Week 18: Sloth and Torpor

Joseph continues this week with a discussion of the hindrances known as sloth and torpor. While these are not words we use often in everyday language, most of us readily acknowledge their presence in our meditation practice. Joseph first defines sloth and torpor and describes their more subtle aspects.

As with the other hindrances, he describes what may cause them. He goes on to demonstrate what conditions the removal of sloth and torpor. Finally, Joseph gives instruction on preventing the future arising of these hindrances. We are reminded of the importance of recognizing these hindrances and the wise discernment in using the tools available to us practitioners.


1. Do you note the mental factors of Sloth and Torpor in your practice?  Can you work with them as passing mental states, rather than as a defining characteristic of your mind?

2.  In what form does sloth and torpor appear for you; sleepiness, withdrawing from difficulties, or coasting?

3.  Does sloth and torpor come masquerading as compassion?

4.  Do you use particular techniques to heat up this congealed mind state?  With interest, energy and awareness?

Practice Suggestions:

1.  If feeling the need for a nap, lie down until everything lets go, allowing for deep relaxation.  In the last moment before sleep get up and notice if you feel rejuvenated.

2.  See if you can tell when you are five bites from being full.

3.  Using wise reflection as a remedy for sloth and torpor engages interest and tends to ardency.  A suggested reflection is considering this precious human birth.  Each time sloth and torpor arise and we’re mindful of them, can we take it as a practice opportunity for dying?

4. Engage with good friends and profitable talk.   This is the perfect topic to blog about!