The way of sitting in Meditation.
Before the practice of concentration and meditation, it is necessary to choose the right posture that fits the capacity of the physical body. As physical beings, we are not used to the idea of sitting still and quiet. From the physical mind´s perspective, silence and stillness are something utterly new and unknown, and it often feels strange. Who is this stranger, we constantly try to run from? Perhaps, the answer can be found within the silent stranger himself.
Whenever we experience a moment of silence, especially within a group of people, we get an odd feeling, and immediately try to fill up this strange and empty gap with more talk, thoughts, and actions. This is the conditioning of the physical body and mind and therefore it needs to be reconditioned with the idea of sitting still and being quiet. The physical consciousness is in constant movement and, to begin with, it becomes necessary to practice the sitting so that the physical body and consciousness can adjust. Hence, before any exercise of concentration and meditation, getting used to the idea of just sitting for a few minutes is enough for the physical body and mind. That´s the very first exercise you need to apply every day, for five minutes each time, while remaining silent and undisturbed.
Ideally, when sitting in meditation, the lotus posture (Padmasana) is far the best-suited posture for the practice of pranayama, or breath control, Dharana, or concentration, and Dhyana or meditation. The lotus posture keeps your spine erect and the body relaxed, or less strained. When your spine is erect energy or prana flows more freely through the central nervous system and the energy centers, the nadis, and the chakras, in your spine. It becomes easier to maintain concentration and a serine mind.
Unfortunately, not everyone can sit comfortably in Padmasana, the lotus posture, and therefore you need to adjust to your physical capacity. Whatever posture you choose, it is of paramount importance to maintain an erect spine. A very common practice is to imagine a thread at the top of your head, and when pulling the thread up, your spine becomes erect. It is very important to keep your head, neck, and spine in alignment, in a balanced position. Be careful not to lean forward or backward.
A few variations of posture may be chosen for sitting in Dhyana or meditation. Let´s look at each of them:
Padmasana Lotus Posture.
Padmasana – Lotus posture, is the full lotus, in which each foot is carefully placed on top of the opposite thigh. It keeps the spine erect and maintains a steady flow of prana, or energy through the nerves and the energy centers, the nadis, and the chakras. This position is not recommended for people who feel uncomfortable sitting on the floor. Forcing this position can put too much stress on the knees and cause injures. Applying this posture requires preparation through the discipline of asanas, postures, and stretching, by the practice of hatha yoga.
This video demonstration by the “Ashtanga Yoga girl”, may be a good tip for a full and half Lotus posture prepareations::
Ardha Padmasana Half-Lotus Posture.
Ardha Padmasana – Half-lotus posture, is the half-lotus, in which either the left or the right foot is placed on top of the opposite thigh and the other foot rests on the floor below the other thigh. As with a full-lotus, this posture requires preparation through the discipline of asanas, postures, and stretching, by the practice of hatha yoga.
Sukhasana – easy crossed-legged posture. This is a well-known posture that most people prefer to use, because of their physical constraints. It puts less stress on the knees while opening the hips and straightening the spine. Each foot is placed under the opposite thigh. Very often a meditation pillow is used with this posture. Although Sukhasana, or the easy crossed-legged, is good enough for attaining the state of meditation, it is very easy to slip into a forward-leaning or backward leaning position, and it is more difficult to maintain good alignment of the head, neck, and spine.
Sukhasana Easy crossed-legged.
Shavasana Corps Posture.
Shavasana – the corps posture, as the name suggests, is in which the body is laying down. Normally, this posture or asana is applied only for relaxation, where every limb of the body is systematically relaxed, by the focus of your mind. Consequently, the physical body becomes perfectly relaxed, and it becomes possible to feel the energy flow in your body. Advanced meditators can apply this posture, but very often even the advanced ones fall asleep, and that is certainly not meditation. Hence, for beginners, this posture cannot be recommended for meditation.
Sitting in a chair. – For some individuals, sitting on the floor can be uncomfortable, and put too much strain on the body. Sometimes, we may even choose to sit in a chair rather than sitting crossed-legged on the floor. This is perfectly fine and even recommended to reduce any strain on the body. Some days we may even feel like sitting in a chair rather than on the floor. When sitting in a chair, it is important to remember the proper alignment of the head, neck, and spine, keeping the spine erect and the neck and head in a balanced position. Finally, keep your feet on the floor and sit in an upright position, with the palms of your hands in the lap.
Meditating sitting in a chair.
Where to place your hands?
During a meditation session, placing the palms on the knees or in the lap is usually what people normally do. However, within the system of yoga, many different hand gestures exist, for various purposes and reasons, which will not be covered here. The hand gestures recommended for meditation would be Dhyana Mudra, Gyan Mudra, or Anjali Mudra:
Dhyana Mudra – Meditation Gesture: Place the palms of your hands in your lap, right palm on top of the left, and put the tips of your thumbs together.
Gyan Mudra – Wisdom Gesture: Place the palms of your hands on your knees, facing up, and put the tips of your thumb and index finger together.
How long to practice sitting?
Very long sitting sessions may not be good for the physical body. For beginners, short sessions are better than longer ones. Further, it is possible to get into a state of meditation during physical activity, while the body is not being still. The difference is that the mind´s awareness remains calm, focused, and controlled during physical activity. It involves being fully aware of the inner consciousness and being in a state of energetic flow.
For beginners, this cannot be recommended. However, once we become well acquainted with the state of meditation, we can maintain focused awareness through the day, in almost any activity we choose. This occurs when the awareness is only observing awareness itself, and the object, the subject, and the experience of awareness have all become one.
Eyjólfur Andrés Björnsson
Digital Blogger & Founder of Meditation Lifestyle.