Doubt is the fifth hindrance or difficult energy that we encounter in practice and life. We know when it arrives as a hindrance: the mind says, “What am I doing here? Does this mindfulness stuff really work?” “I can’t do this—others are sitting still like Buddhas, not me; maybe belly dancing would be better.” With fear and resistance, the mind flickers, is indecisive. What makes doubt particularly insidious is that it saps our energy—we stop looking and the light seemingly goes out of practice.
One antidote to the hindrance of doubt is re-awakening faith that first brought you to practice. Remember the motivations of finding peace, wisdom and compassion. They were good reasons then and still are now. To strengthen faith, reflect on the teachings and revisit what inspires you—those before us who pursued this path to awakening, books, teachers. Ask questions of your teachers for different perspectives. Doubt is natural—not something to be ashamed of or to keep hidden away.
Another antidote is resolutely re-establishing loving awareness. If we pay attention with non-identification to the words in the mind, without being overwhelmed by their content, we can learn about the ungraspable and impermanent nature of mind. We can see how not being caught in various moods and states of mind, they come and go without our drowning in them. Doubt itself becomes the source of awareness.
The heart that doubts has the seed of knowing that great wisdom and compassion are possible for anyone who undertakes this invaluable training of the heart-mind. Nurture that seed.