How to Sit Comfortably

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. If you are in pain or great discomfort, the only thing you will be meditating on is that! Options for sitting are in a chair, or on a meditation bench, or on a pillow on the floor. Most westerners are not trained from birth to sit comfortably on a hard floor. So a chair is probably best for most of us, beginners or otherwise-and 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 in the lotus posture or any other floor sitting position.

Chair Sitting

Get a fairly straight-backed chair and sit forward in the chair so that both feet are flat on the floor. If your feet do not touch the floor, get a shorter chair or place a pillow or two under your feet to raise them so that your thighs are parallel to the floor. Do not lean against the back of the chair! The idea is to sit with an upright, un-supported spine. However, if you are not used to sitting this way, or if you have weak neck/back muscles or injuries, there are ways to overcome this challenge. Get a firm pillow of some sort (the crescent shaped ones are very good for this) 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. If you want to place a pillow in the seat of the chair, to cushion a too hard surface, that is fine. Meditate for short periods of time in the beginning and work up to longer amounts of time. This way your back muscles will strengthen gradually. Yoga stretches and other such exercises also strengthen your back muscles with time and regular practice.

Floor Sitting

Meditation benches are a wonderful invention for making the legs feel comfortable and un-pressured and keeping the spine up-right. 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. If you have never tried a bench, please be sure to experiment with one. 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.

Experiment!

Have a chair, lots of pillows, a bench and whatever else you want to try. When one position becomes tiresome, calmly switch to another. Eventually you’ll find the best one for your body-type. Remember everybody’s body is different.

A Blanket or Two

Many yogis recommend sitting on a wool rug, blanket, or piece of silk. Also the place you meditate should be a little on the cool side with a source of fresh air if possible. Thus another blanket or warm meditation shawl should be handy to wrap up in. The body does cool down a bit when you sit still for a while, so a wrap is often important to maintain an even body temperature. Get comfortable, but stay awake and ready!

5 Comments

  1. I recently injured my knee and can’t kneel, do a lot of the energizing exercises and I’m supposed to sit with my injured leg elevated thus even a chair position doesn’t keep my back straight the way you describe. What do you suggest?

  2. Can I lie down to meditate? I cannot sit for more than a few minutes due to medical/sickness problems.I would very much appreciate some advice.
    Thank you. Peace to all.

    1. Hi Stewart, in a situation like that, I would say yes, definitely.

      I used to meditate lying down when I had a lot of back pain. I’d meditate for about 15 minutes sitting and then spend another half-hour meditating lying down. But once I was able to finally sit up for the whole meditation, I found that it made a world of difference.

      Lying down, our mind tends to (from habit) go into a subconscious state — not at all what meditation is intended to do. Staying upright helps keep our mind alert and our energy clearer and more focused.

      But like I said, if there’s no alternative, go for it. You can still find a lot of benefit. Also, experiment, if you haven’t done so already. Maybe there are ways to meditate sitting up that aren’t so obvious.

      Since other people may read this as well, I’ll link to this answer by Nayaswami Savitri for someone who asked a similar question, who expands a little bit more on the topic:
      Hong-Sau lying down?

  3. In the course of the meditation, I feel scratches in – between my eyebrows, as if insects are moving inside the flesh. I also see Bright light and inside it, is a smaller black round object. Sometimes, when I’m moving about, I see a very small bright light in seconds, and then it disappears. What are these signals? And am I on the right track?

  4. i m fatty liver deseases patient from 5 months how could meditate help to heal

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