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Two Steps to Deal With Restlessness in Meditation

Melli O'Brien



Melli O'Brien



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Two Steps to Deal With Restlessness in Meditation

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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.

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