Friday, January 12, 2018

Working with the five hindrances

A profound teaching for me in my meditation practice is learning how to clear away the five hindrances.  These states of mind are obstacles to serenity and make concentration difficult in meditation and in everyday life.  Of course I am the poster child for several of these, and so I created some water images as visual metaphors to help me overcome them. The original art is painted chalk on matte board, a technique which creates a shimmer and sparkle just like the surfaces of water.

Skeptical doubt can take over the mind and I wonder, "Am I doing this right?  Why do this at all?" The tiny tree growing in tumultuous water and hard stone is like my struggle for quiet and concentration.

When I think a good thought for myself, it is hard to also think a doubting thought for my progress.

Spiritual torpor is sluggish and cloudy, like stagnant water over mossy rocks. 

When I overcome my drowsiness by focusing on the dazzling light and myriad detail of nature's calm, I understand her instruction: don't be lazy.

Ill will in all its forms, from irritation to anger, destroys my peace. 

The water cannot be released from the boiling cascade of its downward flow, but I can have the patience of the rocks in its path who seem to know that less is more.  

Agitation and restlessness are like water rippling and pouring everywhere at once.  My worry will bubble over everything I have done, and not done.  

This agitation will cease when I just stop.  Breathe.  Be in this moment, because this moment is my life. 

Desire is more than mere liking.  It is the distraction of craving.  

When I understand that naming it makes it so, I can release my wanting by naming, and therefore recognizing, my feelings of contentment with how things are.

A set of five prints of these conversations with water is available in my Etsy webstore.  Perhaps you also have a struggle with doubt, laziness, anger, worry or desire, and would like to contemplate the teachings of water when working with the five hindrances.