Meditation has been practiced in many cultures for thousands of years. Today, we will talk about meditation postures. Since your mind and body are linked with each other, your body posture is very important. Meditation can be practiced in various positions including sitting, walking, reclining and while doing other activities.
The traditional meditation of the Buddha is the seven-point meditation posture. Once you master it, you can meditate in that position for the rest of your life. Correct and proper posture helps your mind with peace, strength and control. It benefits your physical body by bringing your energies and systems into balance.
The classical seven-point posture
Full Lotus Pose (Padmasana) is the posture for meditation. If you are unable to get into that position, you could try the Half Lotus Pose (Ardha Padmasana).
It’s very important to feel comfortable and relax during meditation. If neither of those positions are comfortable, then you could sit in crossed-leg position. Many people nowadays, are unable to sit on the floor at all, and it is completely possible to modify the seven-point meditation posture so that someone sitting in a chair or on props can practice it. Make sure that you choose a sitting position that you can sit comfortably in for a long period of time.
Your hands should be relaxed on your lap, with one palm resting on the other palm, palms upward, thumbs lightly touching. Or you can simply rest your hands on your knees. It can help to keep your arms slightly away from your body so that air can circulate. This will help prevent sleepiness during meditation. Make sure to relax your shoulders and your arms.
The most important point is your back, which should be straight and relaxed. The position of the legs contributes greatly to how easy it is to keep a straight back. The higher your butt is and the lower your knees, the easier it is to maintain. You can sit on a bolster/pillow to lowering down your knees. Experiment with various sitting positions to see what works best for you. If you find it too difficult to sit up straight because of back pain or injury, use a back support.
In the beginning, it is best to keep your eyes closed for better concentration. However, after good experience with meditation, try to leave your eyes slightly open in order to admit a little light. This way you will direct your gaze downwards, not focusing on anything in particular. This is optimal because closing the eyes can result in sluggishness, sleep, or daydreaming, all of which are obstacles to a clear meditation session. Your eyes and your facial muscles should be relaxed.
The position of your shoulders should be back a little. Roll your shoulders anticlockwise so that your shoulder blades move downwards. This motion helps to guide the upper body into position.
Keep your jaw and mouth relaxed, with your teeth slightly apart, relaxed, and with lips slightly touching. Your chin should be parallel to the floor and tucked in slightly. Breathe through your nose. Place your tongue against your palate, with the tip gently touching the back of the teeth.
Finally, slightly incline your head so that your gaze is directed naturally toward the floor in front of you. This is all about finding a proper balance—if your chin is held too high you may have problems with mental wandering and distraction, whereas if you drop your head too forward you may experience mental dullness or sleepiness.
Learn to notice where you are tense or in pain, and release it slowly by relaxing over time. Before meditation, try to stretch or practice yoga to increase your flexibility and get to know your body better. One of the goals of meditation is to become a kinder person, so be sure you extend that kindness to yourself.
Gauding, Madonna. The Meditation Bible. Sterling Publication Co., Inc. New York, 2005.