The five hindrances are:
1. Sensory desire
Working with the hindrances means noticing when they come up and attempting to form a new relationship with them. Rather than being pushed around by them, we can see that they only have the power that we grant them.
We have to take care not to judge ourselves when an aversive or selfish impulse arises. This only creates a new layer of judgment, usually negative.
Our minds are always reporting whether we find this present experience to our liking or not. I’ve noticed that hiking uphill at high elevations brings up a resistant and negative mind-state. And yet ten minutes later, when the vista opens up, it’s a perfect world. I notice my own tendency (perhaps you share this) to think in superlatives – “everything’s perfect” or “everything’s horrible.” But we don’t have to believe everything we think. When we see these thoughts appear in our minds, we can move them from the center of our consciousness into a less demanding position. We can catch our tendency to lean (or race) towards or away from what’s happening, and just rest in the full experience.
Our full experience can, and usually does, include a complex of physical sensations and mental phenomena, only a few of which we can be aware of at any given moment. But we can “drop down” to this most elementary level of experience and give our full attention to it. Inquiry is an important activity related to mindfulness. If we’re interested in discovering our experience more deeply, this can replace ordinary reactivity.
Working with the hindrances in ourselves is a direct path to equanimity. There are moments when we’re not leaning into or away from our experience. We can notice these and enjoy the subtle but powerful mental pleasure of equanimity.