Here’s how to gain mental clarity through self-mastery

Master Shi Heng Yi gave a very insightful talk about self-mastery and the path he lays down are methods to seek clarity of oneself are very useful. Once mastered, you’ll be able to discern better yourself, ideas, and the connectedness between them. The result will ultimately lead you to make better decisions. Thus, enabling you to live a better and fuller life on earth while you are still here.

The metaphor of climbing the mountain to reach its peak is akin to everyone in life on their own journey to find out who they really are.

The 5 Hindrances to Self-Mastery

Below are notes I took of the video and expanded some of them to make them clearer.

1. Sensual desire

These are the five senses that a normal human possesses which are as follows: –

  • sight (eyes taking in visual)
  • touch (when you are touching or being touched)
  • taste (mouth eating or drinking)
  • smell (nose breathing in air)
  • hearing (ears taking in sounds)

The question to ask: Am I addicted or obsessed with my physical senses?

The most common addiction we praise and celebrate throughout the world now is Coffee because it smells good but what we wanted is the Caffeine we are craving to make us feel energized.

Remaining with it means you cannot get clarity. So, you should ask yourself “Can I not let it go?”

2. Ill will / aversion

The question to ask: Do I dislike/having negative feelings/resentment/hostility/hatred/bitterness on an object, a person, a situation, a feeling, an idea, a concept, a state?

Whatever you dislike, it won’t make it a pleasant journey unless you let go of this ill will, more likely you will not continue on this journey if you cannot do so.

3. Dullness/heaviness

It was originally translated as sloth and torpor.

The question to ask: Am I unmotivated? In a hole? Stuck? Lack of energy? Trapped?

Buddhism describes it as being imprisoned. In order to continue, you will need to find a suitable way to get out yourself. There is no one shoe that fits everyone. So, it is best to go shop for a fitting shoe for the long journey ahead.

4. Restlessness

The question to ask: Is my mind jumping from thought to thought? Worried about the future or past?

When a person becomes restless there is no time to see things clearly anymore. A metaphor, the monkey mind jumping from one branch to another unable to stay longer than a moment more.

How can a person be able to critically think and discern if a person is in that state?

The best way is to do contemplation and meditation to break through it.

5. Skeptical Doubt

The question to ask: A series of What-If? What would others say about me? Do I have too many doubts? Am I indecisive? Do I lack trust? What is my conviction? What is my resolve?

When a person deliberate too much on an issue, an idea, an objective, a goal. We will tend to ignore and not do it after so much time has sunk into deliberation. It is a waste of energy and time.

The best way is to do enough deliberation then plunge into it. Once you start, follow it all the way until the end.

Photo by Zdeněk Macháček on Unsplash


Technique to use in order to help lessen or stop the 5 hindrances.

  • Recognize
    • Your state of mind at that moment of which one you’re experiencing?
    • Anger? Jealousy? Hate? Pride? Greed? Lust?
  • Accept
    • accept the things as they are and not what you think they should be
  • Investigate
    • why did it come up?
    • what happen if I remain in that state?
    • why you’re experiencing it?
  • Non-identify
    • with that experience: ‘i am not the body, i am not the mind, i am not my emotion’
    • identifying yourself to a thought with a particular thought or emotion can be a trap and why we like to do so is because the mind like to grasp hold onto something.
    • treat them as thoughts coming and going through while not serving tea to them.

Take away

Gaining self-mastery does not mean you need to be a Shaolin Monk and start living in a monastery high up in the mountain. You can start any moment, any place, and in the comfort of your own home.

The question should be, “Are you interested to climb the mountain and see for yourself when you reach the peak?”.

So, are you ready to embark on that journey?


If you are on the same path to delve deeper to understand more about yourself as I am myself. I think the 5 hindrances and RAIN technique are very useful methods to enable us to seek clarity of ourselves.

Any method to remove the dust, blow away the dark cloud, wipe off the thin film covering everything, or wake up from a hypnotic trance is a good thing in my book.

Personally, I try to apply to my own life occasionally when I’m stressed and it has been fruitful to help see through my own bullshit and find remedies to understand and solve it. Let me tell you, it is not fun seeing your own bullshit because you think your own brand of bullshit smells good but it still stinks 🤣

Stoicism teaches us to reason and thinking first when possible rather than bursting out in an emotional tirade. Using the 5 hindrances and RAIN can turbo boost this rational thinking part of Stoicism.

You see, one of the core concepts to start mastering Stoicism is understanding the “Dichotomy of control”. Understanding what is internal and external of us can help incredibly to see things in a much different light and enable us to change what is really within our control and what does not but you mistook that you can.

Epictetus said it best in one of his quotes:

Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever are not our own actions.

by Epictetus

What is in our control are what you have in mind and enable you to take action on while what doesn’t are things that are the immediate external of yourself, or rather, what is not from your mind.

You cannot tell your body to stop dying when you are at the end stage of cancer or not to get ill when it get sepsis. The same example can be seen of reputation, you cannot control the thoughts and opinions but you can change the thoughts of yourself in your own mind of being judged by others.

Both of these schools of thought, namely Buddhism and Stoicism, are very similar to each other, and if you understand how to use them together. I can see it would produce tremendous results.

Take this for what you will and go climb that mountain and I will meet you there at the top.

Stay Awesome!

Featured image credit: Kalen Emsley