So, you’ve been hearing about the benefits of meditation for a few years now and even though all your friends are doing it you’ve resisted drinking the kool-aid. Plus, sitting still in silence while your mind runs laps around your brain sounds like a nightmare.
Nope, I’m good. I’ll stick with going to the gym. That’s my “meditation”.
Sounds familiar? It does to me. If Dan Harris had released his book or 10% happier app 15 years ago I probably would have been the first to buy it.
When I started practicing yoga in 2000 and later teaching, it was strictly for the physical benefits. I was an athlete, a runner, and when I injured my knee and could no longer run let alone walk without pain, I turned to yoga, specifically hot yoga.
Like running, hot yoga provided the perfect balance of sweat and silence. It helped me burn off excess energy so I could stop being so fidgety and sit still in class and actually fall asleep at night. It made sense, I was dead tired after each class, my muscles were sore, and judging by my soaking wet clothes I knew I had done something.
A few years later my yoga practice evolved and I began to discover there was more to yoga than asana. I appreciated the power of breath and body awareness.
But when my teacher asked us to sit in stillness, focus on the breath meditate for 10 minutes. I was about to lose it.
Within seconds my mind began to race, my eyes were rapidly blinking under my closed lids, and time seemed to have stopped (not in a good way).
It was then I had decided meditation wasn’t for me. It was for crystal carrying, incense sniffing hippies who had nothing better to do than sit around and daydream.
Fast forward 15 years and I have a new appreciation for meditation and fidgety skeptics. I also love my crystals and incense and happily sit around with my eyes closed any chance I get.
Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics
As a fidgety skeptic the one thing I wish I knew then that I know now is that thoughts are a natural and normal part of meditation.
I was so focused on having no thoughts and living into some perfect idea of meditation that I was missing the whole purpose of meditation which is to be present in my current reality. At the time that reality was full of thoughts.
I also wish I knew more about self- acceptance back then. The yoga community presents a perfect image of calm, cool, and collected. As a young 24 year old, I didn’t always fit that mold and it made me even more anxious to try to be something I wasn’t.
Lastly, I wish I knew that Meditation is a workout for the mind like running is a workout for the body. It’s not a race that has some finish line. Therefore, you must show up daily to train, rain or shine. Over the last 10 years I’ve really grown in my meditation practice, I’m a little less fidgety and a little more patient but by no means am I perfect. Rather than feeling anxious on my mat I’m now curious.
Okay mind let’s see what you got going on.
5 Minute Meditation for fidgety skeptics
What helped me in embracing meditation and stillness was the permission to stay as long or as short as I wanted to in that space. Why torture yourself for 30 minutes when you can enjoy yourself for 5 minutes?
Like any change management plan, change takes confidence. And confidence is built with time and encouragement. Start with a 5-minute breath focused meditation first thing in the morning and build from there.
Also change needs to be as easy as possible. If you spend your meditation wondering how much time has passed, your mind will be even more distressed. Try using a timer like Insight Timer app to keep track of time so you can stay focused on you. Or sign up for the 5 minute mind program and learn how to meditate one minute at a time.
Here are some other products that could help you get a little more cozy with your practice.
As always don’t just take my word for it. Go out there and try it for yourself. Report back and let us know how it goes.
Ritu Riyat is an Applied Yoga and Meditation coach and Diversity and Inclusion leader in Silicon Valley. She creates simple habits to support sustainable health through food, movement, and meditation. Download her free guide to a more mindful life.