A nice seat lays the foundation for a nice sit. With that in mind, here is a little primer on how to sit for meditation.
A comfortable upright position is ideal for meditation. A straight spine creates a clear mind. But beyond that, how you sit is up to you. You don’t have to sit on the floor, Buddha-style in a cross-legged position, if that isn’t your cup of chai. The goal is to find a posture that makes you feel alert, but comfortable.
THREE SITTING OPTIONS
Here are three options for sitting like you mean it.
- Sit cross-legged on the floor with your sit bones on a folded blanket, firm cushion, or bolster. The goal is to have your hips slightly above your knees. This keeps your spine straight and your energy moving upward, and creates plenty of space for the breath to move through the body. Rest your hands on your thighs or knees and keep your elbows soft and relaxed. Hint: I like to place my meditation cushion on top of a blanket or sheepskin on the floor so my knees have a soft place to land.
- Sit on the floor on your knees. Place a yoga block or bolster between your heels, then sit your hips back on the block or bolster. Place your palms on your thighs.
- If you aren’t down with sitting on the floor, pull up a chair. This is not an invitation to lounge and chillax in your Dad’s Lay-Z-Boy, so pick a chair with a straight back and a firm seat. Plant your feet flat on the floor and position your sit bones toward the front edge of the seat. Maintain an upright posture without slumping or leaning back in the chair. It’s totally fine to place a pillow at your lower back for support as long as you sit up straight.
STRIKE A POSE
Regardless of how you sit, your posture is very important. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind.
- Relax your shoulders by rolling them back and down, so your chest is broad and open and your shoulder blades are drawn back.
- Tuck your chin slightly—not so much that you create a double chin, but just enough that you sense a subtle elongation in the back of your neck. This keeps the spine straight. (It’s also a yoga technique to help quiet the mind.)
- Keep your jaw loose and soften the lips—no gritting your grill or clenching your jaw.
- Softly close your eyes and turn your gaze inward. Note: If you’ve experienced trauma and do not feel comfortable or safe closing your eyes, simply maintain a soft gaze. To do this, partially close your eyelids and settle your eyes on one point with a soft focus.
- Relax your arms and elbows.
- Some meditations specify a particular hand and finger position (known as a mudra in Sanskrit), but in general, it’s cool to place the hands on the knees.
There you have it! Some basics to help you sit like you mean it!
If you're keen to learn more and find out how to set up your own meditation station, check out my book, Heavily Meditated!