Wherever I go, wherever I am, here it is, the hindrance of anxiety. The discomfort has been enough to make me want to figure out what to do with it. I have remembered Mingyur Rinpoche's teaching about turning the panic into the object of one's meditation. In between breaths, seeing the beast, and letting myself feel its whole effect on body, heart, and mind. Becoming further convinced of its invasive nature. I know I am holding the tiger by its tail, and I take heart. Sitting some more, I find two other hindrances trailing not far behind. Anger seems to be the source of the restlessness, and underneath the anger, desire for some guarantee of pleasantness. Hindrances often come in a pack . . .
Hindrances are part of the ordinary human experience. Our freedom lies in our ability to recognize them for what they really are, as opposed to falling prey to their deceiving ways. The mindfulness tradition provides us with a method for removing the hindrances:
1) Have a sense that the hindrance is an unbeneficial state of mind, e.g, I need not worry if there is nothing I can objectively do about the object of the worry.
2) Separate the object of the hindrance from the hindrance itself, e.g, the problem is not the object of my worry, but the worrying itself.
3) Let go of the negative thoughts that accompany the hindrance.
To remove hindering thoughts, we are to follow the following sequence - from The Removal of Distracting Thoughts:
1) Change the object of our thoughts to one that is skillful. Loving kindness is one such practice. We orient the mind and heart towards love.
2) If still hindering thoughts, contemplate the drawbacks of those thoughts, particularly their effect in terms of stress on our body and mind.
3) If still hindering thoughts, shift to ignoring the thoughts.
4) If still hindering thoughts, relax the fabrication of those thoughts.
5) If still hindering thoughts, say a firm no to the thoughts.
When feeling anger toward a person, we learn to subdue our anger, by practicing one of those five ways - from Subduing Hatred:
1) Develop good will for the other person
2) Develop compassion for the other person
3) Develop equanimity toward the other person
4) Pay no attention to the person
5) Contemplate fact that the person is the in-heritant of his own karma
Other instructions aim at the same thing, namely to focus on the good qualities of the other person, and to realize our lack of control over another person's actions.
In the end, letting go of the hindrances is the result of clearly seeing their detrimental impact on our own mental health, and of using skillful strategies to remove the disturbing thoughts at the root of the hindrances.