meditation practices for those who can’t sit still

peggy markel

peggy markel

Our  recent Facebook post about alternative ways to meditate got a lot of hits.  Its single line —’Can’t sit still when you meditate?: try turning everyday actions into a practice’ — told us that there are A LOT of people who have trouble sitting and meditating. So we thought we’d elaborate.

The solution is an ancient one: turn everyday actions, like washing dishes, folding laundry, walking,  into a meditation. Try to be as present and mindul as you can, doing just that one action, enjoying it, seeing every aspect of it, being as much as possible in the present moment. If your mind wanders, simply bring it back to the task at hand, as many times as necessary.

Our friend Peggy Markel’s lovely post about about a Moroccan woman sweeping describes it perfectly (here’s a bit, though we recommend reading the whole thing) :

The sound of the palm leaf broom on the dry ground is like a constant breeze though the trees. It’s soft and comforting. The edges and pathways of the property are pristine. She’s at home there…

Even at a distance, her presence is perceptible. It stops the mind. Like the song of a small bird, the sound of water flowing, fruit falling from a branch….

The ancient art of sweeping, sweeps the mind clean like a perfect brush stroke practiced 10, 000 times, each time more effortless and free. She sweeps from her heart, not her head, spreading love along the pathways, caressing the untouched and unseen areas of the parched earth, appearing, disappearing, creating a nurturing container for trees to grow, vegetables to be weeded, tears and leaves to fall, love to flourish.

Here are some other simple insta-meditations we recommend:

windowsill still-lives: mindfulness practice in action

mister rogers’ 10-second meditation

what happens if you start your day with a poem?

slowing down and counting blessings

anne herbert’s wise + teeny meditations

7 Responses to meditation practices for those who can’t sit still

  1. Mandy 08.08.2013 at 7:28am #

    Heres’ a one minute meditation with Ayurvedic breaking from Dr. John Douillard: http://lifespa.com/3-tips-for-happy-stress-free-holidays/#.UgOAWuAiXgo

    Works for me!

  2. jody 08.08.2013 at 8:20am #

    thanks Mandy (and Sally) this one minute segment is very cool and sooooooo useful

  3. sillygirl 08.08.2013 at 10:00am #

    My walk each day is a meditation walk. I used to power walk – started hating it. Then I read a book about walking meditation and tried it – still doing it after 20+ years and not once have I hated it. I found I had to walk slowly – I say to be able to see the four-leaf clovers. And keeping those mind-monkeys at bay is a constant switch to turn off! I see there, hear there, feel there, smell there, be there. I think of my mind as a big switchboard – like an airline pilot has – and turn off all the switches except breathing and walking. I do the same route because it is simpler and still every day is different and I can notice the little things that change and really see them. I read that it helps when my mind starts jumping in to say aloud “Thinking” and it clears my mind and brings me back to the moment. This all makes it easier to go to that same place when I wash dishes or do other simple chores. I think of this as therapy and it is lots cheaper!

  4. David 08.08.2013 at 12:02pm #

    Simple, excellent awareness-inducing practices that don’t require special clothing, postures or payment of monthly dues:

    — brush your teeth with your left hand. (Lefties with the right.)

    — button your shirt bottom to top instead of the usual way.

    — as you walk down the street, have something become aware of the existence of your body. No judgements, no descriptions, no changing anything – just have something impartially notice the simple fact of your existence. Like you were watching yourself through a telescope from another planet.

  5. Sally 08.08.2013 at 3:08pm #

    Wow. I love hearing about your shift from power walking, which you hated, to walking meditation. SO interesting. A reminder that good health is SO much about how we think about things and the state we are in, rather than just bullying ourselves to exercise fast. Thanks!

  6. Jeff 08.13.2013 at 5:54pm #

    Ultimately meditation is not about a specific form you adopt but rather the way you practice the directing of attention. You can do this with anything you do.

  7. Sally 08.13.2013 at 6:15pm #

    Perfect. You really got to the essence of it. ‘You can do it with anything you do’. Thank you.

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