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What do you do when the body keeps fidgeting or the mind won’t stop chatting to itself?

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So as we pause and sit to observe the mind to get some headspace, there are lots of things that we can experience. And one of the most common ones is a feeling of restlessness. Of course, that's not why you sat down, is probably not what you had hoped to experience, but nonetheless, it's one of the more common ones. And restlessness can manifest in many different ways. It can be a body that just doesn't want to sit still and keeps fidgeting, moving. We just can't seem to kind of find that sort of place of quiet, ease and comfort, or it might be our mind it's overly active, it's overly busy. It just doesn't seem to stop chatting away to itself. It's looking ahead to the future, it's looking back at the past, it's doing everything it can other than simply being present in this moment, focusing on whatever object that technique might be recommending. So what do we do when we find our mind in this state? And it's tempting, right? To just think, "Okay, I'm not cut out for this." And to walk away from it forever or to think, "Okay well, now's clearly not a good time. So, you know, I'll just come back and do it another time." And to somehow run away or try to get away from that feeling because we don't like that feeling. But if we run away from it within the framework of the exercise, then we will always be running away from restlessness. And ultimately and you'll see this for yourself, once we train our mind on a regular basis, ultimately we get to a point where it doesn't matter. The mind can be busy and we're okay with it. The mind can be quiet and we're okay with it. Ultimately it's not the thing. It's how we relate to it and our perspective of it. So over time we have conditioned ourselves, habituated ourselves to resist a busy mind although we encourage it on the one hand, we don't like the feeling of it. So as soon as we sit and we pause, we become aware of it. We become aware of the feeling and therefore resistance immediately arises in the mind. Now, of course, the more we resist it, the more tension we create. So we tend to create even more restlessness in the body. Not only that, but we then start to think about it. So within not only do we have the restlessness itself, the original restlessness, we now have a new level of restlessness where we're thinking about our restlessness and wishing we didn't have our restlessness and thinking how we can get rid of it. So obviously these things are counter productive and ultimately we need to learn how we can just really sort of step out of that. Not thinking about the restlessness, not constantly moving around or getting up and walking away, instead just bringing our attention to that...


Duration7 min

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  • A former Buddhist monk, Andy has guided people in meditation and mindfulness for 20 years. In his mission to make these practices accessible to all, he co-created the Headspace app in 2010.

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