Looking for a way to relax that doesn’t require you to be a yoga savant or a zen master? Perhaps you’re considering meditation? If so, there are a few things you need to know to get the most out of it, and it all begins with your posture.
We can probably all recall at least one time in our childhoods, when parents, teachers or pretty much any adult in our lives, told us to “Sit up straight!”, “Don’t slouch!”, and “Walk properly!”. Despite it feeling like yet another telling off from grown-ups, bad posture can have detrimental effects in adulthood, including sleep problems, exacerbated back pain, and high blood pressure. Which explains why good posture during meditation is so important.
There are various schools of thought on the best meditation posture, but in reality the best posture depends entirely on you and your body.
Lodro Rinzler writes for the Yoga Journal about the Seven Point Meditation Posture (a framework utilised by Tibetan monks). There are seven simple aspects to remember:
- How you sit and investment in a meditation cushion
- Elongation of your spine
- Resting your hands
- Relaxing your shoulders
- Tucking in your chin
- Opening your jaw
- Resting your gaze.
These seven aspects are in place to ensure that meditation does exactly what it’s supposed to do, which is to “calm the mind and relax the body”, according to Rinzler.
Additionally, Chad Foreman writing for The Way of Meditation, notes that there are three qualities to remember in trying to achieve the right posture for meditation:
Alignment relates specifically to keeping the spine and neck, straight and centred. Relaxation refers to remaining comfortable by relaxing your shoulders and muscles. And stillness is exactly what it sounds like; keeping your body still by focusing and centering your gaze. Fixed focal points are incredibly important for this to be achieved.
And although the schools of thought on posture might be many, they share a number of similar traits. In fact across the board there is an agreement that good posture for meditation cannot be achieved without the very first step; getting into a comfortable seating position.
Most likely, if you Google “meditation sitting styles”, you’ll find numerous images of extremely flexible models sitting in Quarter Lotus, Half Lotus or Full Lotus. Yet the truth is, there are a number of different styles that work, depending on the most comfortable sitting position for you.
Dimity McDowell consulted some meditation experts to find alternative sitting positions, to help maintain good meditation posture when the prospect of mastering the Lotus or anything plant-based feels mountainous and not something your body will cooperate with. Some of their recommendations include using a chair, standing and even lying down. And the truth is, each position has varying degrees of success depending on which makes you feel the most relaxed and aware.
Ultimately there is no such thing as “the best posture for meditation”; there is just the best posture for you.