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  • Writer's pictureElfreda Manahan-Vaughan

How to stop worrying using the Five Hindrances of Meditation.

Last week I wrote about self-acceptance and how it leads to less stress and becoming more relaxed with who you are. This time I want to demonstrate how accepting things as they are rather than how you would like them to be can help free you from worry and over-thinking.

When I teach Mindfulness one of the core teachings is recognising the Five Hindrances of Meditation, which are often called the five hindrances of life. These are as follows:






These five hindrances are often the reasons people give up meditating because it is not what they expected. The five hindrances are also considered the reasons we struggle with our problems, especially the first two and the last one. I am sure you are wondering how this is relevant to worry and over-thinking. To answer this question, I will need to give you an example from one of my classes.

In my Positive Mindfulness class, the participants had the task of observing their thoughts and using self-enquiry to explore a thought when it arose, especially a recurring one. Often when we do this, we realise we have regular thoughts about the past or ones that focus us on our worries about the future. The reason this happens is because the mind will always revisit things that are not resolved. We never think of things that are over, such as what you had for dinner last week or that email you had to write. We only revisit things that bother us or that we are worried about, such as if you think you made a mistake or if you are worried about what someone thinks or if something might happen that you feel you have no control over.

The reason this happens, from a Mindfulness perspective, is because we are not accepting things as they are, we are grasping for things to be the way we want them to be or avoiding (aversion) something that we don’t want to have happen. When we accept things as they are the process of letting go occurs and it takes little or no effort. Here’s an example.

When lockdown started, I had to move my teaching online. This meant I needed a quiet uncluttered space that would not adversely affect my husband as he was at home also. I decided to relocate upstairs to a bedroom that I meditate in but had also become a bit of a storage room. To be honest when I relocated there for teaching, I really only tidied what was going to be visible from my webcam and the rest stayed full of boxes of work stuff and college notes.

The longer I worked there the more I realised how much better it was, I was undisturbed, it was quiet, and I could have enough space for my desk, my meditation corner and, with a big tidy, store all my notes etc out of sight. I started to recognise how much better it would be to see my clients from here also, the only caveat was, it is upstairs in my home rather than downstairs where I currently see face to face clients. I cleaned it up and I am in the process of getting new carpet and will paint it in a few weeks, which means by September I will be able to bring clients to this space and work with them in a confidential and professional environment, except it’s ‘upstairs’.

Every time I thought of this, it felt kind of weird, what would my clients think, and would I feel uncomfortable. I went over and over the reasons why it would be ok, finding all the pros of such a move. I spoke to my husband who thought is was great and a friend who said she regularly had treatments for reiki and other therapies in people’s homes, and upstairs. I had even done that myself, having several massages in upstairs room over the years. It still wasn’t enough and so I reached out to one of my coaches (and teacher). I have a few, different one’s for different things, who all help me figure things out. As I asked her her thoughts, it suddenly dawned on me what the problem was, I was trying to make something into something it wasn’t and probably never would be. The reality is for me having my office upstairs is a little weird and what I had been trying to do was make it feel less weird, or not weird at all by getting other people’s opinions and doing my pros and cons. As long as I did this, I would continue to worry instead of embracing the fact that having my office upstairs is a little WEIRD.

Suddenly, it was ok, in that moment of acceptance I knew what to do. I could explain this to potential clients so they new exactly what to expect, I could also offer the option of seeing them somewhere more neutral such as a local hotel (something lots of coaches do). If I did this, I would be accepting the weirdness and also being practical as to how to handle it, instead of grasping for something that just wasn’t going to change for me.

Now that I have accepted this, I am quite excited about seeing my first clients in my new, weird, office. As it is, they already see me there every week because this is where I do all my Zoom coaching from and teach my online classes, in fact, some of you have already been upstairs in my home virtually in the past few weeks. The truth is, when we try to resist things as they are, we start to worry, we grasp for things to be different or we try to avoid them because it’s not how we want it to be. In the moment of acceptance everything changes.

If you are struggling with worry or over-thinking or need help to accept changes in your life, then get in touch for a free 30-minute chemistry session to see if coaching might be the help you need. If not, you can join my free webinar on the 15th of July 2020 to find out how coaching could help you or someone you know. If you have any questions or want to book a session, email, phone 00353868373582 or PM.

Thank you for reading.

I hope our paths cross again in the future,


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