Mind and body are closely interrelated. In meditation the posture of the body has an important effect on the mind and vice-versa. It is important to support the body in a stable way. When sitting adopt an erect and dignified posture, with you head, neck, and back aligned vertically and shoulders relaxed. This is the physical counterpart of the inner attitudes of confidence, self-acceptance, patience, and alert attention that we are cultivating.
When taking your place for a sitting meditation, whether you are on a supported chair, on cushions on the floor or a stool, it is important that you have three points of stable contact. Your buttocks and your two feet or your buttocks and your two knees. This gives stability.
Experiment with the different positions and seating heights I discuss below and find one which suits you best. Whilst it is important that you are comfortable in order to meditate, it is natural to initially experience some discomfort if your muscles are not used to sitting in this way. Be patient with yourself, and try to balance persevering with the practice whilst bringing a gentle kindness to yourself. The aim is to find and cultivate a relaxed ad upright posture which will support your meditation.
Setting up an inviting space to meditate supports an additional opportunity to take care of your wellbeing.
Choose a chair that has a straight back and that allows your feet to be flat on the floor. If at all possible, sit away from the back of the chair so that your spine is self-supporting. Ideally your knees should be lower than your buttocks so that the pelvis is tilted forward and allows your back to align properly. You might try sitting on a foam wedge or put a small cushion on your seat.
You can sit on a firm thick cushion (or pillow folded over twice) which raises your buttock off the floor three to six inches. Draw one heel closer to the body and drape the other leg in front of it. The back of the cushion should be a little higher than the front, so you sit at an angle with your pelvis dropped, and your knees lower than your buttocks. It is best if your knees can actually touch the floor, but if they don’t quite touch, try putting a small cushion under one or both knees to give you the 3 points stability.
If when sitting on a cushion your knees don’t reach the floor at all, you may be better straddling two or more cushions between your legs. You will experience greater stability with your buttocks on the cushions, and your knees and lower legs and tops of the feet resting on the floor.
You can also use a kneeling stool with an angles seat. It helps to be kneeling on the floor and bringing the stool underneath you to sit. Try out different sizes and find one that suits you. You can adjust your posture on the stool by bringing the seat nearer or further away from the fold of your knees. Having an exercise mat underneath you will give greater comfort and protection.
It is entirely possible to do the meditations lying down on the floor. Lying on the floor on an exercise mat is ideal, this gives you a little bit of cushioning and encourages wakefulness for the practice as if you’re too comfortable you may fall asleep. Blankets are useful in not just je-helping you maintain a a stable body temperature but can also be rolled under the knee joins to give additional support. A lightly folded blanket or towel for raising the head slightly may give your neck more support if you experience difficulties in this area.