How to Sit to Meditate: a Beginner's guide
"I gotta level with you Thom, meditation is way out there! I see mandalas and chakras and people twisted up like pretzels. I could never do that"
Meditation is overwhelming for so many people; and do you know what one of the most intimidating aspect of meditation is? Sitting. Not sitting in silence. Not sitting without your mind wandering. I am talking about the simple act of sitting with correct posture.
By the time you get done reading this, you are going to be a pro at sitting for meditation. How do I know that? Because you are already doing it.
The Lotus position is not the only way
Everyone thinks that to meditate correctly, you need to be able to fold your legs into each other, rest the backs of your hands on their respective knees and have your thumbs and middle fingers touching.
That posture is seen everywhere, and it's called the lotus position. I have to tell you that I would imagine one of the main reasons people shy away from meditation is because of that image, that perception of posture. It makes the practice seem "woo-woo" or intimidating.
That image of posture is everywhere. Don't believe me? Do a google search for "images of people sitting on floor meditating" and see what comes up. There are some variations, but for the most part, it is the position I just talked about.
It absolutely is a posture for meditation, and obviously a popular one. However, it is not the only one. Why am I not a fan of seeing that posture displayed everywhere? Because people who don't know meditation think that if they cannot get into that position, they are not meditating correctly and therefore shouldn't do it.
How to sit to meditate; no flexibility required
Wanna know a secret? I have been meditating for over 35 years and I haven't sat like that once! I'm not lying. I can't get into that position. I am a guy that works out 6 days a week. Humbly speaking, I have too much muscle and lack flexibility in my legs to be able to sit that way. I would imagine other people that workout might have the same problem. So would people who are overweight or possibly have bad backs.
But when I say that anyone can meditate; I mean it. If you are overweight, inflexible (body-wise) or have lower back issues, you can meditate...and should.
Let me explain the the best way to sit to meditate if you are unable to get into the lotus position, or just don't want to.
The goal is to find a position that allows you to be comfortable, yet attentive, so puffy couches are out. Everything else will work though. Let me explain how to sit in a way that facilitates a beneficial session.
Find a comfortable chair that is not too comfortable. Here is the first thing to know. You can either find a chair with a solid back or simply choose not to use the back of the chair when you meditate. The chair can be upholstered, but it needs to have some support to it.
Sit so that height of the chair allows your feet to be flat on the floor, with your legs bent at a 90 degree angle. Many people choose to sit on the edge of the seat.
Raise your chest slightly, bringing your shoulders back just a little, while also allowing them to be loose.
Most importantly, for comfort and attention, you should place a gentle arch in your back. Next, The Yoga Journal explains perfectly how your head should be.
"Slightly tuck in your chin. You don’t want to go so far that you are looking directly down at your lap but you don’t want your head held so far upwards that it may tire you out."
That's it! Pretty simple right? You guessed it. You don't need to be in the lotus position to meditate.
Sit, lay down or walk; just meditate
Lastly, you can sit in any chair you choose, however, the posture I just described, allows you to meditate for longer without stiffness or discomfort. And more importantly, you are just attentive enough so that you will not fall asleep. However, I would much rather have you sit anyway you want and meditate, than to not meditate at all.
I don't want anything to get in your way. I want you to realize that despite the somewhat "unconventional images" that you see when you research meditation, it truly is, quite simple, ordinary and very helpful.
One last thing. Do me a favor and leave me a comment below about this post or anything that you have a question about in regards to meditation. I am here for you.