Comfortable Sitting Position for Longer Meditation

Question

How can I increase the length of my sitting during meditation? I’m able to sit comfortably for an hour or so after which my knees start to hurt badly and I’ve to shift my legs. Ideally I want to sit for at least 1.5 hours to 2 hours or more. Kindly help me.

—Rajani Iyer, United States

Answer

Dear Rajani,

Most of us, especially for longer meditations, need to pay careful attention to how we sit so that we do not have pain or problems with legs ‘going to sleep’ which is caused by compression of nerves.

It’s common to find that a meditation position that works fine for 20 minutes causes pain after an hour or more. The keys are that our seat allows for a relaxed body and a ‘straight’ spine which means the 3 natural curves of the spine, lumbar, thoracic and cervical, are balanced upon one another. Meditation posture should include chest gently uplifted, head level and centered on the spine, palms turned upward and resting on the thighs, hips above the thighs, and if in a chair feet resting firmly on the floor or a blanket under the feet if feet are dangling. Please take a look at this information on our website on sitting position for meditation Problems with Physical Discomfort When Sitting. If you have a friend who can look at your meditation posture it would help you identify posture problems. Hatha yoga postures are very helpful to strengthen back muscles and increase flexibility for sitting. You might try some if these are not already part of your practice.

Some of us who want to meditate longer have at least two seating choices nearby and when one becomes uncomfortable we move to the other position as inwardly and calmly as possible. Meditation in a chair of proper size is often one of the options. For dedicated meditators attention to a sitting position that supports our meditation efforts is life-long and as our body changes we adjust our seat.

Many Blessings,
Nayaswami Mukti