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9 Obstacles to Practicing Meditation

During the first years of our life, we form habits that are not always healthy.

We get used to defending ourselves by developing negative emotions in response to external stimuli because this is an easier way.

These habits are not going to leave us overnight, but if we acknowledge them, and start practicing meditation constantly, we will free our mind and make it stronger.

In Sanskrit, the word ”vighna,” means “obstacle.”

Practicing meditation is generally characterized as difficult to follow under current conditions because its implementation is based not only on understanding and beneficial transformation of the inner nature of man but also on the radical overcoming and overtaking of the ego.

This primarily involves a constant aspiration to completely eliminate especially those habits and prejudices which are not in accord with the true understanding and expression of our genuine and immutable nature; this way, it exceeds and then transcends the limited nature of human personality (however complex it may be) and the barrier imposed by various mental determinations.

Some of these emotional and mental symptoms can sometimes be very strong, becoming real obstacles on our path of spiritual maturity.

List Of 9 Obstacles to Practicing Meditation:

#1 Laziness

Comfort area, convenience, or laziness is primarily a deficiency of desire and will, which means that first, we need to determine it as a psychopathological form.

This condition is known as psychopathological aboulia (unwillingness), representing the inability of the will to make desires and decisions into facts.

Laziness syndrome is actually a continuous state of unexplained lethargy that causes sedentary people to always feel exhausted and spend their free time simply watching TV or lounging in bed surfing the internet.

This behavior is typical of people who never have the mood and energy to start activities that require physical or mental effort, preferring to remain inactive as long as they have this possibility.

The antidote against laziness is physical exercise.

#2 Time

Time is a very important and non-renewable resource. Time cannot be lost, but it can be misused.

Most people who have been successful in life know how to organize their time.

So, if you think that meditation is good for you, but you do not have time for it, remove those activities in your life that do not bring positive benefits.

#3 Excessive Sleep

Many people complain that they never get enough sleep and no wonder when you consider the speed of the events that unfold in our world today.

On the other hand, however, too much sleep can be harmful as well (note –  too much is defined as greater than 9 hours). There seems to be a number of risks associated with excess sleep, just as it happens when we do not get enough rest.

Oversleepers may experience: cause less fatigue, blues, feeling of “heavy head”, headache, loss of appetite, irritability, apathy, constipation. All these “benefits” of excessive sleep do not help us achieve meditative states. Besides, we are wasting time we could use so much better.

Main causes of excessive sleep: staying late at night (1 am, 2 am ..) – ideally, our sleeping hour should be 10 pm. 

#4 Restlessness

It is our inability to calm the mind.

Antidote – practice breathing exercises before starting to meditate.

#5 Fear

Fear occurs when the mind begins to create negative scenarios. When we do not know what follows, we need to fill our mental space with something, thus creating our own scenario.

If the scenario is positive, very well, but if it’s negative and we anticipate loss, then there is an emotion that we call fear.

Before facing the fear, it is necessary to recognize it and accept it.

Many of us pretend to live without fears, but in reality, we hide them somewhere so that they do not seem so obvious. But that doesn’t mean they are not there and do not influence us. When bravely face your fears, you realize that your mind fears are much stronger than they really are. Once you understand this, you are a step away from overcoming them.

Practicing a proper breathing technique is enough to dispel fear and anguish as soon as it appears.

#6 Inertia

In Sanskrit inertia is called laya. It is a state of mental drowsiness. To prevent inertia during the time you are practicing meditation, meditate when you are rested.

#7 Doubt

Doubt occurs in a human being that lives centered in the mind, not the heart. You can not remove distrust within yourself through words or fighting, but by returning to yourself.

“No one has ever reached the being’s depth, the supreme state of bliss, with doubt – no one, ever.” – Osho’s quote.

#8 Pride

Briefly defined as self-overestimation and at the same time underestimation of others. In other words, the pride man “climbs” on a “pedestal” and looks down on the people around him.

The pride man will always say that HE alone holds the ultimate truth and the key to solving any problem in any situation. He will always have something to criticize about those around him, whilst praising about his “extraordinary” achievements.

Antidote – Do not attach to anything that your mind forges. Let experiences come and go.

READ MORE: Meditation For Healing The Body And Mind

#9 Karma

The force of old impregnation, or samskaras – these are the remains of past experience – in thought, word or deed, good or bad. Our current experience is the result of these actions.

Swami Sivananda explains:

„When the aspirer imposes himself a strict spiritual discipline, when practicing intense sadhana, in order to eliminate old subconscious impressions (samskaras), they are struggling to survive and attack twice as strong. They take shape and roll over him like stones. Old samskaras of hatred, enmity, jealousy, feelings of shame, lack of human respect, honesty, of fear, etc affect him in serious forms; they are updated as soon as the opportunity presents itself. The aspirer should not lose heart- in time, they will lose power and eventually die.”

Spiritual texts say that all these can be avoided by progressive accumulation of virtues and merits, and are definitively removed by practicing certain spiritual and authentic techniques.

Same sources also state that obstacles may arise not only from a selfish tendency to satisfy various pleasures but also by the stubborn and egoistic practice of virtue and knowledge.

In addition, I should mention that in the writings of oriental wisdom, the paranormal powers (siddhis) are often regarded as some insidious obstacles on the path of complete success, enlightenment, and spiritual liberation.

Do you have any advice or tips regarding 9 Obstacles to Practicing Meditation? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!

Image credit – Shutterstock

READ THIS NEXT: Meditation on Death and Impermanence


Jean Whitred

Sunday 22nd of February 2015

Nine is a curious number. Why did you choose no less and no more obstacles to meditation than nine? Perhaps the secret to successful and satisfying meditation is to discover what unique form seems to work for each of us as individual expressions of Life. And, surely, the best, and perhaps only, antidote to joyous meditation is the lack of joy we feel when connected to Oneness in our own way. Inspiration, too, is vital and when we discover, through trial and error, the forms and teachers who seem to have been destined to inspire us, then overflowing gratitude for the pleasure of being accepted into conscious awareness overcomes any and all obstacles.


Sunday 22nd of February 2015

I didn't chose on purpose nine obstacles. I could add a few more, but I think all obstacles could be incorporated into one - Karma.