There are so many styles of meditation today. You can choose from visualization, measured breathing, Tai Chi, Yoga, and mantras. It can be quite overwhelming for beginners to settle on a style that suits them best. The simplest advice is to try out a few different styles and techniques. Identify which gives you the most benefit. Within each style there are many different positions to choose from. You can sit, lie down, stand, walk, move, and even dance. Seated meditations are the most commonly practiced form of meditation. Most of us are familiar with the cross-legged seated posture. But there is a lot more to that position than we realize, and we’ll take a deeper look.
There is a lot of emphasis on the mental exercises and skills of meditation. We often neglect the importance of our physical posture and participation of our bodies. Our body’s comfort, alignment, and composure are essential to our meditative practice. A lapse in any of these areas affects our ability to focus, be mindful and control our breathing. Many meditations involve energy flow and chakras. To make sure there are no blockages, pay special attention to your body position.
There are a few variations to the seated meditation positioning. Make sure to choose the pose that you find the most comfortable and avoid putting a strain on your body. Many people ask if they can lie down while meditating. Of course! This position is extremely comfortable and the body is well supported. Breathing flows easily and you are less likely to experience fatigue. Some experts advise against it because you may land up falling asleep.
Some people prefer to sit on a chair while meditating. Although this is not the conventional position for seated meditation, it provides extra back support. It is still possible to channel your focus while assuming this posture. Make sure that you use a chair with a straight back to prevent slouching and to keep a straight spine. You’ll also want to make sure that you have your pelvis in a neutral position. Keep your feet flat on the floor and your shoulders relaxed. You can keep your hands at your sides or on your lap.
For the rest of us who meditate on the floor, it’s always a good idea to have a meditation cushion handy. You can buy them in a store or online or use any comfortable cushion you have in the house. Finding the right seated position takes a bit of trial and error. You will know you have the right position when your body is relaxed and open. Stick to that one for a while and you will notice a positive change and improvement in your practice.
You can choose to sit in the full lotus position, which is the most popular one to assume. If you aren’t too flexible, you may find it hard to move your feet onto your thighs once your legs are crossed. If you struggle to get into this position, try a half lotus. Sit with your bottom leg straight out ahead of you while crossing your other leg on top of it. You can also try the quarter lotus which is the cross –legged position that most of us sit in when we’re on the floor. If you prefer, you can kneel with a cushion between the back of your thigh and your calf muscle. Or you can place the cushion underneath your knees to provide extra comfort and padding.
Make sure that your body is aligned and your weight is evenly distributed. This will prevent fatigue and irritability during your meditation. Try lengthening your back and spine as if your head is being pulled to the sky. Your muscles will shift automatically to redistribute the weight. Once you have an upright posture, mentally question each part of your body that is weight bearing. Determine if the weight equally shared on both sides of your body. You’ll want to check your feet, thighs, knees, butt and shoulders. If you’re feeling symmetrical and well aligned, then you are almost all set to go.
Some people use their hands as a focus point, to improve concentration. Decide how much you want your hands to be involved in your meditation. This will affect where you position them. If you are focusing on your hands, try one of these two methods first. One is to put your palms together at chest level. Another is to put the right hand gently over the left hand and touch your thumbs together to create a heart shape.
If you aren’t using your hands during the meditation, rest them gently on your thighs. Make sure that before you rest your hands, your shoulders are in a neutral position. Your shoulders should not be tight or creeping up to your ears. This will be extremely helpful to open up the chest. With an open chest, you’ll manage to take longer and deeper breaths. This aids in the release and enlightenment during your practice.
The last and most important positioning strategy is to find the right place for your head and eyes. You want to prevent your neck from taking too much strain. This is especially important if you plan to be doing a longer meditation. Keep your neck neutral and avoid off-center positioning. There are two schools of thought regarding open or closed eyes during meditation. Some prefer that the eyes be open, as this is a natural state of being. Lower your gaze and avoid focusing or staring at something specific. For many of us this can be quite a challenge, but if you master it, it can be a great success. For the “eyes closed” team this is the easier direction. It allows the meditator to block out any external visual distractions. On the downside, you do run the risk of drifting off.
Now that you have the scoop about meditation positions, what are you waiting for?