“Meditation allows us to directly participate in our lives instead of living life as an afterthought.” ~Stephen Levine
In the last couple of posts we presented some thoughts on things to consider prior to beginning meditation.
Today we will discuss finding a comfortable position for meditation. We’d appreciate hearing comments and suggestions from others. There are many paths!
It is essential for successful meditation that you find a comfortable position that you can maintain throughout the meditation period. It shouldn’t be so comfortable that you’re liable to fall asleep, or so uncomfortable or painful that you can’t relax and pay attention to something else other than the pain or how uncomfortable you are. You should adopt a position that you can sustain comfortably and pain free for the entire duration of your practice. Keep in mind that being a little uncomfortable at the beginning may be OK as you’ll adapt to it and it will get more comfortable as you continue practice. But, don’t endure pain. Back off if it hurts.
Sitting cross legged on a cushion on the floor or a meditation pad (lotus or half-lotus position) can be challenging for many. If you can do it comfortably then this is the position that you should use as it is a highly recommended position for meditation. See http://horakuan.net/zazen/ for descriptions of the various positions. Here is a link to an excellent video entitled “How to Sit For Meditation – Meditation Postures” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GlVpirusD0M
But we recommend that you don’t adopt this position initially if it is not comfortable. You can work on it later. But, many people will either not try meditation or stop after only a few sessions because they find this lotus or half-lotus position too challenging or painful. It is more important to meditate comfortably than to adopt an uncomfortable position even one that is highly desirable and recommended.
Another alternative is a kneeling posture. This is the posture that I personally prefer. It is comfortable for me and it leaves my spine straight and my breathing unrestricted. But, everyone has to find the correct on for their body and flexibility. Here is a link to an excellent video entitled “Using a Meditation Bench” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGzE6BQb1xY. Often people find a kneeling posture difficult to maintain and painful to the knees. It, like all meditation postures requires practice. If it’s not comfortable to you initially, then don’t use it. You can experiment with it later.
For initial practice we like to recommend sitting in a chair. This should not be considered as the position that you stay with forever. Rather, it is a simple place to start. Here is a link to an excellent video entitled “Meditation for Beginners -Sitting on a Chair” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgO6erMHHS0
Regardless find a position in which your spine is straight and the head sitting evenly on top of the spine. It should be like there’s a string hung from the ceiling that goes through the top of your head and without bend continues down the spine to the pelvis. The fewer restrictions there are on your breathing the better. So, try to find a position where the back behind your lungs is free and unrestricted. Better yet are positions where there is nothing touching the back. Try to adopt a position with the neck straight above the spine with the chin tucked in slightly to minimize the strain on the neck. But, most importantly, find a position that you can stay in comfortably for the duration of your meditation session.