The fourth hindrance of restlessness and worry, encountered in meditation and in daily life, is nervous unsettled physical energy, characterized by quickly changing thoughts, anxiety, agitation and worry in the mind, and difficulty sitting still.
As with sleepiness, often when this hindrance appears, it may indicate that something unpleasant or difficult is arising that we might prefer not to encounter. And there is often a reaction of judgment, resistance or even condemning ourselves, which may increase the very restlessness we’re trying to push away.
Recognizing that this hindrance is present, it takes wisdom and courage to meet it with acceptance, mindfulness and investigation, understanding it is not who we are, knowing that like all other phenomena, it is a constellation of transitory conditions that are expressed in the up and down cycles of life and is bound to change.
My teacher invited me to be willing, with kindly resoluteness, to be the first meditator to actually die of restlessness—instructing me to see that through building acceptance of this energy, I could become free in the midst of it, not pushing it away or resisting. This acceptance can create ease, a powerful antidote to anxiety.
We can use sound or the sky as our object of meditation, that can lead to a greater sense of spaciousness, or build greater concentration through paying more focused attention to the breath, softening and collecting the mind. We might also investigate if there’s an attitude of striving to get somewhere. If so, we can remind ourselves that there is nowhere but here.