Why It’s Tough to Sit Still and in Silence During Meditation

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A Remedy for Feeling Restless, and Uneasy During Meditation

It’s 6 am. Okay maybe half past 6, because I snoozed the alarm clock twice. It’s time for my morning meditation. I used to meditate for 30 minutes each morning, but recently I can’t even seem to sit still for 15 minutes. I get distracted, start to twitch, stretch my back, or move my neck around. I feel a need to get up, to do something, to do anything but sit in meditation. I noticed this happening. I noticed that sitting still and in silence had been increasingly harder in the past couple of days, maybe even weeks. I am distracting myself, from what’s going on within me. But why?

Sitting down in meditation sounds easy. To be silent, and sit still. Yet both at the beginning, and over time, you will encounter moments of unease. Of discomfort and distraction. Where you normally would be able to sit still for long stretches, you now seem to not even be able to do half of that. Or maybe you are just starting with meditation and sitting still is in itself a challenge. Is this a natural thing? Is it natural for us to be distracted, uneasy, or uncomfortable during meditation? After all, it’s a tool for us to control the mind, and make us feel at peace, right?

Don’t ‘DO’ Meditation

It is indeed a practice to overtime make us feel at peace. But it’s not a goal, something to obtain. That’s a common misconception of meditation. In meditation we don’t gain anything, we don’t gain happiness, or peace of mind. All we do is let go, and release. So we own nothing, and everything inside us can come and go as they please. Which is a state of peace in the mind, but it’s not through control that this can be experienced. Nor should it be the main reason to start meditating. Meditation is a practice to observe, and understand ourselves, which will make us feel at peace, and often more joyous in life. Yet walking, writing, video editing, talking to people, spending time in nature, are all things that are part of the practice of meditation as well.

Meditation isn’t just sitting still in a room, doing nothing, in silence. It’s in everything we do. Because in essence meditation is observation. And observance, awareness, take place in everything we do in life.

You see, meditation isn’t just sitting still in a room, doing nothing, in silence. It’s in everything we do. Because in essence meditation is observation. Nothing more, nothing less. It is simply observance, and awareness of everything that is, both inside us and outside us. Nothing to gain, nothing to obtain. But the most common way to meditate is to sit still, and with that comes discomfort, unease, and oftentimes distraction. These are the things that make it tough to sit still and in silence. It’s why it’s so hard for me to meditate sometimes.

Everything we do that’s not stillness, or silence during meditation, is a distraction. A conscious, or unconscious distraction from what’s going on within us.

Naturally, I want to do a lot, I work a lot, love what I am doing, and I like to experience as much in my day as possible. But that is the total opposite of what we do in meditation. We don’t DO anything, that’s the whole point of meditation. Especially when I meditate in the morning my mind starts to think of all the things I want to do that day. Reaching from making breakfast to catching up with friends, or writing a daily article. These thoughts of things I want to do, get me twitchy, uneasy, restless. I start to move my neck around, stretch my back, move my fingers, open my eyes, and slightly move my legs. All of this, everything we do that’s not stillness or silence, is a distraction. A conscious, or unconscious distraction from what’s going on within us.

Which raised the question in my mind, why do we want to be distracted? Or maybe why are we distracted? I feel that oftentimes we want to be distracted, we are just unaware of it. We move through a large part of our day, not 100% aware of what we are doing or why we are doing it. We form habits, which become unconscious, things like making our food in the morning, work, taking a shower, all the things we do each day, they become habits. With that, they can be done without thinking, without awareness, and presence of mind. This is what happens when we are just starting with meditation, or do it for a longer period of time. We see it as something to do, to check off in our day, a habit to implement. But meditation isn’t something we do, it’s something we are. We don’t do meditation, we are meditation.

If we see meditation as something to do each day, it becomes a task. If this happens meditation becomes something that we ‘get done’ instead of a chance of not doing anything and be for a moment. That’s why it was so hard for me to sit still, in silence.

That sounds weird I know. So let me explain. If we see meditation as something to do each day, it becomes a task. Which can be mindless. It’s just something we do, and then move on to the next thing in our day. Could be making breakfast, work, or anything else. If this happens meditation becomes something that we ‘get done’ instead of a moment of not doing anything and be for a moment. That’s why it was so hard for me to sit still, in silence. It became something to do, because of that I found myself wanting to be distracted. I wanted to get going, start my day, work, do things. Instead of being for a moment.

So why do we want to get it done? Why are we meditating, if we can’t be for a moment, and are already busy thinking of what to do next? Why are we meditating when we are distracting ourselves? We want to be meditating because it’s something that many people say is good for you. Yet that is only if we are aware, and observe when meditating, instead of doing it for the benefit of feeling more calm and relaxed. This is desire. If we want to do meditation we don’t do it for itself, we do it to get something out of it. The same goes for sitting down in meditation and wanting to do something else. It’s all a form of desire. The desire to have, do, or be, anything else than what is right now.

Desire in all its forms denies what is right now, and wants to obtain or get to an ideal future.

We want to run, distract, or hide from what we are feeling. Desire in all its forms denies what is right now, and wants to obtain or get to an ideal future. Finding out what it is we desire, will help us resolve this feeling of restlessness during meditation.

Cause and Effect

The past couple of mornings I wanted to start my day, instead of meditating. I desired to do something, to work, to have breakfast, to do what I love. Which is a good thing, because I know I love doing it, yet it shouldn’t be a desire. Something that I must do, instead of being aware of what I feel and experience. It shouldn’t mean that I push away meditation because of it. Work or anything I do throughout my day shouldn’t be to run or distract myself from what’s going on inside. That’s what I mean by ‘meditation is in everything we do’. Being aware of everything is most important if we want to live a free and joyous life.

Which made me think about my distractions. Why did I want to be distracted from what I was feeling? And what did my distraction tell me about this feeling? These are the question we should ask ourselves when we find ourselves restless and distracted during meditation. Instead of forcing ourselves to focus, or push the distraction away, invite it in. Learn to understand it. Ask yourself, why do you want to distract yourself from what you are feeling? Why are you running from what is right now?

Understanding my distraction and restlessness during meditation showed me the cause. The cause of my restlessness. The cause of distraction, and not being able to sit in silence, and stillness. This is what get’s us back into meditation.

I realized that I was distracting myself from what I was feeling because I desired to do something. Meditation felt like a waste of time in the past couple of mornings. I thought that working, doing stuff was more important. But what’s the use of doing, working, obtaining, when you can’t be aware of doing it, and therefore enjoy the process? Understanding my distraction and restlessness during meditation showed me the cause. The cause of my restlessness. The cause of distraction, and not being able to sit in silence, and stillness. This is what get’s us back into meditation. Because understanding is observance and awareness.

Understanding why we are restless requires observance of ourselves, asking ourselves questions. Those will lead to answers, and answers will show you the cause. With that, we understand ourselves better, and we no longer need to run from whatever we were distracting ourselves from.

There are ways to deal with distractions during meditation and be able to sit in silence without restlessness or discomfort. Yet these ways are just as much a distraction as your thoughts themselves.

You probably want to know if there is a specific way, or practice to be more at peace. Ways to deal with distractions during meditation and be able to sit in silence without restlessness or discomfort. There are ways, but these ways are just as much a distraction as your thoughts themselves. We could listen to meditative music, but this is nothing more than a distraction from what we are experiencing. Or we could listen to a guided meditation, which is also a distraction. Yes, it can serve as a great way to get into yourself, but the real work of understanding yourself, and feeling peaceful is done yourself. The real work begins when we start to observe ourselves freely. This doesn’t mean we can listen to meditative music, or guided meditations, these are incredible tools and should be used. Yet we will not 100% understand our problems when we have to partially focus on something else outside our thoughts and feelings.

We don’t need to force ourselves to focus, or to be still in meditation. That would be lunatic. If you force yourself to not be distracted you are a dictator to your mind, your feelings, your soul.

You see, we are inevitably going to try and distract ourselves, we are used to doing that. It’s what we’ve done for years, so not distracting ourselves is a hard task to ask from ourselves. And we don’t need to. We don’t need to stop distracting ourselves. We don’t need to force ourselves to focus, or to be still in meditation. That would be lunatic. If you force yourself to not be distracted you are a dictator to your mind, your feelings, and your soul.

It’s not important to try to not be distracted, what’s important is to find out why you distract yourself, to observe what’s happening at the moment of distraction, and allowing it to happen

Distraction as Part of Meditation

Getting distracted by thoughts, or sensations during meditation isn’t the end of the meditation. It doesn’t mean you fail to be at peace. It’s the beginning of your mediation because you have just become aware of your distraction. That’s what meditation is, it is observance and awareness.

That could mean that we sit in meditation for 5 minutes, get distracted and start moving our neck, stretching it, or start to move our body around. We can get distracted by thoughts, and become aware that we are distracted. That isn’t the end of the meditation. That’s what we have come to believe. That the moment we aren’t aware anymore, the moment we aren’t at peace, or focused on our thoughts, the meditation isn’t working. It’s not true, because of what I explained to you earlier. Meditation is in everything. If we are distracted and become aware of that, it’s the beginning of our meditation, not the end. Allow it to happen, and observe why you are doing it. Meditation is the observation of oneself, it isn’t just sitting still, forcing ourselves to not move.

That would mean we are caging the mind, we don’t want that. We want to set it free. We want to feel alive, and that happens through observation. So there is no way to resolve distractions, other than to let them happen and observe them. This morning, before writing this article I sat in meditation. I knew I wanted to write this article, and I knew that this would cause distraction and restlessness. Instead of giving in, instead of believing that the meditation wasn’t working, I dove deeper into it. I felt the restlessness I was experiencing and started to understand it. This can’t be explained to anyone, because a true understanding of something is deeply personal, and can’t be put into words. It’s often a feeling.

I meditated, and soon found myself moving my body. Stretching my neck. Feeling restless. Instead of blaming myself for not being able to sit still, I allowed it all to happen. Remaining aware of it.

I meditated and soon found myself moving my body. Stretching my neck. Feeling restless. Instead of blaming myself for not being able to sit still, I allowed it all to happen. Remaining aware of it. I didn’t stop myself from stretching, from opening my eyes or moving my hands. Instead, I observed all its movements and why I was moving. This is where my meditation began, it hadn’t ended, I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I was doing everything right, all along, because I had been aware of the distraction all this time. Only I believed that distraction meant the end of meditation and that I wasn’t doing it right. Awareness and observation, are always the beginning of meditation, never the end.

Anything that happens during meditation is welcome, it’s just what needs to happen.

Meditation isn’t about full focus on one particular object, although this can be incredibly useful, meditation in its essence is awareness and observation. This means that anything that happens during meditation is welcome, it’s just what needs to happen. It doesn’t need to be gone, forced away, or changed. All we can do is observe it, and understand it. Naturally, it will fade away. To return, and to fade away again. That is the nature of everything. A constant birth and death cycle is going on in everything. So meditation is a practice performed in every moment of our day. It is living, feeling alive in its essence. Because awareness, and observation of our lives that is what it means to be alive. It’s what makes us end our day, and say Today I Lived! I made the most of it.

Even though I told you that guided meditation is a distraction from what’s going on inside you, I still recorded guided meditation to get you going. To have a gentle way into your awareness, after which you can start to explore and discover yourself freely. This meditation is about experiencing, understanding, and observing your distractions, and restlessness during your day. So if you want to experience more clarity on this topic and transform your life, by starting on a journey of self-discovery. To learn how you can tap into your inner wisdom so that you can feel more alive. Then I want to invite you to listen to the Just Now Podcast.

The Just Now podcast is a place for you to just be for a moment. To feel, experience, and understand what it means to be alive. The episodes all give extra clarity on topics discussed in the articles I write through short mindful guided meditations and reflective questions. Serving as a daily check-in to yourself.

I hope to speak to you there, for now, remember today you live! Make the most of it.

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