On Craving & Aversion: The Two Hindrances to Mindful Living.

By: Kali Basman  

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It has been suggested to me that you cannot simultaneously stay identified with something that you’re at the same time observing- which is why meditation asks of us to consciously note the feeling tones, emotions, sensations and patterns that emerge in the midst of a mindful practice so that we might UNSTICK from the unconscious identifications of our mental patterns. 

In terms of mental patterns, you can categorize the obstacles of mindfulness into two major hindrances: 1) Craving and 2) Aversion.

I will define them for you now.

Craving refers to our tendency to chase after sensual gratification. Craving occurs when we cling to something we want to remain unchanged, or when we wish something was here that is not. Craving is wanting what is not here right now.

Aversion, on the other hand, is not what wanting what is here now. When we resist, resent, recoil, attack. This is simply craving in reverse- clinging to what we wish or assume should happen instead.

The Buddha suggested that these 2 mind states are what fuel all internal struggles. Craving and aversion are at the root of our suffering.

Photo credit: Kate Michelle Photography

Photo credit: Kate Michelle Photography

That being said, it’s important to acknowledge that it is the human condition. We can not beat craving or aversion because it’s intertwines as part of the human psyche. So how do we navigate these mental patterns without allowing them to contribute to greater suffering?

The Dalai Llama in a lecture once told his listeners that he hates when he orders an ice cream and it melts on a hot day. Having a strong dislike for something is not the problem- your preferences are not what cause your suffering. It’s what happens to your nervous system when you don’t get your preferences met.

So you can have all the preferences you want - be empowered and ask the universe for exactly what turns you on and lights you up- but NOTICE the reactions of the somatic system when you don’t get those preferences met. Find a way to stay ignited regardless.

In the midst of craving or aversion, ask yourself this: does getting your way really matter?

Remember that the goal is to observe and penetrate our patterns, observe their imprint on our neurology.

In a mindful life we are able to host the arrival of craving & aversion rather than become them. Observing them keeps them at arms length- upon observation you can’t stay enmeshed in the intoxicating pull of their narrative.

Want to practice with Kali and learn more about craving and suffering?

Learn more with her upcoming 5 Elements Yin & Restorative training intensives in Manitou Springs, Colorado on August 6-12 & in Sedona, Arizona September 13-19.


About Kali:


International yoga teacher Kali Basman enriches the paradigm of Yin Yoga to integrate distinct aspects of Self into an innate wisdom practice to awaken a rich inner life and radiate with ritual.  Her offering honors Yin Yoga as a tool to surrender to our intrinsic wholeness.

On the textured path of mindful healing,  Kali is celebrated for her integration of the 5 Elements and Chinese Meridian Theory with self-inquiry, embodied Anatomy, Buddhist Philosophy of Equanimity, and sharp intellect.