fitness · meditation

Finding a sitting posture during meditation: an experimental process

I’ve been doing daily meditation since July 13. It’s something I’m really happy about– I get to experience a lot of different emotions and sensations, and also a make some space to abide with them, as it were.

Below the neck, there are also issues to deal with in meditation, namely, how to sit. The aim isn’t maximum comfort, but rather stability, alertness and sustainability. To meditate, you need to be able to sit quietly, in a still way, for anywhere from 1 minute to an hour or more at a time.

These days my sitting periods are 10–20 minutes. That’s long enough for my knee to start aching, my foot to fall asleep, or my hands to want to change position. There’s no rule that says you can’t move during meditation (well, some meditation practices do have those rules and for reasons, but that’s not what I’m talking about here). In fact, one of my meditation teachers told us during an all-day workshop that if a foot or leg starts to fall asleep, feel free to adjust subtly. Good.

But, the question remains: how should one sit for optimal meditation performance?

Woman in a full lotus pose, legs crossed and sitting on opposite thighs. Totally not required.

The image above is one of the ways to sit in meditation, but there are lots of others. I’ve tried all of them, and make use of them depending on how I’m feeling, where I am, what time of day it is, and what else I’ve done that day. Below are some positions to check out.

In a chair. Sometimes this feels better than sitting on the floor, and works when floor space is limited (or there are dogs/cats about!)
Kneeling (hero pose, which I totally can't do), with support between knees (I still can't do it, but others like it).
Kneeling (hero pose, which I totally can’t do), with support between knees (which I still can’t do, but others like it).

The next two poses are pretty standard seated poses, both of which I like:

And then there’s the lotus family. Not comfortable for me, but they are for many others.

Thanks to this website for all the nice pictures of meditation postures.

You can also lie down for meditation. I don’t do this often, mainly because I have trouble focusing (read I get too sleepy) lying down. But YMMV, and again, experimenting is good.

Lying down meditation. I use a blanket or pillow under my knees; some use a blanket under the head.

If you’re still here and reading, you may be thinking, okay. But Catherine, which pose really is the best one for meditation?

The answer is: whatever pose helps you to sit long enough to meditate: in a house; with a mouse; in a box, with a fox! Whatever works for you is the right one.

Readers who meditate or have tried meditation: what positions work for you? Which ones definitely don’t work for you? Have you meditated with a mouse or fox? We’d love to hear from you.

3 thoughts on “Finding a sitting posture during meditation: an experimental process

  1. I’m constantly moving because of knee pain. I’m not sure what would work. But also, worth noting, I haven’t tried. Well except for the beginning and of yoga classes. But I also have a naive non meditators’ question: Isn’t sitting mostly bad for us? If we’re trying to move more and sit less, why wouldn’t the default be walking meditation? I know it’s not. But I wonder why not.

  2. On days when I’m feeling particularly anxious, I’ll meditate while sitting on an exercise/stability ball. The slightest move of my foot, knee, or hip can make me more comfortable, and the seat itself is comfortable to sit on for a long time. (I’m obviously not a stickler about remaining physically still – sometimes I’ll actually bounce slightly on the ball, which is soothing and invites joy.)

  3. Thank you for the illumination–now I know that I generally sit in Burmese pose. Though with my sprained ankle, I’m lying on my back with both legs raised on a cushion. Multitasking–meditate and elevate my ankle!

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