Gil’s formula for working with hindrances

When we talk about how to handle the hindrances in our minds/bodies, we are talking about ways of dealing with any strong, obstructive state. The general categories of greed/hatred, too little/too much energy, and doubt can encompass many (if not most) of the difficult things that we experience, but even if something comes up that doesn’t fit these descriptions, we can still use the same, mindful strategies.

An important distinction is between states of body-mind that are hindrances and those that are not. Some examples of wholesome mind states: generosity, compassion, gratitude, equanimity, joy, gentleness, and concentration. These states will not get in our way. Generally speaking, the states we call hindrances (and similar) are ones that block us from seeing clearly, from acting with a calm mind, and that cause us to behave in ways that are harmful to ourselves and others.

Below, I offer Gil Fronsdal’s formula for working with problematic states. They are similar to, but slightly different from, Toni Bernhardt’s list, offered in the July 21st post, “Strategies for working with hindrances”.

The RAIN formula:



INVESTIGATE it, be curious. What is it like?
(1) Physically (How does it feel in the body? Is it pleasant? Unpleasant? Does it change?)
(2) Emotionally
(3) Energetically (such as feelings of rushing, sinking, or lifting)
(4) Cognitively (What beliefs or stories do we tell ourselves?)
(5) Motivationally (Is there an urge to act or cling?)

NON-IDENTIFICATION. This is just a passing process that comes and goes, not who we are.

The investigation of whether a currently-experienced mood or mind state is moving us to act (or not act) in a particular way [step 5 above] is particularly interesting. This can be a direct inquiry into our intentions and the source of our intentions, in real time.

The RAIN formula describes one powerful mindfulness process. Please re-read the steps and consider what they might feel like in your own life. You probably do some or all of these activities already, but together they form a coherent and useful guide to living with our unreliable minds. Implementing the RAIN formula wisely, we can gradually loosen the grip of our own clinging nature.

About lynnjkelly

Australian/American. Practicing Buddhist.
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