A Psychologist On The Reason You Get Antsy While Meditating

“People often say: ‘Well, I don’t like to meditate because it makes me nervous,’ or ‘I don’t like to be still because it makes me nervous.’ No, what you’re discovering is how nervous you are, how jittery you are.” Meaning, the practice itself isn’t what’s making you feel antsy—you were already feeling jittery to begin with, and meditation is propelling those feelings up to the surface.

Plus, according to Parker, feeling like you can’t sit still is a likely sign you need that meditation practice. As she tells us, releasing stress and tension oftentimes isn’t too pretty. Sure, you may feel a sense of relief afterward (sometimes a very tangible physical release, as she explains here). But while you’re actually in the throes of that inner work? It’s uncomfortable—and that’s a good sign! It means you’re finally freeing your body from all those negative emotions. “The work is to learn to tolerate the discomfort of healing,” she notes. Only then will you be able to truly relax. 

So, if meditation seemingly makes you more anxious, she recommends embracing that discomfort. Sit still with it, even if it’s for a mere five minutes: “If five minutes is all you can tolerate, that’s fine,” she says. “Then you can extend the time. If you can sit in stillness long enough, you will begin to increase your tolerance for stillness until you can reach a point of coming into deep relaxation.” 

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