When we practice meditation we need to be comfortable while maintaining a good posture. If you are too comfortable like lying in your bed you may fall asleep and if you force yourself into a posture that you are not capable of sitting in then you will simply get irritated and distracted.
The most important feature of the meditation posture is to keep our back straight and to be comfortable. To help us do this, if we are sitting on a cushion we make sure that the back of the cushion is slightly higher than the front which will rotate your pelvis over and prevent slouching. If you are unable to sit on a cushion on the floor we should choose to sit on a chair or something that will help keep your hips forward to prevent slouching.
It is not necessary at first to sit cross-legged, but it is a good idea to become accustomed to sitting in a crossed leg position. If we cannot hold this posture at all or for long we should sit in one which is as close to this as possible while remaining comfortable.
The eight features of a good meditation posture
1 The legs are crossed which helps to reduce thoughts and feelings of uncontrolled desire. If we are sitting on a chair, ensure that the feet are flat on the floor and placed side by side.
2 The right hand is placed in the left hand, palms upwards, fingers parallel, with the tips of the thumbs touching gently. You can either place the hands in your lap or keep them hovering just above your pants line while resting on your stomach. Some people also like to put their hands facing downwards and cupping the knees or upwards on their knees while touching the tips of their pointer fingers and thumbs.
3 The back is straight but not tense. This helps us to develop and maintain a clear mind and to be alert and not fall asleep.
4 The lips and teeth are kept in their natural position but the tongue touch the back of the upper teeth. This prevents us from salivating excessively and also prevents our mouths from becoming too dry.
5 The head is tilted slightly forward while the chin is tucked slightly in. If your chin and head hang too far over the chest your neck will become tense and you may simultaneously start feeling sleepy. If your head is tilted backwards and your chin points upwards your mind may become too excited and distracted.
6 The eyes are gently closed while allowing a tiny bit of light in. If the eyes are wide open we are likely to develop too many thoughts and distractions and if they are closed our meditation is likely to become dull and we may even fall asleep. Many people find it easy to meditate with their eyes closed. If you do choose to do this and feel sleepy, simply open them to let a little bit of light in, and then close them again.
7 The shoulders should be relaxed and level and the arms are held slightly away from the body to allow air to circulate.
8 Above all, you should be comfortable and in a position that does not relax you too much or make you focus too much on your posture. Comfortable enough not to be agitated or in pain and not to fall asleep or become dull.
I suggest that you experiment with your own posture. Try sitting on a chair if your back hurts or if your hips hurt. Prop yourself up with pillows and do not strain yourself with your posture.
If you are striving for a perfect posture, your mind will become tight and agitated easily. Similarly, if you are careless and sloppy, your mind will follow suit. On the other side of the scale, if you lie down and cozy up under a blanket your mind may also just fall asleep. Try find a balance between comfort and perfection.
Try smiling and not feeling some form of happiness. Try frowning and pulling a sad face without feeling some form of negativity. What we do with our body has a direct effect on our mind and hearts. Suit up and get into the most appropriate posture you can to prepare your mind and heart from all the angles you possibly can.
Associating meditation with a particular posture helps your mind get into the right place when you sit in your meditation posture. If you are sitting uncomfortably and your posture hurts you or irritates you, just relax. Do not push and strive for any form of perfection regarding the posture. As long as you are comfortable to the extent that you can be focused and not fall asleep you will do just fine.
Use how you feel as a measurement of the success of your posture. If you are feeling alert and focused and do not fall asleep easily but are not in a perfect posture, don’t try fix that which is not broken. Let your feelings and sensations guide you. Let go of any need to sit correctly if it in any way agitates you.