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If You’ve Tried Meditating But Can’t Sit Still, Here’s Why Try Again – NBC Chicago

The first time Marcelle Hutchins sat down to meditate, she did a guided session, relaxed her shoulders, and tried to close her eyes. It lasted two minutes.

“I had a deadline and I thought, ‘I don’t know if I can sit still that long,’” said Hutchins, who worked as a radio reporter.

Under pressure from her father, a longtime practitioner, she tried again and managed to complete a 10-minute video on her third attempt. “I remember feeling this feeling of joy and relaxation,” she said. “I was that person who said, ‘I can’t meditate.'”

Hutchins has since become a certified meditation teacher – and shows that busy, restless people who try once should try again. Research shows that a daily meditation practice can reduce anxiety, improve overall health, and increase social connections, among other benefits.

The trick is to overcome this initial obstacle. Experts say this is most achievable when you throw common misconceptions out the window. For example, many people only try meditation once because they feel like they’re doing it wrong or can’t turn off their brain.

That’s not the point, says Tara Brach, who has a doctorate in psychology and has trained more than 7,000 people to become meditation teachers.

“It’s not about stopping the thoughts. The mind generates thoughts the same way the body creates enzymes,” she said. “It’s about being able to move beyond thoughts and witness them.”

Start simple

There is no right way to meditate, Brach emphasized.

The key is to relax and focus on something in the present moment. Feel your breath pass through your nostrils, listen to a guided recording, mentally scan your body from head to toe, repeat a love phrase to yourself, or try countless other techniques.

You can sit on the floor, on a chair or on a cushion. If you can’t get comfortable, lie down. You don’t even need to close your eyes, although it is recommended to try.

There is no standard length of time to start, but set an achievable goal.

“You can personalize it to who you are,” said Brach, author of several books, including “Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha.”

“Start with the most you can comfortably do without feeling like stopping,” she said.

That could mean getting started in just a few minutes, said John Mitchell, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University who uses meditation to treat ADHD patients. The goal should be to integrate meditation into a routine and focus on the quality of the practice, not the quantity.

“So the question is: What are we doing to create success so that we can have momentum and get going without feeling like we’re failing in a good way? he said.

When you can’t sit still

When you inevitably become distracted – everyone does – notice the thought or urge to move, acknowledge it, and bring your attention back to where you are.

Instead of judging yourself, be curious for a moment about the nature of the agitation, Brach said. Ask yourself, “What does it really matter if I want to crawl out of my skin?” »

Then take a long, deep breath and sit for another minute. If you still want to move, then move. But Brach recommended doing it conscientiously. Stand up, do a light stretch, take a deep breath, and sit down again. You’ll be surprised how much that feeling of restlessness will change over time, she said. “It will evolve.”

If the restlessness reaches a point where you’re uncomfortable, consider taking a slow, meditative walk, Mitchell said. Stay alert but calm, focusing on the sounds, sights and smells around you, or perhaps the feeling of the wind and sun on your face.

“You’re not limited,” he said. “You don’t have to sit silently and be still all the time.”

Tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, try again

After completing the first session, you will almost certainly feel calmer, regardless of the duration. But to reap the full benefits, like exercise, research shows you need to practice regularly.

For people struggling to get started, it can be intimidating, but Brach suggested trying a few techniques to find the right solution.

“It takes a little experimentation to find the style of meditation that suits your body, mind and personality,” she said.

Fortunately, there is a world of free meditation resources online.

“No one reading this needs to go buy anything,” she said.

Here are 7 different types of meditation to consider if you want to start the practice.

NBC Chicago

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