One of the most important aspects of a sitting meditation is to be able to sit comfortably, without an aching back, or legs hurting or going to sleep. You can sit in a chair, on a meditation bench, or on a pillow on the floor. Many very great meditators with many years experience use a chair or stool for their meditations. It is not a sign of lack of meditative ability if you are unable to sit comfortably on the floor.
If you are sitting in a chair, sit with your feet flat on the floor and your thighs parallel to the floor. You can put a pillow under your feet if your legs are too short, or a pillow on your seat if your legs are too long. Do not lean against the back of the chair. The idea is to sit with an upright, unsupported spine, but make sure you are relaxed. If you are not used to sitting this way, or if you have back injuries, you can get a firm pillow and put it between your back and the back of the chair.
The feeling you want is that of support, but not leaning into it. Move the pillow around until you achieve this feeling. Relax your shoulders and keep your head parallel to the floor — don’t look up or down. Rest your hands with the palms facing up at the juncture between your thighs and torso. This will help to keep your spine straight.
If you would prefer to sit on the floor, meditation benches are a wonderful invention for making the legs feel comfortable and keeping the spine straight. Finding the right size and height is important. Padding on the seat often helps. Adding small pillows under the knees or ankles might facilitate your comfort also.
Some people are more comfortable sitting cross-legged on a pillow. The crescent-shaped or round-plump pillows are designed to help with this position.
If you sit on the floor, make sure your spine is still straight, your shoulders relaxed, and your head parallel to the floor. If you are sitting cross-legged, make sure you keep your knees close to the floor, because your spine will bend when your knees come up. If you are not flexible enough, choose one of the other options for sitting. Your hands should also be in the same position as on the chair. You may need a blanket to help hold them in the right position.
Where to Meditate
If possible, set aside an area that is used exclusively for meditation. A small room, or a corner of your bedroom — even closet can suffice, as long as it is well ventilated.
Keep it simple. All you really need is a chair or small cushion to sit on, and perhaps a small altar. Face East if possible, and place a wool or silk blanket on the floor to insulate your body from the subtle magnetic currents of the earth.
The place where you meditate should be a little on the cool side with a source of fresh air if possible. Keep a blanket or warm meditation shawl nearby to wrap up in. Get comfortable, but stay awake and ready!
Tomorrow, we’ll send you solutions to common issues that people have in meditation, and will give you a chance to ask your own questions as well.
Joy to You,