During your meditation practices you will be guiding your mind toward increased awareness and compassion for yourself, so you don’t want to begin your practices feeling distracted, uncomfortable or in unnecessary pain. Therefore, the first step of your practice is finding a comfortable position. As with most things in life, there’s no one-size-fits-all, so for the purposes of this course, we’ll look at variations in sitting and lying down postures. I encourage you to explore these options at the beginning of each practice session seeing what’s most appropriate for your body, as your needs may change from day to day.
Throughout this course, you will be invited to explore several body postures for sitting to lying down while engaging with formal mindfulness practices. In this segment, I will explain your options. It will be useful to have a meditation cushion, chair, yoga mat, and blanket with you as you watch this explanation so you can follow along. The invitation is feel into your body as a way to explore the positions.
If, for physical reasons, you are unable to adopt any of these postures, it is okay. Do what you can, exploring the soft edges, which is the space between pushing too hard and not investigating what the body is capable of.
Sitting in a chair
Begin by sitting in a straight back chair with your legs uncrossed, feet planted solidly on the floor, and your arms and hands resting either on the legs or in the lap. Try not to lean against the back of the chair, rather sit in the middle of the chair. If it helps, place a cushion or folded blanket under your sitting bones to tilt your hips forward. You can also put a pillow behind your lower back for support to help keep your back naturally straight (not arched or hunched) and your head and neck aligned with your spine. The idea is to set yourself up so you’re comfortable, yet alert while maintaining your posture.
Sitting on a cushion or blanket on the floor
Sit on a cushion or a folded blanket so your knees are lower than your hips. If you’re sitting on a hard floor, a rug or blanket under your feet will cushion your ankles. If it helps, put a soft pillow or two behind your lower back to make sure your spine is straight and in an upright position. If sitting cross-legged bothers your knees, stretch your legs out in front of you.
Sitting on a meditation bench or straddling a cushion
Bend your knees and lay your shins flat on the ground. Sitting on a meditation bench or straddling a cushion, sit back towards your heels and lengthen your spine.
To ensure you have good posture you might try puffing out your chest to lower your shoulders back and down, lightly tucking your chin, and keeping your hips neutral.
Lying down on a mat or a blanket on the floor
Lie on your back with your legs about hip-width apart, toes relaxed and falling to the side, arms extended alongside your body, palms turned up. If it feels more comfortable, try placing a thin pillow under your head and/or behind bending your knees or turning your palms down
Whichever meditation position you choose, the posture pointers are the same: the back is straight yet relaxed, the head and neck are aligned over the spine, and the arms rest either by the sides, on the legs or in the lap. When it comes to your hand positions during meditation, you can either place them on the legs, palms down, or in your lap, palms up, or one hand resting in the other.