Sitting in Meditation
Let’s talk about sitting in meditation, now that we’ve started to practice. As I said my previous blog about meditation, there’s a lot of information out there but no really clear instructions on exactly what to do or what to expect. Last week we just talked about sitting still for five to ten minutes. This week I want to talk about how to sit in meditation.
For some reason we seem to think we have to sit on the floor, in full lotus, with our upturned palms resting on them. The result is discomfort and distraction. So, how do we sit to meditate? Well there’s an easy answer. Simply sit up straight on whatever and wherever is most comfortable to you.
For a lot of people this will mean sitting in a chair. Preferably a straight back chair to provide back support, or perhaps on your sofa or on your bed propped up against pillows. The important thing is that you sit up straight. Not agonizingly ramrod straight but not slouching, and this is where most of us need something to rest against, like the back of a chair.
Why, Rosie, why? Because you want the energy to flow easily along the spine and up to the crown. More on this in another blog.
Your feet don’t necessarily have to touch the floor but if they do, they should be flat on the floor. A foot rest will raise the knees slightly raised in relation to the hips, taking stress off the lower back for many of us.
You can sit cross legged, although this can be challenging for an extended period. I used to sit on the floor, with a cushion behind my lower back, and my legs straight out in front of me. I tried cross legged, but as my time increased it became too uncomfortable.
You could also experiment with a meditation bench, a low bench that lets you sit cross legged, but keeps your hips higher than your knees; the shift allows you to keep your spine straight. Although I wouldn’t recommend this for beginners as here there’s nothing to rest the back against.
If there is one rule for sitting in meditation, it’s that you’re sitting upright, your back is straight, but most of all that you are comfortable. If you’re not comfortable that will be a distraction and you won’t be able to sit in silence. And as we talked about last week, there’s enough going on with your mind once you sit quietly, and it has you all to itself, that you don’t need another distraction such as pain in your back or cramping in your legs. Now that I’ve moved and have my meditation room I sit in a comfortable chair, albeit cross legged.
The question always comes up: Can I meditate lying down? This isn’t recommended as we tend to fall asleep. The same may happen if you meditate sitting on your bed, even if you’re sitting straight. I experimented this many times by self and I always fall asleep. However there are no hard and fast rules here, so if you would rather experiment lying down perhaps in a sort of Savasana then go ahead. If this works for you and you don’t drift off then that’s fine.
Don’t Forget Your Blankie
Regardless of where you sit, it’s recommended to put a blanket, from a natural material such as cotton or wool, under you. It can be folded so as it covers the back of the chair, the seat, and then falls down to the floor or your foot rest, where your feet can rest on it.
What Do I Do With My Hands
Again there are no strict rules. Ideally most people sit with her hands resting on her thighs of palms upturned the upturn pump position indicates a state of receptivity. We want to welcome positivity inspiration enlightenment joy bless whatever you’re looking for on this journey. But it isn’t bad to have your hands resting palms down sometimes this is used for a more introspective meditative state. Another hand position is simply one hand resting over the other in front of you roughly abdomen level. But here again what works for you is more important than any instruction and I or anyone else can give you. If you’re comfortable in your chair with your arms resting on the arm rests and go ahead by all means.
For me, regardless of how my hands are positioned, I always touch my thumb to my index, or to my middle and index finger. I was told a long time ago that this ensures the energy keeps flowing through the body. I don’t know how true that is, but I believe it and I feel it works for me.
It is normal to fall asleep when meditating. This shouldn’t be a concern at first, since you’re not sitting for that long. But as the time increases it’s a real possibility. It has happened to me countless times. Yes, sitting up! If you’re tired, this is normal. But it isn’t a reason to stop meditating. The time you sit in silence is beneficial, that in between place, neither awake nor asleep is beneficial. You got some time in, you were tired, you fell asleep. No worries.
If there’s one thing to remember it’s that the benefits of meditation come from sitting in silence. Not from a special bench or a particular posture. Meditation isn’t competitive. There are no points for sitting for hours like a Yogi. There is no faster path to enlightenment if you twist yourself into a pretzel, facing east. Remember, the most important thing is for you to be comfortable. Experiment and discover what works for you, going at your own pace, your way. Let me know your set up, and enjoy sitting meditation.