How to meditate (even if you can’t sit still)

Reading Time: 4 minutesMeditation has become very popular in recent years and is helping many people around the globe. It can offer significant benefits, from disease and pain management to better sleep, improved control of emotions and even stress relief. It can sound like a wonder drug, but it might also sound like an impossible task when you can’t – or don’t have the opportunity to – sit still.

Some people make it sound so easy, to just sit down and meditate and clear out the mind of all of your thoughts, but in reality this can take some time to learn. It is like training your muscles in the gym. It takes practice, patience and dedication, which most of us are not born with…

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My first meditation

I still remember when I first learnt to meditate. It was in a meditation group in Copenhagen, Denmark. I was 19 years old and I couldn’t sit still. I had a million thoughts going through my brain – I was worried what the other people might think about me and kept thinking that they were so much better at meditating than me, they were older and more experienced… I just couldn’t relax. Needless to say, this didn’t help my meditation progress.

Fortunately, I was also stubborn, so I kept going to the weekly meditation group. Sometimes I would fall asleep, sometimes my body would ache, sometimes I would think about my plans for the following day, but one night something happened during the meditation practice and I noticed this blissful-like feeling all over my body. That evening, I didn’t want to come out of my meditative state when the teacher called us back to reality. That’s when I realized that I had been meditating effectively and that meditation was actually pretty amazing.

I have meditated for 12 years now and am acutely aware of the power of meditation. I find it clears my mind and makes me more present in the now. It balances out the inevitable stress in my everyday life and gives me better coping skills when something unexpected comes up. This experience made me believe that you should practise what you are not good at, instead of always doing what you know. So if you want to start your meditation journey, here are my pointers for getting started:

How do I meditate?
  • First of all, forget about sitting crossed-legged or in lotus positions unless you are an experienced yogi or hyper mobile. There are many meditation traditions that tell you that you must sit in a certain way to experience enlightenment and the benefits of meditation, but I don’t agree with this. It’s perfectly OK to sit on a normal chair with your feet on the ground in an upright position. But do try and sit upright, as this ensures the chi (the life-giving energy that unites body, mind and spirit) in your body to flow freely. It’s quite important to have a balanced spine with no blockages. If you’re out of alignment in your spine, your chi will be disrupted and you’ll feel discomfort during meditation. Have your spine checked by a chiropractor and make yourself ready for meditation.
  • Try to avoid supporting your back with pillows, because in my experience, you’ll find yourself snoring after five minutes if it’s too comfortable. But it’s very important not to be in pain either, as this will disrupt your meditation experience.
  • In the beginning it can be a little hard to start meditating in silence. I suggest you start out with some relaxing meditation music (you can find a great deal on YouTube) or even listen to a guided meditation.
  • Start with 15-20 minutes and gradually increase your meditation time to whatever suits your life and schedule.
  • Try meditating in a group. It’s easier to keep up the energy in a group because everyone is helping each other. It can be like pushing a car up a hill – this is very hard to do alone, but easier in a group.
  • Close your eyes and take some deep breaths to connect with your body. Feel your body; is there any tension or discomfort? Notice what’s going on as you move your focus up and down your body, like a CAT scan done by yourself.
  • Focus on your breath, breathing in and out of your nose. Feel the sensation in your nostrils when the air enters and leaves again. Accept that there can be noise around you, but preferably meditate in a quiet environment without disturbances.
  • Be present in the moment. Commit to being right here, right now for the time you have agreed – it doesn’t matter if it’s 15 minutes or two hours. Turn your phone to silence mode, not vibration. Know that it’s OK to fall asleep, fall off the chair, be bored, have thoughts, worry about your grocery shopping, etc. It’s completely normal in the beginning and sometimes later on as well – we’re still human, after all.
  • When you have a thought, acknowledge that thought and let it go, let it drift away like clouds in the sky. If you keep thinking, “I must clear my mind and think of nothing,” guess what? You’ll have a stream of thoughts coming your way, so just relax and let them slowly float away.
  • Find a meditation place that suits you. I often travel to different places in order to meditate in nature. Nature has the ability to really ground you and fill up your energy deposits.
  • Just do it! Dr Kamilla Holst is a chiropractor and lifestyle coach.
    To learn more, visit www.kamillaholst.com.

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Benefits of meditation

  • Better sleep
  • Sharper descision-making
  • Improved concentration
  • Greater productivity
  • More control of emotions
  • Stress relief
  • Connection with yourself
  • Improved ability to be present in the moment
  • Takes us beyond our worries, fears and judgements
  • Better knowledge of our inner-self
  • Increased production of anti-ageing hormone DHEA
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