I had a great question come in through my latest virtual 21-Day Meditation Group, and it is such a common question that I wanted to share it in case it helps others feel more at ease when they start to feel fidgety during their meditation practice.
Question: When I start meditating my body really wants to stretch. Roll my neck, stretch my legs, etc. Is this me fighting meditating or that my body is finally relaxing? What do you think? I almost want to stretch and meditate at the same time.... but I doubt this is how I should do it.
Deidre: When we begin a meditation practice, it is very common to feel a lot of resistance come up. This is because in our day to day lives we don't often tune in with ourselves. If anything, we are trained to tune out and end up going through our days on autopilot.
One of the ways we resist is through our physical body. The body may want to stretch ~ it can get restless, similar to a restless leg syndrome feeling in the legs or other parts of the body, or other discomforts can happen physically. This can be a sign that we are wanting to escape sitting with ourselves.
First, you can spend a few minutes before starting your meditation practice stretching. Your body may just want to stretch. After stretching, sit down for your meditation practice and see if that helps. This is actually why in many practices, people will practice a little yoga before sitting down to meditate.
If you tried stretching before meditation and you still find yourself wanting to move, you can try two things. The first thing is to acknowledge the resistance, and even say to yourself: "This is resistance," and focus back on the breath or mantra. Keep acknowledging the resistance and keep bringing yourself back to the breath.
The impulse to move and stretch during meditation may be a way of protecting you from feeling emotions you have been avoiding for awhile, so the second thing you can try is to acknowledge the resistance and say to yourself: "I am safe in this moment, I am safe in my body." And then make the commitment stay in meditation and allow yourself to feel the emotions.
Remember, meditation is a practice. It doesn't have to be perfect. There will be days that it feels easier and days the it feels harder than others, and that is totally okay. The important thing is that you keep coming back to it and practicing. Meditation is a mental muscle that will strengthen with consistent practice!