Just as we take a certain posture to concentrate while working or listening to a talk, it’s very helpful to take a good posture for meditation.
A straight, relaxed and upright back
Depending on the purpose of our meditation, our posture might vary. But in nearly all meditation instructions, a straight, upright back is key. We can observe this ourselves: If we want to be present, alert, and open to new information, we sit up in a good posture. If we want to relax sleepily curled up on our sofa, we choose a different way.
The straight back rises from a relaxed and upright pelvis into a long and well-centered neck. Our head balances on top like the cherry on the cream. Our chin moves slightly towards our chest (is slightly tucked in). This last point with the chin is not to be overdone, but you may find a slight adjustment there is very helpful to naturally keep the mind from scattering.
Relaxed arms and legs
If we are sitting upright in a comfortable cross-legged posture on the floor, or with a straight back on a chair (yet relaxed, without arching the lower back), then our arms and legs can be relaxed. The upright core allows the periphery to relax naturally.
- Often in the beginning a cross-legged posture on the floor is not very comfortable. So feel free to start on a chair or sitting on a stable firm cushion in a comfortable way. You may decide that sitting on the floor is not for you, and that’s fine. On the other hand, it can provide a nice, grounding feeling.
- On a chair it’s good not to lean against the backrest and to sit comfortably relaxed and straight at the same time. Our legs are straight and the soles of our feet are touching the floor.
- On the floor a small meditation bench or a stable cushion under our pelvis is very helpful. Our legs are under the bench, on both sides of the cushion, or in front of the cushion crossed on the floor. It’s important that the cushion is high enough for our posture to feel balanced, relaxed, and stable, generally with our knees below our pelvis. Cushion height is a key point to reduce strain on our knees and neck, and may take some experimentation to feel clearly. We might feel good with small pillows below our knees.
- Our arms are hanging relaxed from our shoulders and the hands are resting in one another in our lap, or each on a thigh or knee. The arms may provide some support, but in a relaxed way, without strain or stiffness.
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