By Jennifer Mazzoni
Since meditation is a personal experience, each of us will have a position we prefer.
Below are three popular meditation positions that I will describe to help you find your preference: sitting, kneeling, and lying down. We can also walk while meditating, which will be addressed in a future series on the various types of meditation.
Traditionally, meditation is practiced while sitting on the floor.
This position can help us feel grounded and centered, because our bodies are directly connected to the floor. However, this can be a very uncomfortable position for those who experience chronic pain, for pregnant women (I could not sit on the floor for long periods of time when pregnant with my second daughter), or other conditions. On the other hand, if our practice is brief, perhaps 5-10 minutes each day, this may be an ideal pose.
There will always be traditionalists who will say that sitting on the floor is the ultimate meditation position, and that one should learn to live with the discomfort. The goal of this blog post is to help people begin and maintain a daily meditation practice, so I want you to be comfortable.
Pain is not a requirement to meditate, which is why cushions and other supports have been developed for personal use.
Thankfully, there are a variety of supportive cushions that can be used during meditation, such as the zafu and the zabuton.
The zafu is a round Japanese cushion (with origins from China), which provides support by elevating the hips. It is traditionally used in Zen meditation, but anyone can benefit from a cushion while sitting on the floor.
The zabuton is a soft rectangular Japanese cushion. It provides support to the knees, but does not elevate the hips. Many people choose to use a zafu with a zabuton to support both the hips and knees while sitting on the floor.
This zafu and zabuton set, Zafu and Zabuton Meditation cushion set by Bean Products, is currently available on Amazon, and it’s the set I’m purchasing for my own practice. I love their color options (they even have camo), and I’m happy to support a product that is made in the USA.
I currently use a large soft cushion when I meditate on the floor. It has been a good meditation companion for the past six months, but I am looking into buying a zafu and zabuton set for a more supported seat.
If sitting on the floor is not your preference, using a chair is an excellent alternative. A chair can provide great back support and reduce any pain or discomfort as we practice our meditation.
I like to use a chair when I participate in a weekly online meditation group, since each meeting lasts about an hour.
When choosing a chair best for your practice, find one that allows your feet to be flat on the floor. This can provide a grounded feeling, without having to sit directly on the floor.
A note on posture
When sitting in a chair for meditation, it helps to check our posture before we begin. Sit up straight, but do not stiffen your back. Muscles should not be held too tight or contracted. Find the happy medium that works for you and move around in the chair a little. It also helps to place your hands gently on your lap before beginning to meditate to physically set your intention to practice.
An alternative to sitting cross-legged on the floor or sitting on a chair is kneeling on the floor. The Japanese call this position seiza. To kneel comfortably, a zabuton, a zafu, or a meditation bench can be used as support.
A meditation bench provides correct spine alignment and protects the ankles while kneeling. Learn more about meditation benches from Organic Daily Post.
Personally, I have not attempted to kneel while meditating. It’s worth exploring, however, and I am curious to hear thoughts from those of you who do.
The final option is by far the most relaxing.
Lying down is a wonderful alternative for those with chronic pain. People frequently ask if it is acceptable to meditate lying down in online meditation forums. The question typically generates discussion and controversy, as most questions do on Facebook and other forms of social media.
I see no issue with lying down to meditate. Lying down to meditate can be done on a yoga mat, blanket, or bed. It helps to be flat on your back, arms at your side, with eyes partly open to help maintain alertness. On days when feeling sleepy or drowsy, lying down to meditate may quickly turn into a nap. No judgment here; sometimes the best thing we need is rest.
Your Practice, Your Choice
I hope you can discover the best meditation position for you. I also hope you have learned that there is no “gold standard” position. Make your practice your own.
Jennifer Mazzoni M.S. CCC-SLP, is a full-time mom, part-time Speech Language Pathologist, and she works part-time in a rehabilitation setting. She lives with her husband, two daughters, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel in the Chicago area. Follow her blog, Help Mama Meditate, and catch her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest!
Photos: feature (source), others (author provided)
Editor: Alicia Wozniak
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