It occurs to me it is a decade since I first took a mindfulness course. I still can’t sit still.
If you are like me and struggle to do nothing there are simple soothing activities I recommend and also ways to make yourself feel cosy. But alongside these suggestions I am, after all this time, still trying to meditate daily. It’s been a crucial practice this year as I cope with my ongoing illness but it’s often the main thing I will do to relieve stress. The problem is I have never been good at staying still.
Here are my to five ways to meditate for fidgets like me:
By now I know that lying or sitting waiting for bells to chime gets me making to do lists in my head. Instead, I will listed to Guided Meditations by Richard Latham, use Hay House podcast or Growing Mindfulness by Michelle DuVal. I know most of these recordings by heart now, but the opportunity to either follow instructions or even better go on an imaginative journey works best for me.
Though it makes me feel lazy to admit it, I don’t do well sitting for meditation. Even in a class when I did attend, I would sit on my knees rather than criss cross because, again, can’t sit still. I love this cartoon about all the thoughts that go through your head as you try and meditate. I get so preoccupied by my discomfort that I feel a failure at meditation. Of course, that’s part of the experience but honestly I wouldn’t have stuck at the practice so long if I was only allowed to sit.
The Shakti Mat
For years I have lain down for meditation but this year I really upped the practice with a Shakti mat, ie an accupressure mat and pillow. I think this has really helped with my recovery in most recent months. The theory is that after about twenty minutes dopamine reacts to the mild pain of lying across the spiked mat. You lay with a thin layer of clothing on so it is only a very mild pain. I will often shift and move and having that discomfort makes you more mindful, rather than relaxing so much you fall asleep. I find often it helps with emotional release. It may not be what you are hoping if you want to meditate to relax, but often the reason we don’t like to stop is to avoid our emotions. Mindful meditation is a lot about being present and watch as emotions drift over us like clouds.
Lavendar Eye Pillow
I love lavender as it has some happy memories of my Grandma as well as always been considered a restorative. For someone so easily distracted, blocking out light with a lavender eye pillow really works. Often I will listen to meditation on my headphones, a hygge headband adding compression and the eye mask blocking the light. Sensory distractions reduced, I have just about a chance of staying mindful.
Another great way to meditate is to take mindful walks. Again there are guided meditations I use. But you can also take in you surroundings, observe the feeling of your feet hitting the ground and the sensations of the air, sounds around you. It is a good practice to concentrate on sounds because it is so interesting to find out that something irritates you. Some days you only hear noisy cranes and parakeets near by others, when you tune in to the birds, and hear a woodpecker. Again you can watch you emotions and sensations pass over you.
For me, meditation has been a lifeline. I am not sure that all teachers would say I am doing it in any orthodox way but by finding ways that work for me, I help myself be calmer even if I will never learn to sit still.