13 Feb Everything You Need to Know About Meditation Posture
Getting the posture right for meditation is something everybody questions in the beginning. The reason why we do is to have the best meditation experience and because the body and the mind are interdependent.
Have you ever had a bad day just because something was hurting? It may seem impossible to push the pain aside, and focus on having a good time. This is because the mind will feed on or listen to everything the body throws at it, and vice-versa -the body can also listen to the mind to do things like 5 more push-ups than yesterday or something uncharacteristic of us humans, like skydiving.
Because the state of one affects the state of the other, a correct sitting posture is emphasized for meditation. The seven point posture, used by experienced meditators for centuries, is recommended as the best.
So what is the seven-point meditation posture? Let’s find out!
Legs- The best position for meditation is the vajra, or full-lotus position, where you sit cross-legged with each foot placed, sole upward, on the thigh of the opposite leg. This position is difficult for many people, but practising yoga or stretching exercises may loosen your legs enough to be able to sit this way for a short time, and continued practice will enable you to maintain it for increasingly longer periods. The vajra posture gives the best support to the body but is not essential, so don’t worry if you are unable to do it.
An alternative posture is the half-lotus where the left foot is on the floor under the right leg and the right foot on top of the left thigh. You can also sit in a simple cross-legged posture with both feet on the floor. Having a mat or carpet beneath you and a cushion or two under your buttocks will enable you to sit comfortably for longer periods, with a straight back, and avoid numbness in your legs and feet.If you are unable to sit in any of these cross-legged positions, you can meditate in a chair or on a low slanted bench. The important thing is to be comfortable.
Arms- Hold your hands loosely on your lap, about two inches below the navel, right hand on top of the left, palms upward,with the fingers aligned. The two hands should be slightly cupped so that the tip of the thumbs meet to form a triangle. Shoulders and arms should be relaxed. Your arms should not be pressed against your body but held a few inches away to allow circulation of air: this helps prevent sleepiness.
Back- Your back is most important. It should be straight, held relaxed and lightly upright, as if the vertebrae were a pile of coins. It might be difficult in the beginning, but in time it will become natural and you will notice the benefits, your energy will flow more freely, you won’t feel sluggish, and you will be able to sit comfortably in meditation for increasingly longer periods.
Eyes- New meditators often find it easier to concentrate with their eyes fully closed. This is quite acceptable. However, it is recommended that you leave your eyes slightly open to admit a little light, and direct your gaze downward. Closing your eyes may be an invitation to sluggishness, sleep or dream-like images, all of which hinder- meditation.
Jaw-Your jaw should be relaxed and teeth slightly apart, not clenched. Your mouth should also be relaxed, with the lips together lightly.
Tongue- The tip of your tongue should touch the palate just behind the upper teeth. This reduces the flow of saliva and thus the need to swallow, both of which could be distracting as your concentration increases and you sit in meditation for longer periods
Head- Your neck should be bent forward a little so that your gaze is directed naturally toward the floor in front of you. If your head is held too high you may have problems with mental wandering and agitation, and if dropped too low you could experience mental heaviness or sleepiness.
This seven-point posture is most conducive to clear, unobstructed contemplation. You might find it difficult in the beginning, but it is a good idea to check every point at the start of your session. And try to maintain the correct posture for a few minutes. With familiarity, it will feel more natural and you will begin to notice its benefits. The practice of yoga of other physical disciplines can be a great help in loosening tight muscles and joints, thus enabling you to sit more comfortably. However, if you are unable to adapt to sitting cross-legged you can make a compromise between perfect posture and a relaxed state. In other words, keep your body and mind happy, comfortable, and free of tension. The best posture is the one you’re comfortable with.
References have been taken from: “How To Meditate by Kathleen McDonald”
Nehita is a mindfulness expert who writes extensively on lifestyle management, wellness and ways to lead a healthier and a happier life. She is a part of Aware’s expert team on meditation. She is also an avid artist who spends most her time dribbling amazing stories through art.