Meditation is a calming process that allows you to center yourself and joyfully experience the present moment. There are a myriad of meditation postures that you could try, most of which are easy to perform. A good Buddhist meditation posture should be comfortable. You shouldn’t strain your body to assume a certain pose. Fundamentally, mind and body should be at ease, upright and aware, although it does take some time to get used to sitting still.
Here are four factors to consider before performing any meditation posture:
- Be comfortable. For your meditation session, you intend to absorb yourself with mindfulness. You don’t want unnecessary bodily pain to interrupt your session. The meditation posture you assume should therefore be comfortable enough to allow you to successfully complete meditating without angsts of pain.
- Be still. Let your body achieve a sense of stability and balance as you commence your practice. You can find your balance by gently rocking your body forward, backward, then side to side (like a pendulum) until you find the center of your Buddhist meditation posture.
- Relax your muscles. It’s crucial to relax all muscle groups in your body before meditating. Your neck, face and shoulder muscles shouldn’t be tense. Hang your arms effortlessly, allowing your hands to gently rest on the knees or lap. Relax your legs as well. To avoid hurting your knees, let them touch the ground or support them with pillows. It is important that your hips be above your knees; use a cushion to elevate your seat as necessary.
- Align your spine. As you assume your favorite meditation posture, remember that your back should be aligned with your neck and head. To simplify this, you could imagine that your entire spine is a stack of coins. If you lean too much in any direction, the coins will inevitably tumble over.
Remember, everyone’s body is different – use your common sense and find the posture that works best for you.
Here are the top 5 Buddhist meditation postures
- The Lotus Position
There are basically three types of lotus meditation postures: the quarter lotus, the half lotus and the full lotus. The quarter lotus position is pretty simple to perform. You just cross your legs while in a seated position, allowing your feet to rest below the opposite knee. Sit on a couple of cushions/towels to raise your body a bit. Make sure your knees are lower than your hips. This pose is highly recommended by experts.
The half lotus varies mildly from the quarter lotus. As you cross your legs to assume this Buddhist meditation posture, rest one foot on the opposite thigh. Next, fold the other foot beneath the top leg. The full lotus is one of the most challenging meditation postures in existence. Sitting in a cross-legged position, rest both of your feet upon opposite thighs. The full lotus posture is not necessary for sitting meditation – the quarter and half lotus are perfectly fine.
- The Burmese Pose
If you can’t bare sitting with your legs crossed, there’s an easier meditation posture you can assume: the Burmese pose. Here, you simply sit on the ground and allow your feet to lie on the floor. Ensure you get comfortable with this relaxed pose that’s also called the Sukhasana (or Easy Pose).
- The Seiza Pose
Apart from crossing your legs, you could also kneel. The seiza pose is a renowned Buddhist meditation posture that involves kneeling on a mat. You could place a pillow/cushion between your legs to avoid any pain. The Buddhists of old came up with this pose thousands of years ago. They called it Visarana. Zen meditators often use this pose. It helps to use a wooden meditation bench to sit on so your legs don’t fall asleep.
- Corpse pose
This meditation posture can induce sleep – it involves lying on your back with your countenance facing upwards. Stretch your hands loosely on the ground, close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing. The corpse pose is perfect for individual who needs to rest because of back issues. This posture is often used at the end of a yoga session, called sarvasana. This posture isn’t recommended for mindfulness practice because it naturally makes you drowsy, but you can rest this way in between sitting periods.
- The chair pose
If you don’t fancy sitting on a mat for long, you could start by sitting on a chair. This posture is comfortable since it doesn’t hurt your knees or legs. However, you shouldn’t lean on the chair. Don’t let your back touch the back of your chair. Rather, sit upright and align your spine with your head. Place your feet flat on the floor with your legs parallel to each other. Some meditators even alternate between sitting on a cushion and a chair. It is also perfect for elderly meditators or anyone with physical problems. Remember, the point of meditation is to learn to work with your mind, not struggle with a some physical posture you have a preconception about.
Whichever Buddhist meditation pose you choose, ensure that you’re comfortable. It’s better to maintain a comfortable posture for 15 minutes than to endure a whole hour of pain. Why not check out the Mindworks: Guided Meditation App while at it? You’ll benefit from an array of meditation resources and daily meditations to help you grow.