“The untrained mind is like a wild horse.” - Sakyong Mipham
The five obstacles to practice (or “hindrances” as they referred to in Buddhism) are:
Meditators experience all of these states. During sitting practice, if you notice one of these obstacles, it is useful to name it silently to yourself (e.g., “restlessness,” “worry,” “sleepiness”). If this difficult energy is strong, try not to pull away from it; instead, bring your attention to it with a kind curiosity. Let yourself experience it fully through the sensations in your body, neither getting lost in it nor pushing it away. As best you can, watch what happens without judgment. Let it dissipate as it will, then return to the primary object of your meditation.
As Bhante Henepola Gunaratana encourages in Mindfulness in Plain English, “Examine [the hindrances] to death.” When you clearly see the suffering (stress) created by grasping and aversion, you will naturally start to let them go.
Here are a few helpful hints for sustaining your sitting practice: