Are you sitting comfortably? I usually start my meditation sessions by asking people to find a comfortable sitting position...then I look around the room and see people trying to cross their legs, often with knees up to their armpits, rounded backs and a distinct look of intense discomfort on their face! Even if I look people directly in the eye and suggest a different sitting position or a chair, they will rarely take my advice and insist on forcing themselves into a position that their body is just not ready for...I think part of it is wanting to fit it, not do anything differently from the majority of other people in the room. Part of it maybe that they think they are being brave and working hard.
But really it runs contrary to what we are trying to achieve in a meditation, if you are in a horrible uncomfortable position then you are not going to be able to concentrate on much, maybe not on anything other than how uncomfortable you are, how you back hurts, how your feet are going to sleep, then you'll start to shift and fidget, which might make you feel embarrassed when in a quiet room with everyone else seemingly serene and comfortable. You might even give up altogether and question your ability to be able to sit to meditate, becoming agitate and frustrated that you can't sit still...so now you can begin to see how your physical position may lead to a spiralling of judgements and agitation...
It takes a while for us to quiet that competitive, judgemental little voice in our head, so let me explain why I think it's so important to listen to the following advice, don't be shy or embarrassed if you need to use props to ensure your comfort, your body will thank you, your practice will be easier , more sustainable and everyone else in the room will also benefit from the lack of shifting going on around them 😉
Why does it matter?
Sitting in a comfortable position will ensure you can carry out the meditations without distractions from the physical body. It is a really important aspect of your practice and it is worth spending some time discovering how you can find the perfect method for you, finding the right cushions, props and position.
Sitting properly will enable you to:
- stay awake more easily
- to breathe easily and more fully
- to be more comfortable
- to have less physical pain
- to produce less physical tension
- to allow you to focus on the practices
Which position is right for me?
The most important part is to check that the level of your knees is either below or at the same level as your hips as you sit, so you may need to adjust the amount of support in order to get the right height. If your knees are higher than your hips it will create compression and tension in the lower back and will generally create a more rounded, slouched position.
- You can sit cross legged, whether that is in full Lotus Posture or with the legs crossed more loosely.
- You can kneel on the floor or on a mat with a cushion or meditation stool under your hips for support.
- Alternatively sit on a straight backed chair with your feet resting flat on the ground and your lower back supported, but make sure you are in a position that your back is upright, not leaning or slouching back.
- You can also do these practices lying down if you really cannot find a comfortable sitting position, however you may find yourself dropping off a lot more easily, so try to stay awake by having your elbows on the floor by your sides with your hands in the air if you have to lie down!
There are also various specialist props you can buy in order to make sure your feel comfortable which you can see in the boxes below.