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5 signs of breakthrough

Whenever human beings start to deepen in meditation, certain uncomfortable mind-states come up, often just before a shift towards insight. Usually called “obstacles,” these 5 states call for meditation, gentleness, courage and clarity to ride us through the storms.


  • Wanting – a feeling of lack or “not enough”-- a “wanting to get”


  • Aversion, literally “turning away”--aggression, fear, judgment, irritation, boredom, blame–a “wanting to get away” or negativity can take over.


  • Dullness, lack of energy or spaciness--different from simple tiredness, this shutting down or escape is another form of “getting away.”


  • Restlessness, remorse – “too much energy” in body or mind, circling around the past.


  • Doubt in yourself, in meditation, in teachers, in life is different from the “great doubt” of a wide mind that asks in wonder, “What is this? Who am I?” This small doubt feels poor, holds back and gets tangled,  disconnects from confidence in our own resources and the preciousness of life.



Recognize; accept; be curious; don’t take it personally. Sometimes more than one of these energy–states comes up, usually just when we are on our way “in” to a deeper place.

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