Try Different Positions for Sitting Meditation

Sitting meditation, also called expanding awareness meditation, lies at the heart of mindfulness meditation practice. The sitting position has been used for meditation for thousands of years and for good reason.

How do you normally sit? If you’re like most people, probably leaning against the back of a chair or sofa. While fine if you’re relaxing, this position doesn’t work so well with mindfulness meditation.

With sitting mindfulness meditation, you need to sit with a relatively straight back, not stiff or forced, but dignified, balanced and upright. This posture is an external representation of the kind of inner attitudes that you’re aiming to adopt — open and awake to your moment-to-moment experience.

You can do sitting meditation on a chair or seated on the floor.

1

Sit on a chair.

Follow these tips so that it’s easy to be upright and balanced. If you find the instructions too prescriptive, just sit naturally upright. The inner attitudes of mindfulness are more important than your posture.

Find a chair that’s the right height for you. When you sit, your knees should be lower than your hips by a few inches. Your feet should be flat on the ground or rest on a small stool.

Tilt your chair slightly forwards. Place a few magazines under the back legs. By tilting the chair forwards, your pelvis is rotated in such a way that your back adopts an upright posture quite naturally. Try it out!

Place your hands wherever feels comfortable for you. You could place a cushion on your lap and rest your hands there. Avoid placing your hands too far forwards as they drag your shoulders down.

Allow your head to balance on your neck and shoulders. Imagine your head is gently floating upwards, straightening your spine.

Tilt your body forwards and backwards, left and right to find a central balanced place. Then just be still at that point.

You’re ready to meditate!

2

Try the Burmese position on the floor.

The Burmese position is a fairly comfortable cross-legged sitting position. Place a mat or a soft blanket on the floor. On top of that, place a firm meditation cushion or several soft cushions on top of each other.

Have a stretch (especially your legs and back) to prepare yourself to sit.

Sit cross-legged on the cushion. Allow the sides of your knees to touch the ground. If your knees don’t touch the ground, use more cushions to support your knees or try one of the other positions suggested.

Allow the heel of your left foot to be close to or gently touch the inside thigh of your right leg. Allow the right leg to be in front of the left leg, with the heel pointing towards your lower left leg. If your legs aren’t that supple, adjust as necessary, always ensuring that you’re as comfortable as possible.

Invite your back to be quite straight but relaxed too. Gently rock back and forth to find the point where your head is balanced on your neck and shoulders. Tuck your chin in slightly, so the back of your neck isn’t straining.

3

Try the kneeling position.

If you choose to try the kneeling position, you need a meditation kneeling stool. You can purchase one online.

Stretch your legs to prepare to sit.

Kneel on a carpet, blanket or mat on the floor.

Raise your bottom up and place the kneeling stool between your lower legs and bottom.

Gently sit back down on the kneeling stool. Ensure that you’re in a position that feels balanced and stable for you.

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