Week 19: Restlessness

Having learned of the first three hindrances and approaches to managing them, we now move on to the mind states of restlessness and worry. Joseph describes the ways that worry and restlessness may manifest as well as their causes. Joseph further instructs us in what conditions the removal of restlessness, including mindfulness, precise attention, wise reflection and knowing that awareness is already present.

This is the 4th of the 5 hindrances and one that Joseph says does not go away until nibbana is reached. That makes it one that we know deserves ongoing attention.

Questions:

1.     Joseph speaks of a basic framework for understanding the causes for the arising of restlessness as an imbalance of concentration and energy. When you are restless (external or internal), are you aware of this imbalance? How do you experience it?

2.     Do you get caught in judging your progress on the path and/or comparing mind? What is this like and what do you do about it?

3.     Joseph suggests various ways of increasing our mindfulness in order to work with restlessness and worry once they have arisen.  Have you practiced seeing them as “not mine”, “not I”, “not myself”, and how has that worked? Or have you other ways that increasing mindfulness has balanced energy with concentration?

4.     What is your response to the Dzogchen tradition: understanding that the mind’s empty aware nature is already here?

Practices:

1.     Note very specifically (and non-judgmentally) how you are experiencing restlessness at a particular moment, or moments. Do this when you experience it in the body. Do it when you experience it in the mind. Observe if this attentive noting has an effect (don’t expect a particular effect, if possible).

2.     If a situation arises that causes restlessness or worry, consider St. John of the Cross’s statement that “Disquietude is always vanity, because it serves no good.” Can you practice with that, regardless of the situation (big or small).