How to meditate if you’re a fidget-pants who can’t sit still

I’m a fidget and always have been. Even in the cinema I’m always twitching in some way or other. So for me meditation was especially difficult to begin within. It wasn’t bad enough that my mind wouldn’t still, but whenever I tried to sit still you could guarantee a mystery itch would appear somewhere. It was as if I was covered with invisible flies every time I sat down to meditate.

Sit still? No please, anything but that!

I think many of us are put off meditation because the idea of actually sitting still and doing nothing is quite alien, and terrifies us. Well, its just not the done thing in modern society to sit and do nothing is it after all?

The struggle is the practise

In my early days of meditation I felt like a caged animal. It was a battle trying to sit still and allow my mind to slow down. But as I became more experienced I realised that the struggle, or an awareness of the struggle is all part of the process of meditation. Basically the only way you can get it wrong is by not even trying it at all, or letting your mind get lost in a river of thought without you realising. Everything else is all part of the process, whether it be noticing how much your back is hurting to wondering why the heck your mind won’t stop bubbling with thoughts. 

Don’t be fooled

I’m sure you’ve seen those cliched stock images of somebody meditating and sat in what looks like complete bliss and a mind empty of thoughts. Don’t be fooled, I bet they’re mentally re-running that traffic jam from this morning and wondering whether they left the back door open.

Options for fidget-pants

Many prefer yoga as it’s a form of moving meditation. A great option for merging mind and body, and for those of us who cant be still. But there is another option if you’re pushed for time and don’t quite feel ready for yoga pants and a top-knot. That alternative is walking meditation…

Walking meditation is unbelievably easy to do, and requires no special kit or even a particularly nice location (although it does help if you have your own Walden pond and a nice stick to stroll around like Thoreau)

Trick your mind on board

Now before you decide I’m waffling and that walking without purpose is a complete waste of time, there is a method to this, as I know the idea of leaving your mobile in the office and strolling without distractions or something to achieve for twenty minutes is the busy person’s idea of hell. But you can turn this into a challenge. That should help convince the compulsive-doer part of your mind initially.

The gamification of meditation

Count your steps and see how high you can get before your mind begins to wander. Keep trying to improve your best score. This will only improve with practise, and the way to get more practise is to walk as much as you can – to work, at lunchtime, home, to the shops – the more you practise the better you’ll feel. Have some fun with it.

A lesson from the window sill

By the way, here’s another tip to help make your walks more mindful. Did you know that butterflies taste with their feet? It’s because their taste sensors are located under their feet, as they don’t have mouths that allow them to bite or chew. So when you’re walking try to ‘taste’ the floor on every step. Notice how things feel underneath your feet. It’s a great way of focusing the mind and improving your ability to concentrate, and lets be honest most of us could do with some help in that area.

Stroll forth & conquer

Try this butterfly walking for the next week or so and see if you begin to notice anything. Reduced stress levels, better concentration, slightly less irritable, who knows. There’s only one way to find out…

Jonathan Pittam

Mental health & Resilience trainer

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