Meditation for People Who Can't Sit Still
Want to meditate but can’t seem to find a quiet, still time? This article reveals how simple it can be to quiet the chatter among the chaos.
The Struggle: Ain’t Nobody Got Time to Sit!
Meditate? Sure, let me add that to the other 5,763 things I need to do today. Carving out a few minutes a day to meditate sounds easy in theory. I mean, how hard is it to find 10 minutes? Actually, really effing hard. You tell yourself tomorrow is going to be the day. Then, tomorrow comes, life happens, and meditation doesn’t. I see you. I hear you. I’ve been you.
Let me introduce you to my good friend, mindfulness. It is definitely a buzzword, but what does it mean? Most people envision themselves in a quiet, peaceful space in a comfortable position with zero distractions - maybe a gong or melodic chanting in the background. This stereotype is exactly why many people can't relate! Hectic lives, busy schedules, and constant technology can make meditation feel like a luxury awarded to the lucky few with ample free time.
The Solution: You Don’t Have to be Still or Quiet to Meditate
Well I am here to tell you mindfulness is always accessible, even for the busiest of busy. It is a form of meditation you can do anytime and anywhere. It is existing in the present - paying attention to the very moment you are living in. Just being!
We all know how easy it is to get sucked into thoughts and feelings. The constant inner chatter of the past and the future. It’s rare to pause that inner chatter long enough to give your senses a chance to notice the present moment. Can you remember the last time you consciously tried to use all five of your senses? The last time you soaked in all your surroundings? That, in and of itself, is a form of mindfulness meditation.
If you are a little rusty firing up the old five senses (many of us are), feel free to utilize my favorite tactic, mindful walking! It is something I sneak in daily. I gained the habit in my prior life when I would sneak away from the hustle of the office for a short walk in the nearby park.
First Things First:
Put the phone away (obvi).
Open your eyes as wide as you can to your peripheral – focus on nothing in particular, and take it all in at once.
Notice all the beautiful colors in your wide field of vision.
Are you clenching your jaw? Relax!
Feel your feet heavy on ground and the sensation as you walk – left, right, left, right.
Feel the sunshine and wind on your face.
Take long deep breaths – notice any scents in the air and the sensation of your lungs rising and falling.
Start to notice the sounds around you. Notice them, but don’t judge them.
Can you hear the sound of your own breathing or feet on the ground?
If you get distracted by a passerby – send them a little love and kindness!
If you find yourself drifting away in thought – no biggie and props to you for noticing!
Whenever you notice yourself distracted, move your attention back to your senses and start soaking it all in again.
The Science: Improving Your Brain Health & Function (Plus, Managing Those Inner Voices)
Using mindfulness to deliberately focus on the five senses has proven to result in material benefits for your brain health and function. Here are just a few tidbits:
Harvard researchers have found that consistent meditation increases brain gray matter within the most advanced region of our brain, the Prefrontal Cortex (PFC).
The PFC is responsible for the most advanced mental functions such as planning, executive decision-making, and the emotional intelligence that comprises your personality. So, kind of a big deal! You can strengthen your PFC through mental practices like mindfulness meditation.
Research has shown that meditation results in an overall increase in neuroplasticity (how the brain grows in response to experience) because it builds and strengthens new functions and skills within your brain.
Most of us have largely desensitized our five senses (thanks to our endless tech distractions), so it’s important to rebuild our sensory attunement — not only for brain health and function — but also for mental health and happiness. Improving your sensory acuity helps you better distinguish between your internal and external states of mind. In other words, this mindful skill helps you manage that exhausting internal chatter by registering what is happening in the here-and-now.
Try it out — live in the present, and enjoy building your own calm among the chaos!
Share your mindful moments and tips at #HowIRecalibrate and be sure to tag @recalibratestudio
Learn more about author Jennifer Valenza in her bio.