my monkey mind always gets the better of me

Our journey to fully understanding our purpose and value in life — or achieving “self-mastery” — begins the second we are born. It requires a commitment to building patience, discipline and self-awareness.

Master Shi Heng Yi

I had to stop what I was doing and watched this video! I could feel the serenity of Master Shi Heng Yi oozing through my computer monitor. In the video, he lays out the 5 hindrances to self-mastery.

Self-mastery is something that sits in the back of my mind. And from time to time, I kid myself into thinking I’m on a journey of self-mastery, but I inevitably make mistake number 2, according to Master Yi:

There are two mistakes along the way to mastery: not starting it and not going all the way.

Notice how calm you feel after watching this video.

So the 5 hindrances to self-mastery are:

Sensual desire:

Sensual desire is intertwined pleasure, and it arises when we have a deep craving for something that stimulates one or more of our five senses (vision, hearing, smell, touch and taste). 

Ill will/aversion:

Ill will is the opposite of sensual desire. It’s the mental state of not wanting something, because of a strong dislike or rejection towards it. It might involve an activity, situation or person.


A state of inaction leads to sloth and torpor. It’s a result of having low energy and a lack of motivation. Sloth and torpor can also come in the form of defeat, self-pity, thoughts of futility, complacency or even depression.


Restlessness is the result of an unsettled mind. This often happens to people who are constantly worried or anxious about the future, or who judge themselves (or others) for their actions.


Skeptical doubt leads to uncontrollable hesitation and questioning. This hindrance can be likened to a tub of water stirred with mud, and placed in a dark room. The lack of light and cloudiness makes it hard to see clearly.


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