October 5, 2017

Meditation FAQs: Can I Still Meditate if I Can’t Sit Still?


**Meditation FAQs is a new column answering common questions around meditation. If you have a question of your own, please share in the comments, and I will address it in a future post.


The short and simple answer: yes, absolutely.

There are some schools of meditation that are more austere than others, where meditators are encouraged to sit in absolute stillness for the duration, in order to facilitate the mind reaching deeper levels of stillness.

And that is a wonderful ideal to aspire to.

However, we often find ourselves unable to live up to ideal scenarios—and in meditation, as with many other situations, it is better to do the best we can than to do nothing at all.

We start out with a straight spine; ideally, sitting upright, which facilitates greater levels of alertness throughout—but lying down is okay when back issues prevent comfortable sitting. However, over the course of our sit, we may find that we’ve slumped, and it is better to deliberately and mindfully correct that than to remain “still” in our slumped position.

We may also develop some discomfort in the position, which would be eased by a slight shifting. This is where more austere traditions might encourage us to sit with and through the discomfort. Others see the discomfort as a distraction that takes our attention away from our breath, mantra, or other point of focus. When we gently shift ourselves into a more comfortable position, we can bring our attention more fully back to our meditation, instead of our physical discomfort.

This does not invalidate our practice. If we are gentle with ourselves and allow ourselves slight movements when necessary, we are more likely to stick with the practice long-term. And also, with practice, we may find it easier to sit completely still for longer periods.

On the contrary, intending to sit without moving for the duration of our meditation puts us under pressure and is more likely to increase our sense of restlessness than to ease it.

So, shift your bum, scratch your nose, cough, yawn, or sneeze. And then—as you do with your constant wandering mind—bring your attention back to the present moment. And, if need be, do it multiple times.

Simply be gentle with yourself and do your best. With time and practice, it will all get easier.



Meditation FAQs: How do I Stop Thinking?

Meditation FAQs: Can Meditation Help With my Anxiety?


Author: Hilda Carroll
Image: Unsplash/Arielle Lustre
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy editor: Nicole Cameron
Social editor: Catherine Monkman

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