The most important principle with Meditation Posture is to sit in such a way that your body is relaxed and comfortable whilst your mind is alert and aware.
You don’t have to sit cross-legged to be both relaxed and aware. You could sit on a chair, or kneel on a cushion or a stool. The important thing is to find the posture that is right for you and to be comfortable. Listen to your body. Discomfort will distract you from your meditation.
Key Elements of Meditation Posture
However you decide to sit, there are some key elements that will allow you to be both relaxed and aware.
1.Your spine should be upright with a natural curve. You shouldn’t be slumped nor should there be an exaggerated curve in the lower spine.
2.Your spine should be relaxed.
3.Your shoulders should be relaxed and slightly rolled down.
4.Your hands should be supported, perhaps in your lap or on a cushion or blanket, so that your arms are relaxed.
5.Your head should be balanced evenly with your chin slightly tucked in. The back of your neck should be relaxed, long and open.
6.Your face should be relaxed with your forehead smooth, your eyes soft, your jaw relaxed, and your tongue relaxed and just touching the back of your teeth.
Meditating in a Chair
You can meditate perfectly well in an ordinary dining room or office chair. The only thing you have to do is to raise the back legs of the chair by two or three centimetres, so that you don’t end up leaning back against the chair. You can rest your hands on your thighs, palm down. Have your feet flat on the floor so that you are firmly grounded. If your feet aren’t flat on the floor then use a cushion or phone book to rest your feet on.
Kneeling on a Cushion or Stool
If you’re using cushions they need to be really firm. Most people who kneel astride cushions need two or three to sit on. The important thing is to get the right height.
If you have too few cushions and you sit too low, then you’ll end up slumping forward.
If you have too many cushions then you’ll have too much of a curve in the lower back.
When your back is comfortably upright, without you having to use any effort to keep it that way, then you’ve got the height about right.
Your hands should be supported in front of you, using either a cushion or a blanket, or maybe a sweater tied around your waist.
Remember you don’t have to sit cross-legged. Only sit cross-legged if you have sufficient flexibility and you feel comfortable in this position. If you sit regularly using this position then it’s best to alternate which foot is in front.
It’s very important to have both knees on the ground, to give you adequate support. If you can’t get both knees on the floor then use a thin cushion or a folded scarf under your knee to keep it stable. If your hands don’t rest naturally in your lap, then use a cushion or blanket to support them.
Lotus and Half-Lotus
These postures are only suitable for those who are very flexible. If you feel any pain in the knees or in the ankles, or the posture becomes uncomfortable, then stop and try one of the earlier postures.
In the full lotus the feet rest on the opposite thighs with the soles of the feet pointing upwards. In the half-lotus one foot is on the opposite thigh with the sole of the foot pointing upwards, while the other foot rests on the floor.
Tuning in to Mindfulness Through Your Body
A good way into meditation is to spend some time becoming aware of your body.
Once you have established your meditation posture, take your awareness through the different parts of your body and experience whatever sensations you find there.
Feel the skin on your face and the different physical sensations there. Then become aware of the sensations around the eyes, then the lips, then take your attention to the forehead and then to the scalp. As you do this you may find other parts of the body relaxing.
Next move down the back of your neck to your shoulders, upper arms, lower arms, wrists, palms, fingers and thumbs. Then take your attention closely down through the rest of your body – first your chest and abdomen, then round to the back and down the spine, then the hips, buttocks, thighs, knees, lower legs, ankles, feet and toes, experiencing the sensations right down to the soles of your feet.
When you’ve done this then reverse direction and work your way back up the body, finishing with the head and face.
Getting in touch with your body allows you to get in touch with your feelings and with your emotions. You become aware of how you really are.