🧘 How do I deal with restlessness when I’m practicing meditation?
As a first step, you might get curious about the mind state that is underlying the experience. When we experience restlessness in our meditation practice and we act on it (as opposed to observing it and allowing it to move through) then we are just fueling the energy of the restlessness and as a result, it grows. Instead of directing the attention outward or following your thoughts, see if you can feel into the sensations that are correlated with the mind state of restlessness and allow them to be known.
It can be helpful to open up the field of attention to include the awareness of the whole body sitting and also be aware of the sounds in the environment, so that there is a bigger container to hold the sensations related to restlessness (as these sensations tend to be somewhat uncomfortable). Imagine trying to hold a whale in a small aquarium. The movements of the whale would cause quite a lot of stirring in the small container; but if the whale were in the ocean, the movements of the whale would be much less noticeable. Similarly, if we expand our field of attention, uncomfortable feelings will be less dominant in our awareness.
You can work with restlessness in a variety of ways when doing concentration practice. You can use the note "restlessness" and keep coming back to the anchor, treating the sensation like any other kind of distraction or hindrance. It's also important to check the attitude in the mind — if you are feeling aversion to the restlessness, and trying to get rid of it, often this can strengthen or feed the restlessness. If you notice that you are pushing it away, turn your attention to the aversion you feel, instead of the restlessness. Become curious about how it feels to experience something unpleasant like this. There’s no need to get rid of it — we're just bringing our curiosity and mindfulness to this particular quality.