Setting Aside Sloth And Torpor

This talk is a review regarding how to identify the characteristics of thina-middha, the hindrance of sloth and torpor, one of the contemplations in the Fourth Foundation of Mindfulness.  This quality of diminished alertness and attention is in contrast to the fourth of the five hindrances, restlessness and worry, the topic of the next talk.  Sloth and torpor represent an overactive parasympathetic nervous system in the body, while restlessness and worry represent an overactive sympathetic nervous system function.  Various lifestyle issues that contribute to this hindrance are reviewed as well as ways to use diligent, mindful and clear knowledge of the flow of subjective experience to set its influence aside.  It is intended to be accompanied by “Guided Sloth And Torpor Contemplation”, recorded just prior to this talk on July 21, 2021, posted in the archives.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  Setting Aside Dullness In The Mind

The topic for next week’s review is the hindrance Restlessness And Worry.


Notes For Overcoming Sloth/Torpor and Restlessness/Worry May 6 2020

This is the second of three planned reviews of the Five Hindrances, which are the initial focus for contemplation in the Fourth Foundation of Mindfulness Discourse.  Peter described the Buddhist concepts of Thina/Middha (tee-nah/mih-dah), Sloth/Torpor and Uddhacca/Kukkucca (ooh-dah-chah/koo-koo-chah), Restlessness/Worry as imbalances of the energy systems of the body and mind.  Sloth/Torpor is an overactive parasympathetic system, producing too much tranquility, causing dullness and the inability to be clearly aware to dominate consciousness.  Restlessness/Worry is an overactive sympathetic system, creating agitation, anxiety and worrisome, repetitive thought processes to dominate consciousness.  The primary antidotes for these two hindrances is satisampajanna (sah-tee-sahm-puh-jahn-yah), mindful clear comprehension, cultivated through persisting present-moment awareness of the process of breathing.  Earlier in the meeting, Peter provided a guided meditation for the cultivation of satisampajanna with mindfulness of breathing meditation; the recording of that practice can be found on the Audio page of the website.  It is interesting to notice that steadfast investigation of the process of breathing can be beneficial in calming an anxious mind and alerting a dull mind.  Other tactics for overcoming these hindrances were also reviewed.  The review was followed by questions and comments by those attending the Zoom meeting.

Here are the notes prepared for this meeting:  Notes For Overcoming Sloth and Restlessness May 6 2020

Next week’s topic will review the fifth hindrance, Skeptical Doubt.


Overcoming Sloth And Torpor June 27 2018

This talk is a continuation of several focused on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness Discourse, in particular, the part of the Fourth Foundation describing how to identify and overcome the Five Hindrances.  In this case, the hindrance is thina/middha, sloth and torpor.  This quality of mind is overly sedated, drowsy and lacking in sufficient energy to investigate emerging self-state organizations.  The antidote for sloth and torpor involves a more energetic application of the intention to bring focused attention to the breath sensations and maintain this focus persistently.  When this strategy is insufficient, other useful remedies found in the traditional teachings were described.  Peter emphasized that, when one participates in a retreat lasting at least a week, there comes a period of time when awareness “wakes up”, becoming more alert, manageable and sensitized to mental processes.  This insight reveals how often our everyday consciousness is impaired by “subtle dullness”, such as when daydreaming.  This was accompanied by discussion regarding how this hindrance affects various people attending the talk.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  OVERCOMING SLOTH AND TORPOR

The topic of next week’s talk will be overcoming restlessness and worry.