If you find yourself shifting around a lot during meditation, it’s okay.
If you are meditating in a cross-legged position and you often need to change which foot is on top and which is on bottom, that’s okay.
Many people who experience restlessness in meditation, particularly in the beginning of their journey, feel like they are meditating incorrectly.
They think they need to “fix” something.
Or they think there is something wrong with them.
Those experiencing restlessness who have been meditating for years sometimes feel like they are going backwards in their practice.
They remember other sittings when they felt completely relaxed, calm, aware, detached and yet connected at the same time.
They might desire to recapture that experience.
In cases like these, a meditator would be well served to just watch their restlessness.
I experienced this today.
For the first time in a long time, I chose to sit up cross-legged for my still time. Usually I adopt a lying position on my back.
Today I was so uncomfortable!
I couldn’t seem to get my hips to roll forward to support my spine… The ankle on my top foot started to ache (physically, this is a consequence of tight hip-flexors and glutes)… Muscles on the left side of my back were aching… My hands were moving around trying to find their place… I was thinking about random stuff…
At some point there was no escape from admitting the truth. I actually thought:
“Holy shit, I’m so restless!”
Fortunately, it was so obvious that my training – particularly my completion of 10-day Vipassana meditation retreats – kicked in and I had the detachment to become a curious observer of my restlessness.
It was almost like I was watching someone else “try” to meditate.
This continued until, at some point, I noticed that my body had stopped shifting, my neck and jaw lost their habitual tension and my lungs weren’t as strained.
I started to relax.
It’s important to emphasize here that when I consciously gave into observing my restlessness, there was no hope or expectation of it resolving itself.
Actually, I had resigned myself to the fact that today’s session was just going to be a restless one.
With that, came the following realization:
“If I’m this restless just sitting down, I must be as restless, or more so, in my moving about during normal daily activities.”
And this can’t be the most effective way of getting the most out of my time and effort.
So instead of thinking I was doing my meditation wrong (like a beginner might) or wishing I had had a more enlightened session, I accepted that I need to meditate more – and more regularly.