Last month I wrote about the hindrance of “sloth and torpor,” the dullness of body and mind that gets in the way of clear seeing, insight. This month, I’ve been more aware of the opposite of sloth and torpor, which shows up in the form of “restlessness and worry”, the fourth of the five hindrances. And I’ve been noticing it not just in myself, but in many people coming on retreat.
The first few days of a retreat often involve swinging from one extreme to the other: from sleepiness to restlessness and back again, over and over. That’s probably always been the case, right from the time of the Buddha. But these days, restlessness in particular is intensified by our addiction to all things electronic, which keep us in a state of perpetual stimulation and/or anticipation of stimulation. It’s getting harder and harder to unplug. So in response, some meditation centres are asking retreat participants to commit very specifically to “undertake the training to refrain from using electronic devices while on retreat” as a part of their commitment to Noble Silence. Continue reading