Posture in Meditation

Buddha in meditation

Numerous ancient statues of Buddha show him sitting in meditation in a full-lotus posture. This posture was commonly used in ancient India when one had to sit for a considerable period of time. It was natural and comfortable. Besides, it was stable and required least attention.

In the Yoga Sutra, Patanjali describes asana as a “steady and comfortable posture”, referring specifically to the seated, meditative postures used for meditation practices.

In the Satipatthana Sutta Buddha instructs, “Herein, monks, a monk, having gone to the forest, to the foot of a tree or to an empty place, sits down with his legs crossed, keeps his body erect and his mindfulness alert.”

These are the essential characteristics of a posture in meditation. Crossing of one’s legs and locking them in position serves to stabilize the body, so it does not slump when one is in deep meditation. The posture is well-balanced so it does not cause strain on any body part. Therefore, no discomfort obscures the physical reactions that naturally arise during meditation.

A meditative posture is steady and comfortable. It does not take attention away from naturally occurring physical reactions because of discomfort.

The literature on meditation provides detailed instructions on how to position one’s feet, arms, hands and even fingers. Stress on such niceties simply takes the attention away from the actual practice of meditation. Let the arms rest in the lap and let hands and fingers assume natural positions.

If you can sit neither full- nor half-lotus, sit with your legs crossed in the most comfortable way. If even crossing your legs is impossible, use a chair. When sitting on a chair, have you feet flat on the ground and your body erect. Use a straight-backed chair to support your back, if necessary. You may even use cushions to stabilize the posture, so the body stays immobilized.

It is important that the body is erect, the mind is alert, and the posture is able to keep the body comfortably grounded and immobilized for the duration of the meditation.

In meditation you shall become aware of both the physical as well as the mental environment. Let your eyes be open, half open or closed according to their natural tendency. Let them focus or not focus on anything in particular. Let the gaze be narrow or wide to include the peripheral vision. These variations may occur naturally during the meditation.

Take the time necessary to settle down into your meditative posture, until you have no attention on it.

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Reference: Mindfulness Meditation

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