Finding a position that’s comfortable and supportive is important for beginning meditation. Remaining completely still for any period of time is difficult for most Americans, and if you’re uncomfortable, it makes it even harder.
If you’re just starting out with meditation, don’t feel like you have to twist yourself up like a pretzel. A simple posture will provide just as much benefit.
In Buddhist philosophy, the mind, body, and breath are intricately connected. How you sit will affect the quality of your breathing and your mental focus.
Keeping your back straight with good posture is important no matter which meditation position you choose. This allows the diaphragm to move freely as you breathe more deeply. If you are sitting on the floor, you may need a pillow (called a zafu) to raise your buttocks and help you keep your body upright with very little effort.
Sitting in a chair is the simplest way to begin your meditation practice. It’s also the best option for individuals who suffer from back pain or other discomfort that makes sitting on the floor difficult. Keep your feet flat on the floor. Use a backrest if needed, but keep your body upright and your back straight. You can use a zafu pillow behind your back to help your posture, or you can sit on the front third of the zafu in the same you would use it on the floor.
Sitting on the floor helps you feel more grounded and stable. Meditation cushions such as a zafu and zabuton can make sitting on the floor more comfortable. Use the zafu to raise your hips and make it easier to keep your body upright. Sit on the front third of the zafu cushion. You can either sit with your knees bent in a kneeling position with the zafu under you (seiza position) or with your legs crossed in front of you and both feet on the floor, in the Burmese position.
The Burmese, half Lotus, and Lotus positions require flexibility. Only attempt to sit in these positions if you can do so comfortably. Otherwise they may interfere with your ability to meditate.
Photo Credits: Kanzeon Zen Center on Flickr