Restless leg syndrome

Restless leg syndrome

by Headspace_HQ » Wed Jul 16, 2014 11:38 pm


I suffer from restless leg syndrome. When sitting for a long time or when I am tired my legs begin spasms. This is distracting when it happens while meditating. At this point Andy talks about welcoming pain and letting the mind sink down into it and creating space around it. I'll see if doing that helps, but so far not. Any ideas?

Andy's Answer:

Restless leg syndrome (RLS) can be both painful and frustrating. A surprising number of people suffer from it. It's worth speaking to your GP, just to chat through the options. As you say, it often gets worse when the body is tired, the irony being that it also a common cause of insomnia.

So, the first thing I would suggest is to try and do your meditation at a time of day when you are feeling as fresh as possible and least likely to experience RLS. The next thing is to ensure that your posture is as good as it can be, as any minor discomfort is likely to stimulate the feeling of restless legs. You may even like to experiment with lying down, flat on the floor, with a thin pillow under your head and your knees bent at 90 degrees to take the pressure off your lower back.

Assuming you've done all of these things and the sensation or pain continues, the next step is to look at our reaction to the pain and find a way to relate to it which is going to be helpful. Simply acknowledging the resistance towards the sensation can often take the heat out of RLS. It won't necessarily stop immediately, but we may well notice a decrease in the intensity of feeling.

The idea you mentioned of 'sinking down into the discomfort' is not easy when the pain is always on the move, so it might be necessary to try a slightly different approach. See if you can follow the triggers or impulses of pain or movement as much as you can instead. It's a little like playing a game, where you are trying to keep track of something which is moving from one place to the next in quite a steady way. It's important to do this with a very light touch, a very gentle attitude, as though we are not really associating too strongly with the result itself, more interested in the process instead. By doing this, we essentially use it as a new object of meditation and it therefore ceases to be an obstacle, but rather something we can use and benefit from instead.
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