It’s a common misconception that you have to sit bolt upright in the lotus position to meditate effectively. In fact, it’s far more important to be comfy than cause yourself pain while trying to look like a pro. Author of Mindfulness @ Work, Anna Black walks us through her 4 positions to sitting comfortably during meditation so you can get the most out of your practice…
Choose an upright chair rather than an easy chair that does not offer much support. Sit down and, while bending over as if to touch your toes, wriggle your buttocks to the back of the chair, then sit up. This action lifts the spine out of the pelvis without strain. Now imagine an invisible thread that runs from the base of the spine all the way up and along the back of the neck and head and out through the crown of the head. Imagine tugging on this gently, causing your body to lift up slightly and your chin to tuck in.
Alternatively, you can sit cross-legged on the floor. It is important to have a stable base so the hips should be higher than the knees. Ideally, the knees should touch – and so be supported by – the floor. If your knees don’t reach the floor, you might want to place some cushions underneath them. If you need to raise your hips, you could place a yoga block, firm cushion, or large book just under the base of the spine to sit on. Then align the head and spine as above.
The third option is to kneel, using a meditation stool or cushions. Depending on your height or flexibility, you may need several cushions (if using a stool, you may need to place a yoga block or a few books on top to get some height). We want to avoid a sense of slumping or collapsing as apart from being uncomfortable, our external posture reflects and supports our internal state of mind. When you are in the right position, you will feel perfectly aligned.
We are looking for a position of relaxed alertness that is grounded (hence both feet remaining on the floor). Place your hands in a comfortable, supported position in your lap – experiment with having your palms up or down. If you keep your eyes open, drop your gaze and rest is slightly in front of you, relaxed rather than staring. When we sit for a period of time we often find that, just as our mind wanders, our pose wanders too. Therefore, checking in with your posture from time to time while sitting down and making any necessary adjustments will support your practice.
About the author
Anna Black began practising mindfulness as a way of managing her own general and work-related stress, and now teaches mindfulness classes to groups in central London. She has a Masters in Mindfulness-based Approaches to Health (Bangor) and has completed various teacher trainings at the Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice at UMass, USA.