simple yet effective mindfulness meditation technique that can help you radiate inner peace and joy like a venerable Buddhist monk. It is said that the Buddha used this method to attain enlightenment. There are many types of Buddhist meditations including Zen, but Vipassana is popular because it improves both concentration and awareness.

While practicing Vipassana you may face many distractions. In this article, we highlight a few of the main hindrances in Vipassana and reveal how you can tackle and overcome them to be able to meditate more deeply.

Hindrance #1: Your Expectations

It is natural to feel boredom or discomfort while meditating. You may keep sneaking peeks at your watch to find out how much time is left for the session to end. If this happens, limit your aim and take it one breath and abdominal movement at a time.

Do not think about the future but stick to the present moment. Do not get distracted by thoughts about boredom or difficulty. If you continue to entertain such thinking, you may simply get up and walk out. Be aware of the shenanigans of your mind and do not let them control you. Try to meditate from moment to moment.

Hindrance #2: Wandering Mind

A novice meditator will find his mind wandering and thinking about the future or past. To overcome lapses in concentration, gently tell yourself you are “thinking” when you catch up with your train of thoughts.

Then return to the meditating process. Slowly your thoughts will become subtle and may disappear before you can label them. You will then be able to ignore stray thoughts as they will pass by without causing much mental disturbance.

The trick is not to get caught up in the train of thoughts. Simply label the thinking process and focus your attention back on the meditation object. Do not become upset with your wandering mind because thinking is natural to the mind.

Be patient and persevere with the task of improving your concentration and awareness.  Becoming aware when your mind wanders indicates your mindfulness. It is when we start to meditate that we see how restless our mind really is.


Hindrance #3: Itching During Meditation

Itching is a normal sensation to which we respond unconsciously by scratching the itching body part. While doing Vipassana we are bound to notice uncomfortable sensations frequently. If the itching is severe, focus your mind on it and label it “itching” or “feeling”.

If the urge to scratch the itch arises, label this feeling “desire” or “wanting”. To get rid of a persistent itch move your hand slowly labelling each movement as “moving,” “scratching,” “stopping,” and “placing” (your hand back on the lap). Then resume being mindful of the main meditation object.

Hindrance #4: Pain During Meditation

Since we remain motionless during meditation, pain is bound to occur sooner or later. When you feel discomfort or pain, observe the sensation and label it “feeling” or “pain”. If the pain is severe, remind yourself that like all things, the painful feeling is also impermanent.

In case of severe pain, novice meditators can shift their position to lessen it. But do not give into the urge to change your posture at every small tingle or twitch. To make progress, you need to be patient with unpleasant feelings and sensations.

Change your position only if the discomfort interferes with your meditative mindfulness. While changing position, label each movement carefully. Then go back to focusing on the primary object of meditation.

Overcoming Hindrances in Vipassana

You don’t have to become a Buddhist monk to practice Vipassana mindfulness and get inner peace. Enroll in a nearby class or go online to learn how to meditate, and persevere with your efforts to overcome your inner demons and win lasting happiness and joy.

Images by Moyan_Brenn and Wiertz Sébastien.
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