6 ways to be mindful when you hate sitting still
We know that mindfulness is an incredibly useful tool to calm the mind, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve concentration. Studies at Harvard University have shown that regular mindfulness meditation activates areas of the brain involved in emotional regulation, as well as stimulating the brain’s relaxation response. Organisations like Smiling Mind are showing the incredibly effect that daily mindfulness can have of student health and wellbeing.
But what if you are someone who just cannot sit still and meditate? I frequently get this comment when working with clients who are starting the practice of meditation. Meditation can be really difficult! So rather than giving up, there are more active ways to be mindful, which may help you get started.
Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention, on purpose, to the present moment without judgement.
This is a great one for those with itchy feet. Pop on your sneakers and go for a walk, paying attention to your breath, sounds, sights, and all sensations. Really try to focus on bring in the present. When you notice your mind wandering to the chore list or work tasks, just gently bring it back to how you feel walking.
Take this up a notch; slow waaaaay down and notice how it feels to bring each foot down. Which part of the foot do you notice first? Last? What does the ground feel like? How does it feel to propel slowly forward? (tip: If you are self conscious about how you look being in slow motion in public, do this in your backyard!)
How often do we rush through showers as a chore to get to the next step in our day? The next time you shower, focus on each of the 5 senses while you do it. This is such a sensory experience with multiple sounds, smells, and feelings. Bonus of this activity? A shower will never seem so relaxing as when you are truly being mindful and taking in the experience.
Yes, chores are pretty hard to make interesting. But use them as a chance to practice your mindfulness skills while still ticking something off your to-do list. If you hate sitting still, try to bring a mindful attitude to doing the dishes, the laundry, the dusting. Pay attention to how each activity feels while completing it. When you notice your mind wandering (as it will inevitably do), just bring your attention back to the present activity.
Adult colouring is all the rage and for good reason! It combines creativity, relaxation, no-tech time, and you guessed it; mindfulness. Grab a colouring book or blank paper if you’re brave and start colouring. Stare at the page and just start to focus on your breath. Notice how the sensation of breathing feels; where it starts and where it stops; how fast or slow it is. See if you can smell the pencils, pay attention to the scratching of the pens, and focus on the brilliant colour and emerging pattern in front of you.
Activities like yoga, pilates, and tai chi are all wonderful ways of being mindful while exercising, and learning to tune in to different parts of the body. Try this with a class or at-home video, or even just take 15 minutes to stretch out different muscle groups. When stretching, focus on the breath and how the body feels. Let go of any judgemental thoughts and just be in the moment.
As you may have guessed, mindfulness of activity is a lot about the five senses. And sound is incredibly powerful. As something different, put on a favourite song and REALLY listen to it. Try to pay so much attention that you notice little sounds you may be previously missed. Notice the different levels of vocals, instruments, beats. Play it again and see if it has changed at all.
Let me finish with this. If you are someone who can’t sit still with their own thoughts and feelings for 10 minutes a day, you probably really do need more mindfulness in your life. Use these more active mindful exercises to ease you in and when you feel comfortable, start working in some sitting meditations. Even 5 minutes can have great benefits!
Keep track of your Mindfulness experiences with your free Mindfulness Journal below!