Practical Tips on Meditation For People Who Can’t Sit Still

How do you start with meditation when you can’t sit still for two minutes? Or find it hard to ’empty’ your mind? Here I cover some practical tips on meditation from a practitioner of 20-years, Giovanni Dienstmann, a meditation teacher and author of “Practical Meditation” to help you with intensifying your focus.

woman trying to meditate, needs practical tips on meditation for people who can't sit still

Meditation has so many health and well-being benefits. In a nutshell, meditation helps you to naturally feel better, stress less and tune in to your inner self.

The below illustration highlights reasons for a daily practice of meditation.

A host of benefits from sitting still in meditation each day

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Why can’t I relax during meditation?

Sitting still and relaxing during meditation takes practice at first. Find a special, quiet spot where you feel safe to reach a state of mind to practise meditating. Start small, say two-five minutes and gradually increase this by a minute each day. In these minutes, focus on one object or concept, e.g., your breathing, an image in your mind’s eye or concentrating on metaphors, as I cover in this article.

How to sit still during meditation

There are a few practical tips that I’ll cover here. They include using metaphors, mini-meditations and more.

Using metaphors to help you sit still during meditation

Metaphors can help you sit still and concentrate during meditation. This involves using visual ideas playing out in your mind so that you enter a mental state of flow (AKA alpha state) — this is where your awareness of surroundings and time vanishes. It’s a deep state of relaxation, which I cover in my article on what the alpha state feels like.

In Practical Meditation, Dienstmann offers 10 metaphors to help you sit still and intensify your focus.

Here are three examples of metaphors to help you with the art of concentration:

  • Think of your mind as an arrow and it is flying towards a target.
  • Visual yourself placing a fence around your mind so that you can focus on one object, such as your breath.
  • Visual your hair being on fire and the object of your meditation is water.

Mini meditations that help you concentrate

How to sit still during meditation?

You can use your imagination with affirmations and body awareness to help you concentrate and sit still. This involves mini-meditations, which are about 5 minutes in duration.

The following is one of five of these to help you intensify your focus, from Practical Meditation.

Grounded as a mountain

Get comfortable sitting in a stable position on the floor, cushion, or seat, and consider yourself grounded to this base. Then imagine yourself as a mountain. Start with your right leg, affirming over and over to yourself “my leg is as heavy as a mountain”. Continue this concept with each body part.

When you finish a session like this, take some time to reflect on how you feel. Maybe take notes so you can refer back and track your progress.

Prime your mind – associations and anchors

If you find yourself asking why can’t I relax during meditation, it’s a good idea to prime your mind. This means getting a mindset that prepares you to relax.

One common approach is to use a breathing technique to relax.

There are a few ways and Dienstmann in Practical Meditation offers the ideas of associations and anchors.

Use an anchor to ready yourself to sit still

An anchor is a habit to initiate another habit, basically. It’s something that triggers in your mind another habit to follow. It’s like your morning rituals in getting ready for work where you often automatically do one thing after another without thinking because you are in a habit of doing it that way.

So for getting ready to sit still for meditation you can use an anchor that is a daily habit of yours. For example, if you have a morning shower then that’s a good anchor. A shower is relaxing to start with. And early morning is a good time to practise meditation as you haven’t yet accumulated all the worries of the day that clutter your mind.

Use an association to help you relax

In a way, an anchor is an association. However, associations aren’t necessarily ‘anchors’ as I’ve described above.

An example of an association to get you into the right mindset is a location set up especially for meditation and that you routinely use. It could be a designated corner of your room, an area outside or any place that you associate with quietness, calm and feeling safe.

Another might be relaxing music that you associate with feeling safe and calm. It could be the burning of incense that you associate with relaxation.

These are just some examples on how associations can help prime your mind for relaxation.


Practical tips on meditation to strengthen your journey

Here are some tips to start you on the path to meditating for self care.

Relaxation and stillness might be uncomfortable at first.

Giovanni Dienstmann in Practical Mediation 2018

You will strengthen your meditation practice with the following tips.

From Giovanni Dienstmann, Author of Practical Meditation

(Reproduced with permission)

So here are some tips that I’d like to share, as they relate to creating a strong meditation practice.

  1. Start small. It’s better to start really small, so there is absolutely no excuse for you to skip your practice. For beginners, I usually recommend start with 5 minutes a day, and increase 1 minute per week. This may sound too gradual, but at the end of one year, you’ll be practicing 1h!
  2. Recommit. At the end of every session, commit to showing up for your practice the following day.
  3. Never zero. This means that every day you will practice, even if only 5 minutes. Make it a non-negotiable part of your life.
  4. No expectations. Nothing kills motivation quicker than unmet expectations. Most of the benefits of meditation come only after months or years of daily practice. So letting go of expectations sounds like a smart strategy to me.
  5. Be prepared. Sometimes you will feel tired, busy, or “not in the mood”. Be mentally prepared to meet those challenges with the “never zero” idea, and do the practice no matter what.
  6. Joyful attitude. Meditation is not a task, but a precious moment to go deep inside yourself. Enjoy the practice, and it will be easy to keep it up.

About Giovanni Dienstmann

Giovanni Dienstmann (Author of Practical Meditation)

With over 9,000 hours of meditation behind him and having practised over 70 different techniques, Dienstmann offers genuine lived advice.

He is well versed on a wide variety of traditions in meditation having studied 200+ books around this and been formally initiated into four different meditation traditions.

He has also spent 10 weeks training in a Monastery in France and admits he almost became a monk twice in his life’s journey.

More practical tips on meditation

If you’d like more help in building a strong meditation habit, strengthening your concentration, and finding the ideal technique for you, I invite you to have a look at Dienstmann’s books and meditation courses.

Meditation online tutorials

As a meditation teacher, Giovanni Dienstmann brings, to the students of his online tutorials, enormous wisdom from over 20 years of practising meditation on a daily basis. You may like to check these out…

Practical Meditation Guide by Giovanni Dienstmann

A step by step guide by Giovanni Dienstmann

Giovanni Dienstmann’s Practical Mediation: a Simple Step-by-Step Guide will help you with ways to improve your concentration and how to bring the benefits of meditation into your life at any time at any place. Check out the reviews on Practical Meditation: A Simple Step-by-Step Guide at Amazon — See details

In Australia? You can get this book through Booktopia.


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