Ways to Meditate When You Can't Sit Still

Updated on November 9, 2017
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Sage has been a Witch for 25 years. As a teacher and writer, she enjoys writing informative articles to teach others the Craft of the Wise.

Trouble Meditating?

There are just some people who can't sit still long enough to meditate. Just trying to sit still and find a calm center fills them with stress and anxiety, and they find themselves fidgeting and fussing until they just can't take it anymore. The longer they try to sit still, the further from a meditative state they get.

If this is you, I bet being constantly bombarded with advice to meditate can be frustrating. Usually, the only answer people have for you when you admit you can't get the hang of it is to "try harder." I wouldn't be surprised if you want to say, "Shut up with the meditations already!"

Guess what—you don't have to sit still to meditate. It's possible to get into a meditative state of mind when your body is in motion as well. A moving meditation can give you all the benefits that anyone can reap by sitting in the lotus position for a half hour every day.

Move While Meditating

move while meditating
move while meditating | Source

Tell Us About It:

Has your inability to sit still impeded your ability to meditate?

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Training Your Mind


Understanding the Meditative State of Mind

There are four states of consciousness: Beta, Alpha, Theta and Delta. The Beta state is when you're fully awake and alert. The Theta state is for sleeping, dreaming, and deep trances. The Delta state is deep, usually dreamless sleep or comatose.

The Alpha state is the one you really need to understand. You're in Alpha when you're daydreaming, when you're "out of it" or "zoning out" on a boring task, when you're watching television, or in a light sleep. You're also in Alpha when you're completely engrossed in something—a video game, a game of tennis, a good book, playing an instrument, making a craft, etc.. You know you're 100% living in the moment when you don't notice time and your mind is fixated on the task.

If you've ever had doubts as to whether you can achieve a state of mind for meditation, realize that you already do. That state is Alpha, and it's a state you pass in and out of all day long. It's a natural state of being.

As you can see, you don't need to sit still like a statue with your eyes closed to achieve Alpha, a meditative state. You can also achieve it when in motion.

Ways to Meditate in Motion

  • doing a daily yoga routine
  • tai chi
  • practicing karate katas
  • dancing
  • walking
  • jogging
  • art—painting, drawing, etc.
  • playing an instrument
  • playing video games (ideally not-too-difficult puzzle games on 'zen mode')
  • crafts: knitting, crocheting, paper folding, weaving, anything rhythmic
  • mundane chores: washing dishes, folding laundry, scrubbing floors, washing windows, etc.
  • exercise: stationary bike, weightlifting, elliptical machine, etc.
  • step climbing
  • practicing a sport
  • playing a game

Walking Meditation


How to Choose Your Activity

  • It should be something that engages you, something to draw your focus into the moment
  • It should be something that holds your focus for an extended period of time; 15 to 30 minutes per day is ideal
  • It should be something that's continuous, fluid, methodical, repetitive, etc., so the movements become automatic and it's almost hypnotic
  • It should be something you can keep on hand or have access to every day

For example, jamming on your guitar for 20 minutes each day is a good way to meditate if you let yourself just go with the flow. Learning a song where you have to keep looking at the sheet music, where you're making mistakes, or you have to check your technique constantly, breaks focus too much to be good for a meditation.

Walking at a steady pace through the park, putting your attention on your breath, noticing the way the sun feels on your skin, experiencing the way the breeze tousles your hair, examining the trees, the leaves, the clouds—that is a mindful moment. Walking while waving to neighbors, thinking about what to make for dinner, or how you're going to pay a bill, stopping and going through traffic, cursing the heat, etc., is not very conducive to meditation.

It's all about the state of mind you're able to achieve—one of mindfulness, of living in the moment, of relaxed awareness—that turns an activity from just something to do into a meditation session.

What About You?

Have you been meditating more than you realized?

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I Bet You Meditate More Than You Think

Think back now to all those mindful moments—I bet you have been meditating all along and you didn't even know it. Most likely, the only difference now will be that you're aware of it, and you do certain activities with the deliberate decision to meditate in mind. You might even schedule them regularly from now on.

Another pleasant thing to note is that motion meditations, or moving meditations, can enhance your rituals or magical practices. Magic and spirituality are also activities that we want to do in the Alpha state. People who are not used to meditating in motion can have more difficulty achieving Alpha without stopping and sitting still for a little while. You'll be able to slip right into it when you're gathering your stuff or setting up the altar.

So don't give up hope just because you're fidgety. It doesn't mean you can't meditate; you just have to learn to do it in new ways that are probably contrary to what you've already been told. As you become more adept at meditation while moving, you'll find yourself able to achieve that state of mind more easily even when you finally do want to try to sit still.

Is This You?


Tai Chi for Beginners:

© 2014 Mackenzie Sage Wright


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    • profile image

      Wizard 6 weeks ago

      Thanks for such a great article. But I need a help. Can I meditate while I am cycling? Because I cycle for about 1 & 1\2 hour regularly. Thanks!

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 2 months ago

      Hope this sheds a new light on it Beth, you're going to be fine, keep at it!

    • profile image

      Beth 2 months ago

      This was really enlightening...I was feeling like an abject failure when it comes to meditation! Thank you so much!

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 6 months ago

      I remember those days, with the little ones underfoot, and you forget how it feels to go to the bathroom without being interrupted, lol. Totally understand your challenges. Thank you!

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      Mystiedb3 6 months ago

      i cant thank you enough,i am new but ive been drawn to the craft since i could talk, ive been studying alot but never can meditate cause i have kids and im never alone. thank you, i have leaned so much from you!!!

    • profile image

      Gmr66 8 months ago

      I've been listening how to relax when meditating and I can get my body to relax and feel heavy but every time I try to see anything it seems I keep falling asleep do you have any tips on not falling asleep and why do I keep doing that.

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 3 years ago

      Your welcome Harmony, I'm glad you're getting the hang of it. Just keep practicing!

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      HarmonySMASH 3 years ago

      Thanks WiccanSage! I tried again (this time I looked up the words for Air I Am first) and I know I was doing it right. I get what you mean when you say a relaxed state of awareness, now! I feel content and I will definitely be meditating again, thank you WiccanSage!

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 3 years ago

      Hi Harmony, yes I understand what you mean. It's hard for people to identify a meditative state at first-- but if you know what it feels like to be 'zoned out' watching TV, or how it feels to be totally absorbed in something, you've been hovering around that meditative state before. It's a relaxed state of awareness, you can focus on a song, or a candle flame, or on a movement-- your thoughts don't shut off but you observe them more objectively. You don't let them carry you away. Your attention stays in the moment. Focusing on a chant like "air I am" can help you do that, and chants are generally better than songs with lyrics because songs with lyrics tend to bring a lot of different thoughts to mind. Instrumental music or simple chants (mantras) are better. Keep practicing and let me know if I can help you with any other questions!

    • profile image

      HarmonySMASH 3 years ago

      I'm not totally sure I understand meditation. I am trying but I can't tell if I am meditating or just sitting quietly. I tried the traditional sit with everything quiet that was a disaster. So I was going to try with music but I forgot the music but I had already turned on the timer so I just let a section of Air I Am play in my head but I couldn't remember any more so I just let my self develop new lyrics which is why I am writing this. I'm not sure if letting the lyrics develop the same as not being focused on the now or if it was like your example of a guitarist going with the flow.

      I hope this jumble is understandable.

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 3 years ago

      Hi MsDora- mundane housework offers the perfect opportunity for mindful meditation. Washing the dishes, folding the towels, vacuuming-- putting yourself in the moment and being aware of all the experiences, internal and external, is all you need to do to take advantage of the time. Thanks for commenting!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Good to know. I always that thought that there had to be a way especially for housewives and mothers to experience some calm. Thank you!

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 3 years ago

      Thank you manatita44; I appreciate your comments.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 3 years ago from london

      Some extremely useful advice and techniques for moving meditation here. Much peace.

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 3 years ago

      Thanks, beautiful mess (I love your hub name, by the way-- so poetic). I'm glad to know it's helped you look at meditation in a new light. A lot of people can't sit still, at least at first. I hope this helps you find a way to work it into your day. I appreciate the comments.

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      Alex Rose 3 years ago from Virginia

      This is very interesting! I'd like to meditate, but it's so hard to sit still. Now I'll be more aware while I'm doing other things, like art. I never really thought about it, but that's a great time to get some meditation done. Thanks for sharing.

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 3 years ago

      Thanks Catgypsy; I'm glad it could help you out! I know some people really struggle with the sitting still thing.

    • catgypsy profile image

      catgypsy 3 years ago from the South

      This is so interesting! I do have a hard time just sitting still without doing something, like being on the computer. I am thrilled to realize that I have had those moments you talk about, so I have been meditating sometimes without realizing it. Great Hub, WiccanSage!

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 3 years ago

      Thanks for stopping by Billy, I hope your wife finds it useful.

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I will pass this one to my wife. Bev is constant motion and needs to read this. Thank you for the helpful suggestions.

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