When you prepare to meditate, how do you position your body? It’s a common question faced by beginning mediators and is also one of the most common reasons why so many people give up on or never start this powerful practice.
Posture is important in meditation, however it is not the be-all and end-all of the practice and conflicting advice, along with the fear of having to adopt uncomfortable or even painful positions, can put people off meditation.
So, with this in mind, what is the right position?
The good news: the right position is the one that is best for you.
Many meditation guides and teachers will recommend a seated posture, most often cross-legged or a variant of the lotus pose in yoga. If you can comfortably maintain a lotus then I encourage you to go for it, but if – like me – the position is painful for you then by no means do you have to use it. My favourite position is cross-legged, my hips raised on my cushion (more about cushions next week), and my hands either resting on my lap on in Gyan mudra.
If you would like to sit but are unable to sit cross-legged or find it very uncomfortable, there are a number of other seated positions you can try.
Some people find kneeling very comfortable, and you can sit your buttocks right back on your heels or, to prevent your feet from going to sleep, you may like to part your knees slightly and rest your buttocks back on the floor. Many women find this position quite comfortable for meditation, so if traditional seated positions aren’t your thing, you may like to try this one out and see how you go.
If you don’t want to sit or kneel on the floor, or can’t, then sitting in a chair is a good way to go. Dr. Ian Gawler, the author of Peace of Mind and one of Australia’s foremost mindfulness and meditation experts, recommends that you use a chair with a high back that allows you to sit with your spine straight and your feet on the floor. If the chair has arms you can rest your arms here, but if it doesn’t you can place them on your knees or cup them in your lap.
Finally, if you do not want to sit or cannot do so, you can lie on your back. To ensure your body is supported, it is best to lie on a hard surface, rather than a bed or a couch, and use either a blanket or an exercise mat between you and the floor. Your legs should be slightly apart with your feet turned out, but if this puts too much strain on your ligaments then placing a bolster or cushion under the knees can help. You can either rest your arms by your side, fingers up and lightly curled, or some people like to place their hands gently on their belly, so they can feel the rise and fall of the diaphragm as they breathe.
It is perfectly normal to experiment with different positions as you begin to meditate, and you may even find that some positions work better for certain types of meditations than others. It is also normal to vary the position depending on your status at the time of the meditation: if you are ill or tired, you may decide to lie down to meditate, rather than sitting up. It all depends on what feels right for you and your body.
Article by J. Byers