Obstacles in Meditation
The only real impediments regarding meditation are internal rather than external. That is why you must be in total control of your mind. This can be achieved through concentration excercises.
The obstacles to meditation are:
1. Desire to get immediate results.
In the beginning the meditator is full of enthusiasm and intense interest, eager to acquire certain results or paranormal powers. When these results do not manifest immediately, the meditator can feel discouraged, lose interest in the practice and hence decrease his effort. You must not get discouraged if you do not succeed to still the mind after a couple of sessions. You will probably be assaulted by a multitude of thoughts, but you must stay calm and not get disheartened. Negative autosuggestions such as “I will never succeed!” do not help at all. Instead, you must have perseverence, diligence, optimism and faith in success.
2. Improper nutrition.
Each piece of food contains distinct energies. In the same way as the physical body is made up of the raw physical particles of this ingested food, the mind is made up of much more subtle particles of the same food. If food is not pure, the mind gradually becomes impure. Therefore it is adviseable to have a balanced diet which does not include tobacco, meat, alcohol, coffee, or narcotics.
Constant sleepiness and even over-sleeping are the most important impediments in meditation. When some beginners sit still for half an hour, they childishly imagine that the state of lethargy they reach is a peak of spiritual achievement. However during meditation the body should become light, and the mind should be in high spirits; full of serenity, joy, power, lucidity, intelligence, and purity. In a sleepy state however, the body is heavy while the mind is ignorant, dark, and slow. When you feel overwhelmed with sleepiness, throw cold water on the face or perform certain postures (ASANAS) to energize the body. This will allow you to gradually eliminate this state.
4. An unhealthy subtle ambiance
A noisy atmosphere, disturbing books and music, films directed towards horror, violence or trivial activities; all these factors create mental agitation due to inferior resonance.
5. Prejudice, instability, and lack of perseverence.
6. Fear and egotistical opposition towards change.
An important impediment are emotional imbalances and personality defects, manifested as bad habits. The Ego, hidden by the individual personality mask is the greatest obstacle and it must be challenged, because it hides the Divine Self with great skill. It permanently entertains shallow thoughts and lingers in its own feelings and short-lived actions. The need to put the Ego aside is much harder for Western people to understand, because Western society demands steady development of ”individuality”. However, there should be no compromise. In order to make spiritual progress, we must control ourselves, to discipline our senses and meditate steadily.
7. Ilusions, memories, incapacity to live in the present, and tendency towards nostalgia.
8. Inertia and lack of will.
9. Doubt: Does God exist?
Doubt creates mental agitation which blocks any type of progress. Lack of faith is a dangerous impediment which discourages one who has entered the spiritual path. Be aware that there will always be easy and difficult times, but this should never lead us to become inactive.
10. Negative emotions (e.g. anger, hate, uncontrolled passion and attachment, envy, fear, jealousy).
Frequent irritation over minor problems denotes mental weakness. Anger/rage is the most negative of emotions. It causes the mind to suddenly become confused, memory and intelligence to no longer function, and actions can be performed without consciousness nor control. The Hindu masters say he who has succeeded in controlling anger is halfway to liberation.
11. Fear, being afraid of criticism
Fear can be destroyed by refering to our ETERNAL Self, by devotion to an elevated cause, and by consistently cultivating the virtue opposed to it, which is COURAGE.