Timotheus’ Note: This post was originally published on 3 June, 2020. It has been updated, and republished on 7 November 2021. Parts of the blog post has been edited to include updated information, and for accuracy. Also, the update has been edited to follow the new format. Plus, a video has been added.
Hi Everyone! You have started meditating. And that is great! As you practice, you may find yourself facing some problems when you meditate.
Today, we will discuss these potential issues. We will discuss What are the 5 Obstacles of Meditation, and How To Overcome Them?
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1. Restlessness and Worrying
Here is an obstacle to meditation that many of you may face. As you meditate, some of you may find yourself feeling restless. It can be a restlessness of the body or the mind.
With this obstacle, you may find it hard to focus on one thought, or even achieve calmness of your mind. Even I, a person who has meditated for a long time, can sometimes have such restlessness of the body or the mind.
To know how to manage this obstacle, you must understand why you have such restlessness.
Restlessness of the Body
Even till today, at times, as I sit and meditate, I would sometimes find my body feeling restless. This happens when our bodies are feeling too energized.
It can be due to too much stimulants such as coffee. Or just simply feeling hyped.
Sometimes, the feeling can be really uncomfortable. For example, you would be sitting and getting into the meditation. Then suddenly, you feel discomfort in your legs. And you feel a need to stretch your legs.
Sometimes, it can be your body not easily going into a relaxed state. You would take deep breaths but you just cannot sink into a relaxed mode.
Restlessness of the Mind
Then there is the restlessness of the mind. As you begin to meditate, thoughts of what happened earlier in the day can emerge.
Or you start to worry about something. This can hinder your meditation practice.
Solution to Overcome Restlessness and Worrying
Restlessness of the Body
For restlessness of the body, you can do exercises. This will burn out the excess physical energies of the body. For example, you can do exercises. Or you can practice hatha yoga.
For me, what I do is practice yoga one day, and do workout with weights another day. Besides being good for health, these activities create a balance of energies. As such, when it is time to meditate, I am ready with just the right amount of energies.
Restlessness of the Mind
The best way to eradicate the restlessness of the mind is to meditate more. Practice focusing on the one object of meditation that is your breath.
As you get deeper into meditation, you start to go through the different stages. From applied thought all the way to one-pointedness concentration. Along this journey, you will attain bliss.
Bliss can eliminate restlessness and worry. It is the state when you no longer have bodily feelings. You no longer have any thoughts other than your focus on your breath.
2. Sloth and Torpor
This is something you may encounter during meditation. Let me share the experiences of some of my meditation students to illustrate this.
Many of my new students have found that when they meditate, they start to feel drowsy. Some even fall asleep in class! And this is not just new students. I have some students who have followed me for years, and sometimes they would fall asleep too.
One of the reasons for this behavior is the hectic lives and stress my students have. I understand in this modern world how stressful work can be. And it can be exhausting. As such, when they come to the class, the tiredness overwhelms them, and they doze off.
Another reason is that when we meditate, we go into theta and delta waves. At these wavelengths, our minds feel very relaxed. And start to feel drowsy.
Solution to Overcome Sloth and Torpor
One solution to this obstacle is to wash your face with cold water before you meditate. This may keep you awake for the meditation.
The better solution is to reach the stage of applied thought. That is to apply our consciousness to the object of meditation. Like mindfulness. With mindfulness, you become more aware.
With the awareness, even when you go into theta and delta waves, you will find that you will not get drowsy. Of course, it takes practice to reach this awareness.
So, do more meditation practice.
3. Desires of the Senses
This obstacle is about your senses. The senses from your eyes, ears, nose, mouth, skin and mind. From these senses there are desires and cravings that can occur during meditation.
A simple example would be at the holistic center where I teach meditation. There is a road with heavy traffic outside the meditation room.
At times, there would be loud noises from the vehicles driving along that road. And the sound can be distracting. This is a desire and craving of you ears to listen to that sound instead of focusing on your meditation.
Solution to Overcome Desires of the Senses
The solution is using one-pointedness concentration. And to use it with equanimity.
Focus on one object of meditation. I usually teach to focus on your breath. Be totally absorbed with your breathing. Aspire to be one with your breathing.
As you focus on your breath, with practice, you can find yourself like as if you are not breathing. This is when your breathing becomes very slow and shallow.
As you progress further, your breathing becomes shallower and slower. It can even be to the point of looking and feeling as if you are not breathing at all.
I have experienced this often. And I can tell you that this is a wonderful state of being. At this point, I found myself not thinking at all. In fact, I did not realize I was breathing so shallow and slow.
Until at some point, I became aware. And it is true. I felt as if I was not breathing at all. But of course, I was. I was just doing it at such a slow and shallow rate that it felt as if I was not breathing.
And the best part is there were no other thoughts. I was simply being. And it felt wonderful.
4. Ill Will
The feelings of ill will, such as anger, hatred, envy, jealousy or depression can hinder your meditation. With such negative thoughts, you will find it difficult to have peace of mind.
Solution to Overcome Ill Will
Whether we are conscious of it or not, there are times when a negative thought can appear in our minds. The way to eradicate this is to keep meditating.
Keep emptying your thoughts. You do this by ignoring or putting aside any thought that appears in your mind. You keep doing it, and eventually you empty your thoughts.
Nature abhors a vacuum. And as you empty your mind, bliss comes to replace the emptied space.
With bliss, you will have no negative thoughts or feelings. And you will also be more relaxed.
Oh, this is one very common obstacle with some of my students. I have had new students who were coaxed to attend my meditation classes by friends or spouses.
And as they introduced themselves before the meditation started, they would say things like – I cannot meditate or I have tried before but I do not seem to be able to meditate.
Would you like to know a secret? It is the fact that everyone can meditate.
Solution to Overcome Doubts
Everyone who attended my meditation classes have discovered that they could meditate. Even the ones who claimed they could not. And it was always fun to see their surprised faces to find out that they could.
If you are unable to attend my meditation classes or any meditation class, you can try the Flowing Love Meditation on this channel
Here’s one that you can try.
The Flowing Love Meditation is a guided meditation. What this means is that you simply play the video, listen and follow my guidance.
Also, remember to keep practicing. Persistence is the key.
Just like an Olympic athlete does not start as one. The athlete needs to practice every day to achieve that status. So it is the same with meditation. You need to practice.
As you practice, you will attain peace and calm. You may even reach bliss, rapture, and the other stages of meditation. As you do, you will find that all doubts will be erased.
So, practice the Flowing Love Meditation daily.
What are the 5 Obstacles of Meditation, and How To Overcome Them?
Timotheus Final Thoughts
Flowing Love Meditation
Do not be discouraged when you face any of the 5 obstacles of meditation that I have mentioned today. Everyone faces them. Even me.
I have presented the solutions to overcome each of the obstacles. When you face any of them, use the solution that I have given.
Do you have any questions about What are the 5 Obstacles of Meditation, and How To Overcome Them? Leave your questions as comments. I will be happy to answer and help you.
I will be sharing more about spiritual experiences, meditation and meditation related topics in future videos and blog posts. Remember to join the Flowing Love Meditation community to be updated whenever I publish a new video or blog post.
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Timotheus has been meditating since a child. He believes thoughts become things. And shares posts to encourage everyone to have a positive mind. He also shares his spiritual knowledge and experience when he can in the articles he writes. To learn more about him, and Flowing Love Meditation, Click Here.