Posted in meditation

Posture – How We Sit

I’m going to talk about how we sit. What we are doing with our body in meditation is just as important as what we’re doing with our mind.

If we can sit in the full lotus position, that is said to be the best. It’s sitting cross-legged with your left foot on your right thigh and your right foot on your left thigh. I have difficulty doing this position for any length of time, so I often do the half lotus, which is left foot on top of right thigh and right foot tucked underneath left knee. If we can sit in this way we will be stable and our feet won’t fall asleep. I should note that if you meditate in a chair instead of on a cushion, the best way to do this is with your legs firmly planted on the floor.

More important than what we do with our legs is what we do with our back. We need to keep our spine straight. When I used to teach kids I told them to pretend a string was tied to their head holding it up so they stayed sitting straight the whole time. I’ve always found that when I start to slouch I also start to daydream. A straight back helps prevent the mind wandering. We think of body and mind as separate sometimes, but they’re not. Also, slouching for a long time will probably cause some soreness.

Next we need a plan for what our hands are doing. If we don’t have a plan, we might fidget. I recommend what I call “the bowl”. Place your left hand on top of your right hand, with each finger lined up on the opposite with your thumbs gently touching, so an oval is created between the thumbs and the fingers. Some people call this “the cosmic mudra” and I think that’s too fancy. Your hands should be in your lap, with your thumbs near your belly button. If this position really doesn’t work for you, the other option I recommend is called “the relaxation mudra”. That is simply placing your hands on your knees.

A lot of discussion could be had about what we do with our eyes. I recommend an eyes open practice. Tilt your head downward at about a 45 degree angle and gently focus on a spot on the floor. We don’t want to stare intensely but just look and make sure we’re looking at something that’s not too interesting or distracting. I’ve always found that if my eyes are closed, I’m daydreaming, but I know many people do recommend a closed eyes practice.

Posture is of great importance because body and mind are intimately connected. We think there’s a separation and there’s not. Straightening our body leads to straightening the mind.


 

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