Beat Stress With Meditation: Positions
by Naomi Ozaniec
Meditation is undeniably associated with particular body positions, most especially the sitting cross-legged positions known as the full or half lotus. This idea is quite daunting to most westerners who will find such positions impossible. However, it is quite wrong to believe that such positions are essential in order to practise meditation. These sitting positions, though perfectly suited to long periods of meditation, have evolved in monastic settings and cannot be simply transported to a western lifestyle. Forcing the body into difficult positions is against the gentleness of spirit which meditation seeks to foster. A kneeling position is often suggested but this also requires considerable flexibility to be comfortable. It is perfectly acceptable to sit on a chair with the spine upright, the hands loosely cupped in the lap, the feet flat on the floor, the head tilted slightly forwards and the eyelids lowered and the gaze inwards. This position, which suits anyone, is comfortable, easily maintained and brings a sense of stillness, balance and calm.
Posture needs to provide a foundation upon which meditation can take place. Constantly seeking to readjust an uncomfortable position is just distracting; discomfort has no value. Keeping the spine upright is important and mindfully making small adjustments to posture is part of being self-aware. Lying down, or sitting in a soft armchair is not advised.
Even though there are many varied postures for meditation, including different hand positions, these belong to quite specific traditions and practices. There is no need to feel obliged to struggle with yogic positions designed for different situations. Put your mind at rest, modern meditation classes provide chairs.