How to find the right meditation position.

Finding the right meditation position is very important to be able to fully experience  the practice of meditation. If you don’t sit properly, you can’t meditate.  If your body is in pain, it’s an obstacle to internalise your mind, because your mind is focused on the sensation of the pain and therefore, you can’t meditate.

Over the last ten years I have participated annually in a 10-day Buddhist meditation retreat. It’s here I became aware how many people don’t know how to sit correctly for meditation.

During many retreats, the focus tends to be on the technique, rather than to learn first the foundations of sitting correctly. I don’t mean that they aren’t good meditation schools, but the modern meditator has a very different body and lifestyle to the meditator of ancient times.

Repetitive sitting for prolonged periods of time when the body isn’t in a correct posture, you can develop short term injury. Sometimes after many years of practicing you don’t notice you have developed a chronic injury caused by sitting incorrectly.

Find the right position for you.

It is a good idea to experiment with different positions but you need to know that they are safe. Ideally at the beginning of your meditation journey it’s beneficial to be guided by an experienced yoga or mediation instructor, so that you can learn the different variations, there are many! The important thing is to be completely safe.

Different variations for practising meditation:

  • Sitting on the floor in a cross-legged position –  is the most common variation. There are many alternatives to choose from, but ultimately it will depend on your preference and your physical capability.
  • Using a prop – Meditation Stool or a Bolster.
  • Sitting on a chair
  • Shavasana – laying on the floor.

Whichever position you choose, the important thing is the spine must be straight and in line with the neck and the head.

Right location for meditation
Don’t be afraid to use props.

Western bodies are not used to sitting on the floor for prolonged periods of time. In general, the modern lifestyle is really sedentary. We do less physical work, and have more sedentary habits. We rarely sit on the floor, always on chairs, so our hamstrings and hips can be really stiff.

However, there are tricks to find the right meditation position, to be able to sit comfortably with a straight back and without tension in the body.

It’s amazing how using props properly can support you. But remember, to be adaptable, your body is not the same all the time! A sitting position that was working amazingly yesterday maybe doesn’t work well today. But it may work tomorrow!

Always be open to adapt for the moment, it really is what meditation is about, to be present here and now.

Different Props

Nowadays you can buy so many different meditation props to support you and your practice.  Some of them are quite expensive, but you have the option to be creative and make your own props.

As an example, if you don’t have a pillow or cushion to place under your buttocks, a folded blanket works beautifully as an alternative and sometimes can be better.

If you don’t have a meditation stool or a bolster you can wrap a blanket around a yoga mat. (watch this video for more inspiration!)

meditating siting on a chair

Here’s how to sit for meditation using a cushion or folded blanket.

With our western bodies, almost everyone needs to place a cushion or a folded blanket underneath the buttocks. The cushion or folded blanket is the ideal prop for all seated positions, from easy cross-legged position (Sukhasana) to the advanced full lotus position (Padmasana).

  1. Select a seated meditation position that fits with your physical capability.
  2. Like with an asana posture it’s essential to create a good foundation of the base sitting position. Make sure the spine is erect and there should be no tension in the knees and the hips.
  3. If the knees do not touch the floor, try placing a cushion, folded blanket or block underneath to support them. The only exception to this is in Sukhasana (easy crossed legged position), because your knees rest on the inside of the feet. But it’s up to your body to decide this.
  4. The shoulders should be relaxed drawing them slightly back and down away from the ears . The chin is tucked in slightly and if you feel tension in the jaw, it’s a good trick to press your tongue against the roof of your mouth. If this trick doesn’t work for you, remember you can practice your meditation laying in Shavasana.
Don’t be afraid to modify or move the body

Remember! To be able to experience the practice of meditation the body must avoid any tension. If the body is tense, you cannot meditate. You will be sitting and suffering! This can be called meditation, but it’s not!

You need to modify for your own needs. Move the body if it is needed. But do so slowly, with awareness, so that you don’t externalise and lose the experience.

The right location

Once you have found the sitting right position and you have your props. Find a right location.

At the same time that a wrong posture interferes with the experience of our meditation practice, the location of your practice is also important. Find a quiet space away from any distractions that can draw your senses to the external world. You want to go inwards!

If you are practising at home. try to keep the same place as your personal meditation nook, where no one can interrupt your practice!

Find the right technique

When you start your meditation journey, it’s a good idea to learn a trusted technique.

There are so many different meditation practices available that work well for different needs. In the beginning, you just need to learn one, and make a commitment to practise regularly. To start you along your journey. Here’s a link to access a 10 minute meditation practice.