It can take a lot of trial and error to find an effective meditation posture. Often we have to go through periods of discomfort before we can learn to sit comfortably.
The importance of posture, however, goes well beyond finding a way to sit comfortably, because the way we hold the body has a profound effect on the emotions and mental states that we experience. Something as subtle as the angle that you hold your chin at affects how much thinking you do. Having the wrong angle of your seat can lead to interference with the way you breathe, and can lead to feelings of tiredness or even depression.
In this section we explain how to use your body effectively in meditation, so that you can relax and at the same time develop alertness. Although relaxation and alertness may appear at first to be opposites, they can in fact coexist during a meditative state, and are characteristic of a state of mindfulness.
We’ll explain how it’s a myth that you need to be able to get into lotus position in order to meditate effectively. There are other ways to sit, including kneeling, and in fact you can meditate while sitting in a chair or while using a meditation bench.
It’s even possible to meditate while lying down, although the results are not usually very good for this particular posture and so it should only be used when absolutely necessary, as when there are injuries that prevent any other posture from being used.
In this posture workshop we’ll take you through the whole process of setting up your posture, including what to sit on, the importance of supporting your hands, the angle of the head, and some basic trouble-shooting tips.
We’d like to acknowledge the kindness of Windhorse Publications, who allowed us to use illustrations from Meditation: The Buddhist Way of Tranquillity and Insight, by Kamalashila (now republished as Buddhist Meditation: Tranquillity, Imagination and Insight) in this section of the site.
Use the links in the menu on the left to explore different aspects of meditation posture.