Mindfulness has gained popularity in our frantic world complicated by the coronavirus pandemic. Despite many changes in the climate and economy, it has always been the human instinct to seek rest and contentment. Whatever we do in our lives, we seek ease in our hearts. We plan activities to manage boredom and restlessness. Or we plan to achieve things in our lives, in the hope the achievements bring us happiness. Otherwise, we drink, to drown our sorrows in the hope that happiness returns. Although mindfulness has been championed as a do-it-yourself happiness technique, it is nevertheless hard to practice. First of all, mindfulness is hard to understand. Secondly, there are 5 obstacles to practicing mindfulness towards sustained well-being.
1. We are busy with restlessness
It is difficult to have clarity of mind when we busy ourselves most of the time. For instance, most people always say they don’t have enough time to spend with the family, much less practice mindfulness. Our minds are naturally restless, jumping from one thing to another. You can easily see this in the conversations we have with others.
Restlessness is always at work in others’ and your own behavior. You may find yourself listening to music at this moment. After a while, you find it a dissatisfactory activity and move on to something else. Or you change from one song to another quickly. It is hard to find a person at ease and not needing to do one activity after the next in relatively short succession of time unless it’s work we need to do for survival.
The solution to restlessness is to take a few relaxing breaths and watch if your mind is trying to find something to achieve. Tell yourself to relax and it helps when you consciously release any tensions in your body by letting them go with your out-breaths. Find contentment in the present moment and see that there is no need to rush to do one thing after another and there is no need to strive.
2. Lethargy and laziness
Laziness and lethargy are the heaviness of the mind and the body. This can happen when we are too relaxed in the practice of mindfulness. When we are too relaxed, we may become sleepy and want to lie down instead. You may find yourself sleeping instead of practicing mindfulness. If the mind is dark and slothful., the body naturally follows the mind.
A way to overcome lethargy and laziness as an obstacle to practicing mindfulness is to go and wash your face. You can also try walking to get some energy in the body moving.
One of the 5 obstacles to practicing mindfulness is the sense of uncertainty. You may wonder, where is this practice heading to? What is the use of being in the present moment? Or you could think, is there really such a thing as sustained well-being?
Sometimes we may get tired and doubtful halfway on the journey before we see any landmark towards our destination. Curiosity and determination are supports needed in the mind to keep one steady in the practice of mindfulness. Having a teacher who is more experienced than you can also help encourage you.
4. Seeking pleasures
Another habit of our minds is to always seek pleasures that please our senses. Our bodies are delighted by sensory happiness such as having delicious food, seeing beautiful things, chatting to having massages. The thoughts of pursuing anything to satisfy our senses overtake the awareness of the present moment in our minds.
To counter our addiction to pleasing our senses, some wisdom is needed. We have to understand that our bodies don’t last forever. Therefore, if we are dependent on something that can decay, our disappointment is a certainty. That’s why many people who suffer bodily ailments, who are unable to please their senses anymore feel that their lives are over. I have met people who continue eating foods their doctors advised against claiming that to be able to experience all the things that please the senses is life.
Is life really only about finding pleasures for the senses that are not dependable? Or would it be wiser to find relief in something more dependable? What about seeking peace in the mind instead? The mind or awareness, as opposed to the body, does not change its quality. Awareness does not age like the body. Have a look within and see it for yourself – which is a more dependable form of happiness, awareness, or the body?
5. Anger and aversion
When we seek pleasurable things and don’t get them, we tend to get upset. We also resist things we dislike or cause irritation. Anger and aversion are the last of the 5 obstacles to practicing mindfulness. We often spend our time running after sensual pleasures or getting annoyed we don’t get what we want.
This cycle of running after what we like and pushing away what we dislike keeps our minds busy. When the mind is busy, it can hardly see how it is causing itself distress. When the mind is in distress, it strives to do more to try to get out of feeling negative or uneasy.
Mindfulness is the awakening of our awareness so that we can see what our habitual minds are up to. Only when we start to see, do we start understanding the way leading to ease and contentment – a stable form of happiness in our hearts.
Get in touch with us at Mindful Breath to learn more about mindfulness.