The 5 classical hindrances are:
- Thoughts of Sensual Pleasure
- Anger and Ill Will
- Sloth and Torpor
- Restlessness and Guilt
Why does it matter?
The hindrances are certainly hindrances to any part of the path, but the idea here is that they are hindering you from deepening your meditation and reaching jhana. When I think of hindrances in meditation, I usually just list one: thinking about stuff. But if you drill down a little, chances are you are thinking about someone you are angry with or that new iPhone you really want. You are distracted because you can’t sit still, or you are just feeling lazy, or both.
There is an idea that meditation is just about sitting and focusing on the breath and that’s it. But if you are overwhelmed by doubt or lost in a sea of sleepiness, you won’t get far. To get far in meditation, know the hindrances, and know how to overcome them.
Here is a great sutta on getting ridding of hindrances in meditation.