Working with the hindrances:

The hindrances are mental events - such as a wandering, distracted or sleepy mind - that create a distraction from focusing on the meditation object, for example the breath. Hindrances can be counterracted by applying the following antidotes:

Suppression - This refers to consciously stopping the distraction and redirecting the mind back to the object of focus. This method should be used with care to maintain breadth of awareness and is often useful in the first stage or to counterract strong hindrances.

'Sky like mind' - This antidote involves the development of a more expansive mind thus maintaining breadth of awareness - in this approach one aims to reduce attachment to hindrances by regarding them as simply 'passing like clouds in the sky', it is the prefered method for weaker hindrances and is often more applicable to the latter stages of meditation, when some basic focus has already been achieved.

Faith in the practice - Particularly useful as an antidote when one is becoming bored with the practice, can be cultivated by recalling the benefits of previous successful meditation sessions.

Considering the consequences - standard method for fourth stage (bringing in insight elements) and when not generally engaged emotionally with practice or in a state of emotional distraction eg. looking forward to lunch ! One simple approach to this antidote involves recalling negative states when not meditating or after effects of less successful meditation sessions.

Cultivating the opposite:

i) Slight opening of eyes and body straightening when tired.

ii) Focus on the breath when the mind is excessively busy, for example following a busy day.

iii) Focusing on Metta and it's benefits when particularly angry or sad

Meditation and lifestyle:

Your meditation will improve if you pay particular attention to the following aspects of your lifestyle, do bear in mind that these are not ‘commandments’ but are best seen as life training principles :

1) Physical Activity: Avoid activity that is harmful or distressing to conscious beings as much as possible.

2) Speech: Avoid untruthful and unhelpful speech.

3) Mind: Avoid intoxication of the mind and try to develop a ‘mettaful’ attitude to others.