How to find a comfortable posture — even if your knees hurt and you struggle to sit stillIt seems so easy to meditate. And because more CEOs, athletes, celebrities, and influencers are highlighting the advantages of their regular meditation practices, most people know that meditation is a crucial life skill to help us survive and thrive amidst the turmoil of daily life. However, for me, that’s another story. Even after more than 15 years of consistent practice, and although I teach meditation and that meditation is my life’s work, I still have trouble quietening my mind and finding the “ideal meditation posture.” I fidget. I scratch. I gaze around the room. And on days when my hips ache, and neck and back muscles are tight, I will spend the ‘entire session’ rubbing the backs of my knees, prodding my chin forward and bunching my back muscles. If you can identify with my discomfort in finding an ideal posture during meditation, read on. Together we’ll explore some simple tips and techniques to help you along the way and improve your meditation posture.
The Importance Of Posture When You MeditateHow you sit affects the quality of your meditation practice from an energetic standpoint. Sitting upright on the ground strengthens your connection with the earth, facilitating energy flow from the base of the spine to the crown. But many people need help to maintain this position.
Problems Associated With Sitting ErectThe traditional image of meditation involves you sitting with a straight spine in the lotus position. Most people, especially if they have not exercised for a long time, have difficulty sitting on the floor with their legs crossed. Stiff hips, lower back pain, creaky knees and tense shoulders are common posture problems when you meditate. Years of poor posture, weak stomach and back muscles, and sitting slumped on a settee watching TV, hunched over a computer at work, or playing video games make it harder to sit erect while meditating.
How To Maintain the Ideal Posture During MeditationAs this is an introductory post into “meditation posture”, let’s keep it simple and look at the traditional seated position on the floor and the adaptive posture of sitting in a chair. In future articles, we will explore in more detail the different postures and props you can use to support your meditation practice. The key body parts to be aware of, whether sitting on the floor on a chair whilst meditating, are the positioning of your legs, knees, back, arms and hands, neck and head and eyes and jaw. The ideal traditional meditation posture is sitting cross-legged on the floor on a mat, hands resting gently on your knees or softly clasped together on your lap; your back is straight, and your head and neck are in line with your back while your eyes rest on the horizon or are slightly lowered. If you have a habit of grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw, ensure it is relaxed by allowing a slight space between your upper and lower lips; gently close your eyes or keep them open with a soft gaze. If you find it difficult to feel comfortable sitting on the floor, you can meditate sitting on a chair. If you choose to sit in a chair, bear in mind the following body positions. First, choose a straight-backed chair and ensure it rests on a stable flat surface.
- Feet: Have your feet flat on the floor, toes pointing forward, and feet positioned about hip distance apart. If your feet do not touch the floor, rest on a cushion. Uncross your ankles and legs. You sit straighter and more aligned when your feet are resting flat on the floor rather than tucked under your chair or crossed at the ankles.
- Hands: Rest your hands gently on your lap in a hand position, mudra, of choice.
- Shoulders: Gently squeeze your shoulder blades towards each other, release and lower your shoulders to keep your chest broad. Lengthen up through your spine, keeping the buttocks and back of your thighs contacted with the chair.
- Neck and Chin: Lengthen your neck, keep your chin level with the floor and tuck it in slightly, which helps to keep your neck nice and long and brings your neck in alignment with your head, neck and back.
- Eyes: Maintain the upright head position, and decide whether to close or keep your eyes open. If you keep your eyes open, have a soft gaze, and lower your eyes to look towards the tip of your nose or in the direction of your heart centre. Let the eyeballs rest gently in your skull if you prefer to close your eyes.
Common Meditation Posture Problems And How To Improve ThemIdeally, when you meditate, your knees need to be lower than your hips. Sit on a small, firm cushion if you have stiff hips or sore knees. This helps support your back and raises your hips, thus easing stiffness. You can even place a couple of cushions under your knees to support them. Alternatively, sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you, or lean against a wall with a cushion between your lower back and the wall. Before you start your practice, a few simple yoga stretches or a short self-massage helps soften your body and ease tension and stiffness in your neck and shoulders.
Now that you have these tips to help you improve your posture, I hope you feel more comfortable sitting to meditate. Watch out for further articles discussing the value of good posture in meditation and alternative options if sitting on the floor is too unpleasant for you.
Reflection QuestionWhat is your preferred meditation posture, and what challenges do you experience when you meditate? Kindly share your experiences in the comments; hopefully, your words will encourage others in their meditation journey. So you can show up, trust and love yourself more and move forward with your dreams. Click here to get your gift 21 Affirmations for Self-Love and Healing. I originally published this article on Medium where you may read my other inspirational articles.
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