There is a mythical figure in the Buddhist teachings named Mara. He arrives on the scene in many disguises and disrupts a meditator’s concentration, interferes with the clarity of insight, or tries to seduce the practitioner into wrongful acts. We might see Mara as the personification of hindrances, unskillful impulses, self-doubt, self-destructive habits, and any manifestation of desire, aversion, or ignorance.

Has Mara visited you today?

Perhaps when craving takes hold of the mind and drags you toward the refrigerator, or when anger compels your tongue to shout, or when fear inhibits your ability to make a critical life decision, you might recognize that Mara has found an opportunity. You do not need to be controlled by the forces of Mara. You have some choice.

The next time that you find yourself caught up in a reaction of desire or aversion, you might say “I see you Mara” and take a moment to recognize the desire or see the aversion. Identify them as obstructive forces. By bringing mindfulness to the hindrances throughout the day we gradually weaken these conditioned forces of mind. Mara only thrives in darkness; whenever he is exposed, he vanishes. The light of mindfulness is stronger than obstructive forces. When mindfulness meets obstructions, they weaken, and eventually vanish.