My Mind Is Extremely Restless in Meditation. What to Do?

Question

Whenever I try to sit in meditation, my mind starts roaming. I am not able stop thoughts from coming. I need to open my eyes every 20 -25 minutes. I am not able to concentrate on my breathing or on the third eye.

—Riya, India

Answer

Dear Riya,

This is a common difficulty. The mind is like a monkey. Many things can contribute to that monkey-mind: rajasic food (spicy or agitating food); a restless lifestyle; being emotional; troubles in life; TV with all the quickly changing pictures; restless environments; fast music.

Swami Kriyananda teaches that also physical tensions in the body send constant restless impulses to the brain, making meditation difficult.

A good thing is to prepare yourself before meditation. Yoga postures were originally made to be a “staircase” to the heights of Raja Yoga (meditation). So try them, relaxing the body, and see if they help.

Another help devised by yogis are the various pranayamas, especially the cooling (calming) ones. Try them, breathing deeply and rhythmically, and see if they help.

Yogananda teaches that one may meditate with half-open eyes, Yogananda teaches. Try it and see if that improves the situation.

Train your body to sit still, straight, and relaxed. Body and mind are connected and the correct physical posture can therefore not be neglected.

Nayaswami Jyotish just wrote a blog in which he basically says that the reason for our restless thoughts lies usually in our heart: its desires, attachments, emotions. He suggests to first work on relaxing the heart area, even physically, and energetically, and then to focus on the spiritual eye and to the technique. Try that and see if it helps you.

It’s better to have a short meditation with quality, rather than longer ones without quality. So make your meditations short, but try your best to fill them with quality, as much as you can.

A good meditation requires high energy. Often we can’t control our thoughts because our energy level in meditation is too low. Try to enter the meditative stillness with a feeling of charged, high energy, and see if that changes things.

Let’s hope at least one of these suggestions works for you. Try them like a scientist in a laboratory, and observe the results.

All the best, may you find your solution,

Jayadev