Meditation Basics: How to Sit
Starting a meditation practice can be easy once you find what works best for you from how you sit, to how you breathe, to how props and mantra can support you.
The practice of meditation has many purposes.
Regardless of your reasoning for starting a meditation practice, finding a way that your physical body can relax into the practice is important.
If you have a look any depictions of meditative postures from old texts or scriptures, you’ll notice a theme: the practitioner is sitting upright, with a tall spine.
The concept of an upright seated position is said to represent the connection between heaven and earth, and to create the most flow of energy through the multiple channels that run through our bodies.
Remember, what’s important is finding a posture that works for your body.
Before we jump into how to build the rest of the posture, let’s talk about different ways you can create your seat.
The goal is to look for a position that you can sit comfortably in for 5, 10 or 15 minutes – or more!
For some with knee, hip or lower back issues, sitting on the ground is simply not an option.
Finding a chair with a firm seat that, when your sits bones – those bones that you can feel on your bum when you move side to side or forward and back – are grounded in the seat and both your feet are plated firmly and fully on the floor is a great option for those whose bodies aren’t happy sitting on the ground.
There are also three seated poses most often used in meditation.
Burmese position involves tucking one foot into your groins and crossing the other ankle in front of it, aligning your ankles with the center of your pubic bone.
Half Lotus is another cross-legged option for more advanced practitioners.
Full lotus is the most advanced and said to be the ‘Everest’ of seated positions.
Both Half and Full Lotus require care and caution to move your body into, as the knees are delicate yet strong joints with limited flexion in the direction needed for these postures. Thus, they are recommended for more seasoned practitioners with experience in moving their body into it.
With your seat of choice decided upon, there are a few cues that you can give your body to move into your straight spine position for your meditation.
Find your sits bones – the protruding bones on your backside – and envision them growing roots into your chair, the cushion beneath you or the floor.
A great adjustment for a lot of bodies is to get the hips above the knees – especially if you are experiencing tightness anywhere in the lower body or if the knees are a fair distance away from the floor.
By placing cushions or blocks under your rear, your hips can relax and lower legs can fall more easily towards the ground.
Achieving a straight spine may seem like a lot of work for your body.
However, when you arrange your hips, shoulders and skull correctly, you can experience a sense of ease in maintaining a straight spine throughout your meditation.
Take a slight pelvic tilt forward to support your lower back and settle into the natural curvature of the lower spine.
Keeping your pelvic tilt in place, slowly start to draw your upper body back, aligning your shoulders over your hips.
Draw your shoulders up next to your ears, then allow them to relax down to their natural place.
Slowly slide your hands onto your thighs, and draw your hands towards your hips to encourage your shoulders to draw down and back, shoulder blades supporting the heart.
To create a straight line from the top of the head to the tip of your tailbone, slowly draw your skull back over your shoulders.
Think about slightly tucking your chin in and down to lengthen through the back of your head and neck.
Settling into your seat is the first step to finding peace and stillness in your meditation.
Play with ways of sitting that support your body. And be patient with yourself; mindfulness is a daily practice.