The first thing to learn in meditation is how to sit effectively. There are two important principles that you need to bear in mind in setting up a suitable posture for meditation.
- your posture has to allow you to relax and be comfortable.
- your posture has to allow you to remain alert and aware
Relationship of Body and Mind
From the moment of conception until the moment of death, mind and body are inextricably linked. Were it possible to separate them (it isn't), one could say that they constantly affect each other. Most people understand that mind affects body, as they see examples of this all day long. The moment people come into a room, their posture tells us whether they are feeling good, depressed, self-confident, afraid, tense and so forth - long before they say a word. But few people realise just how much body and breath can be used to help the mind. As meditation is concerned
with taming and awakening the mind, posture can be mobilised to great use.
Although one can think, meditate, visualise, pray or do mental exercises in any position, there are few in which one can remain healthily and comfortably for the time it takes to accomplish most meditations. The few that permit this (lying flat etc) often tend make one sleepy as the meditation brings relaxation. This is not what meditation is for. In a good meditation posture, relaxation becomes the basis for the crystal clarity of awakened awareness, not a sleepy haze.
So the ideal posture is one in which you are completely still and relaxed, yet alert, for as long as you wish. Since the mind needs to be alert, it is best if the body is upright. We are looking for a position in which the body can function with a minimum expenditure of energy, in which the heart can be at its quietest, and the lungs unrestricted, so that the intake and outflow of air is correspondingly quiet and natural.
Good posture is not only for meditation. It can be used whenever you are sitting or standing. It will encourage a quieter more relaxed state of mind, simply by become aware of your posture. With practice good posture will bring greater mental alertness, vitality and peacefulness.
Basics of Posture
Sit in a comfortable position using a chair, meditation stool or cushion. Shut your eyes to limit external distractions.
The hands should be comfortable and supported allowing the arms and shoulders to relax. You can place the right hand in the left hand, palms upwards, with the tips of the thumbs slightly raised and gently touching This symbolises the union of method and wisdom.
The back is straight but not tense. This helps us to develop and maintain a clear mind, and it allows the subtle energy to flow freely.
The lips and teeth are held as usual, but the tongue touches against the back of the upper teeth. This completes the energy circuit within the body while preventing excessive salivation and stopping the mouth from becoming too dry.
The head is tipped a little forward with the chin slightly tucked in so that the eyes are cast down. This extends the neck and helps prevent mental excitement.
The eyes can be open or closed. If they are open we may become distracted and if they are closed we may become sleepy. A compromise would be for them to remain half open and gaze down along the line of the nose.
The shoulders are level and the elbows are held slightly away from the sides to let air circulate.
If you use a chair to meditate have only the very base of my spine touching the back of the chair. It's best not to lean back in the chair. Rest your hands on your thighs, comfortably. Have your feet flat on the floor, and the thighs
level with the floor. If your legs are very long or very short compared to the chair, then this might not be possible. If your feet don't reach the floor, then you can use a cushion to rest your feet on. If your legs are too long, then
ideally you should find another chair.
If, for whatever reason, you need to meditate in a comfortable armchair, try to pack cushions behind the back so that you don't lean backwards.
1. Your spine should be upright, following its natural tendency to be slightly hollowed.
You should neither be slumped nor have an xaggerated hollow in your lower spine.
2. Your spine should be relaxed.
3. Your shoulders should be relaxed, and slightly rolled back and down.
4. Your hands should be supported, either resting on a cushion or on your lap, so that your arms and shoulders 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 brow smooth, your eyes relaxed, your jaw relaxed, and your tongue relaxed and just touching the back of your teeth.
1. If the head falls forward, neck muscles are strained with the weight (5-7kg)
2. Back of neck nerve complex is constricted with hard muscle, therefore poor blood and
oxygen supply to the head, leading to headache, migraine, blood pressure, dizziness,
chronic fatigue, poor mental performance affected eyes, ears and sinuses.
3. Neck angle constricts the throat, therefore poor breathing and voice production.
4. Caused spinal disturbance hollowing of lumbar spine, weakening and therefore backache
and spinal curvature.
5. Compressed chest causes shallow breathing, therefore poor oxygen supply and poor heart
6. Internal organs crushed downwards by the thoracic structure pressing inwards, therefore protruding abdomen.