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Two Steps to Deal With Restlessness in Meditation

Personalized support for learning how to integrate mindfulness into your life. Delivered fresh everyday by our world renowned experts. Choose meditation duration:

Hi, and welcome to your Daily Mindfulness. Today I'm going to talk about a two step approach to dealing with restlessness if it comes up in meditation. So, first of all, it's important to know that it's really quite common to feel restless from time to time in our practice. It really happens to all of us. Sometimes it can occur because we're going through a period of stress in our lives, and so the mind is quite agitated or it could be that we've had a really busy day or a really difficult day and so our body and mind are kind of revved up.

Sometimes it can happen because there's pain in the body or discomfort of some kind, so that can bring on restlessness. And some days you know, we just experience agitation, impatience, or an unsettledness in ourselves for really no good reason that we can understand. It just arises. But when it does, when restlessness is there, it's very tempting in those moments to just think, you know, okay, this practice is not working today, or I'm no good at meditation, and you just get up and walk away from the practice. Or maybe we sit there, but we kind of grit our teeth and try to just get through the meditation.

Or perhaps we start wandering off into constant distractions so that we don't have to feel so directly the uncomfortableness of what we're feeling. But from the perspective of mindfulness, these strategies are all different forms of trying to run away from that restless feeling. Whereas what we want to learn is to cultivate throughout practice this ability to stop running from our feelings so that we can bring awareness and compassion to them. So we transform our relationship with the restless. So you can deal with restlessness in two simple steps.

The step one is simply to allow it and relax with it. So in this step, you can start by mentally saying to yourself, okay, restlessness is here. This is a way of bringing acceptance to the feelings. So you're essentially saying, okay, I see you restlessness. You're welcome here.

And then you just kind of have a sense of making room for it in your experience. You don't have to like it or want it. You're just accepting that it's here. Now, if the restlessness is only mild, that might be enough. You don't need to give it any more attention that it really needs.

But if the restlessness is really pulling at your attention, then you go to step two. Now step two is to basically take your focus off the object of meditation, say the breath, for example, and actually bringing a curious, kindly and compassionate awareness right into wherever you feel the sensations of the restlessness the strongest in the body and explore them. I like to imagine that I'm breathing a kindly and soothing awareness right into and out from the sensations of restless. Now it might sound counter intuitive to move closer to the feeling, but if you can deliberately surround the agitation with a calm, accepting awareness, then you transform your relationship to the feeling and train your mind to stay steady in presence and peace, no matter what emotion is passing through it. We'll explore this a little more in today's meditation.

So let's now settle in for that. And as always, thank you for your practice.

Melli O'Brien

4.7

Two Steps to Deal With Restlessness in Meditation

Personalized support for learning how to integrate mindfulness into your life. Delivered fresh everyday by our world renowned experts. Choose meditation duration:

Duration

Your default time is based on your progress and is changed automatically as you practice.

Hi, and welcome to your Daily Mindfulness. Today I'm going to talk about a two step approach to dealing with restlessness if it comes up in meditation. So, first of all, it's important to know that it's really quite common to feel restless from time to time in our practice. It really happens to all of us. Sometimes it can occur because we're going through a period of stress in our lives, and so the mind is quite agitated or it could be that we've had a really busy day or a really difficult day and so our body and mind are kind of revved up.

Sometimes it can happen because there's pain in the body or discomfort of some kind, so that can bring on restlessness. And some days you know, we just experience agitation, impatience, or an unsettledness in ourselves for really no good reason that we can understand. It just arises. But when it does, when restlessness is there, it's very tempting in those moments to just think, you know, okay, this practice is not working today, or I'm no good at meditation, and you just get up and walk away from the practice. Or maybe we sit there, but we kind of grit our teeth and try to just get through the meditation.

Or perhaps we start wandering off into constant distractions so that we don't have to feel so directly the uncomfortableness of what we're feeling. But from the perspective of mindfulness, these strategies are all different forms of trying to run away from that restless feeling. Whereas what we want to learn is to cultivate throughout practice this ability to stop running from our feelings so that we can bring awareness and compassion to them. So we transform our relationship with the restless. So you can deal with restlessness in two simple steps.

The step one is simply to allow it and relax with it. So in this step, you can start by mentally saying to yourself, okay, restlessness is here. This is a way of bringing acceptance to the feelings. So you're essentially saying, okay, I see you restlessness. You're welcome here.

And then you just kind of have a sense of making room for it in your experience. You don't have to like it or want it. You're just accepting that it's here. Now, if the restlessness is only mild, that might be enough. You don't need to give it any more attention that it really needs.

But if the restlessness is really pulling at your attention, then you go to step two. Now step two is to basically take your focus off the object of meditation, say the breath, for example, and actually bringing a curious, kindly and compassionate awareness right into wherever you feel the sensations of the restlessness the strongest in the body and explore them. I like to imagine that I'm breathing a kindly and soothing awareness right into and out from the sensations of restless. Now it might sound counter intuitive to move closer to the feeling, but if you can deliberately surround the agitation with a calm, accepting awareness, then you transform your relationship to the feeling and train your mind to stay steady in presence and peace, no matter what emotion is passing through it. We'll explore this a little more in today's meditation.

So let's now settle in for that. And as always, thank you for your practice.

Melli O'Brien

4.7

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