You can’t get very far in Buddhism without hearing about the 5 Hindrances.  Here they are with some concise explanations, and a extended simile to help explain them.  In the simile the Buddha said to imaging a pool of water:

  1. Sensory or Sensual Desire – This broad category is basically the desire to have what you don’t have.  Basically it all comes down to sex, food and stuff.  It can be anything related to the six senses … yes I said SIX senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, physical feeling, and thought.  This aversion is like a pool that is colored with ink… it colors your perception.
  2. Anger or Ill-will – latching onto thoughts or feelings based on anger, resentment, hostility, bitterness.  In general this is explosive feelings.  This aversion is like a pool that is boiling.
  3. Sloth and Torpor – sometimes boredom is also thrown in here.   This is a state of being or doing the familiar just because it is familiar even though it not helping yourself or others.  Doing mindless things to avoid the source of your troubles.  This aversion is like a pool is covered in a thick algae.
  4. Restlessness and Worry – This is a state of mind that unable to settle down.  It is not working towards a solution to a particular problem, but simply ruminating about the problem, usually while you are trying to do something else.  This aversion is like a pool being whipped up by a wind.  It is difficult to see through the bumpy and changing surface
  5. Doubt – This is defined as doubt specifically about your meditation practice. More generally it is becoming disheartend in the middle of a long and arduous task. This also may thought of an unrecognized skepticism.  While skepticism may lead to a beneficial change, it probably wont if the skepticism is not recognized and evaluated itself … doubt your doubt.  This aversion is like a pool of muddy water.