Meditation Position: A Beginner's Guide

how to get in meditation position

Getting into a meditation position is all about finding what works for you. The aim is to be relaxed yet alert, so you don't want to be uncomfortable or in any pain. Sitting is considered the optimal position as it provides a balance of focus and relaxation, but standing, lying down, and walking are also valid options.

If you're sitting, you want your spine to be straight, your chin tucked in slightly, and your shoulders relaxed and back. Your knees should be below your hips, and you can use a cushion or blanket to achieve this. Your hands can rest on your thighs or in your lap. If you're sitting on the floor, you can try a simple cross-legged pose, or one of the more advanced lotus variations. If you're using a chair, sit near the front with your legs uncrossed and your feet flat on the floor.

If you're standing, your feet should be hip-width apart, with your knees slightly bent. You can rest your hands by your sides or place them together in front of your chest.

If you're lying down, lie on your back with your legs apart and your arms by your sides, palms up.

If you're walking, start at a slow pace and be mindful of the sensation of your feet lifting off the ground, moving through the air, and making contact again.

Characteristics Values
Sitting position Cross-legged, on a chair, on the floor, or in lotus position
Lying down Arms by your side, palms facing up, legs apart
Standing Feet hip-width apart, hands by your sides or together in front of the chest
Walking Slow pace, mindful of the sensation of feet lifting off the ground

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Sitting in a chair

To get started, find a chair that doesn't invite you to slouch. An ordinary dining room or office chair will do. If you tend to sink into your favourite armchair, perhaps opt for something that will better support your upright position.

Once you've found your chair, you may want to raise the back legs by about an inch or so (2.0 to 2.5 cm). This will help you to sit upright without needing to hold your back rigidly or lean against the back of the chair. You can use blocks of wood or even old phone books to do this.

Next, sit towards the edge of the chair. If you need a little extra support, 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 to help you keep your back straight and your head and neck aligned with your spine. Just be sure not to lean back—you want to keep your body alert and your mind focused.

Now, rest your hands on your thighs, palms down, or in your lap, palms up. If you have a long back, you may need a cushion on your lap to support your hands.

Finally, place your feet flat on the floor. If your feet don't reach, rest them on a folded blanket or a phone book.

And there you have it—you're now in the perfect position to start your meditation practice. Remember, the most important thing is to be comfortable so that you can focus on your meditation without being distracted by any aches or pains. Happy meditating!

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Easy cross-legged pose

If you're just starting out, use a meditation cushion or pillow. Sit on the front half of the cushion or pillow, bend your knees in front of you, then rotate your knees out to either side, sitting in a cross-legged position. Bring your left heel to the inside of your right thigh, and your right heel to lightly touch the top of your left foot, ankle, or calf, so it sits slightly in front of you. The sides of your knees may touch the ground, and if they don't, you can use pillows or blankets under your knees for extra support.

If you're sitting on a hard floor, a rug or blanket under your feet will cushion your ankles. If sitting cross-legged bothers your knees, stretch your legs out in front of you.

Whichever sitting 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 on the legs or in the lap.

Remember, if your seat isn’t comfortable, the rest of your body will tense up, and that will make meditating difficult. The key is to explore different positions until you find one that allows you to meditate for longer periods without physical discomfort.

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Sitting on the floor with legs and ankles folded

Sitting on the floor with your legs and ankles folded in front of you is also known as the Burmese position. This is a simple and accessible pose for most people, similar to the classic cross-legged position.

To get into this position, sit with both legs folded in front of you, one in front of the other, so your ankles are stacked. If you are struggling to keep a straight spine, place a cushion under your seat to elevate your hips and ease the pressure on your legs.

If you are sitting on a hard floor, a rug or blanket under your feet will cushion your ankles. You can also lean against a wall or sturdy piece of furniture if that helps.

Remember, the most important thing is to be comfortable. If you are uncomfortable, you won't want to meditate.

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Sitting in lotus position

Sitting in the lotus position is an advanced meditation pose that is not suitable for beginners. It requires a good amount of flexibility in the hips, knees, and ankles, and it may be uncomfortable or even cause injury if you are not careful.

If you want to try the lotus position, first make sure you have the necessary flexibility by practising hip-opening poses such as:

  • Half Lotus (Ardha Padmasana)
  • Bound Angle/Cobbler's Pose (Baddha Konasana)
  • Hero Pose (Virasana)
  • Head-of-Knee Pose (Janu Sirsasana)
  • Half Lord of the Fishes Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana)

To get into the full lotus position:

  • Begin seated in Dandasana (Staff Pose) with your legs extended forward.
  • Press forward with your big toe mounds and draw back with the outer border of each foot.
  • Engage your spinal muscles to elongate and activate your spine.
  • Maintain your left leg in Dandasana and bend your right knee, externally rotating from deep in your hip socket so your knee falls open to the right.
  • Take your right ankle in your left hand, holding from below so your palm faces up.
  • Support your right outer knee with your right hand and bring your leg into a Figure 4 position with your shin parallel to your torso.
  • Repeat the Dandasana foot actions with your right foot, pressing into your big toe mound and drawing the pinky toe side of your foot back.
  • Maintaining the external rotation in your hip, start to draw your right heel toward your navel, increasing the flexion of your knee and gently swinging your knee forward and down toward your midline.
  • Allow your left leg to fall open and place your right foot in your left groin with your heel to the left of your pubis.
  • Lean back slightly and begin to bend your left knee, drawing your left foot toward your right knee.
  • Clasp your left ankle from below with your right hand (palm up) and carefully swing your left knee toward your midline.
  • Place your left heel in your right groin with your left heel to the right of your pubis.
  • Press into your big toe mounds to help draw your knees closer together, then release that action.
  • Rest your hands on your knees, palms up, then draw them back slightly to align the heads of your upper arms with your side body.
  • Engage your spinal muscles, drawing your sacrum in and up toward your navel and lifting and opening your chest.
  • Stack the crown of your head directly over your pelvis and soften your gaze.

You can hold this pose for 5–10 breaths and then release. Remember to repeat on the other side. If you experience any pain or discomfort, stop and try a different pose.

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Kneeling position

Kneeling is a meditation position that can help you generate a sense of tranquility and clarity of mind. This position is one of the options for zazen, a Zen Buddhist meditation.

To get into the kneeling meditation position, you can follow these steps:

  • Find a comfortable spot on the floor. You may want to use a mat or a rug to cushion your knees.
  • Place a cushion or two under your bottom to support your spine and take the pressure off your knees.
  • Kneel with your knees shoulder-width apart and your weight supported on your heels. You can also use a meditation bench or a cushion (called a zafu) between your legs for support.
  • Relax your arms and place your hands on your thighs or knees.
  • Gently lengthen your spine, keeping its natural curve without overextending or slouching.
  • Keep your neck relaxed and your head level, looking forward, with your chin gently tucked in to relieve any pressure on your neck.

If you experience any discomfort in your knees or find it challenging to keep your spine straight while kneeling, you can modify the position by placing cushions under your knees for support or trying another meditation pose that feels more comfortable.

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Frequently asked questions

The best meditation position is one that makes you feel relaxed and alert. Sitting is considered the optimal position as it provides a balance of focus and relaxation. However, the most important thing is to find a position that works for you and your body.

Examples of good meditation positions include sitting in a chair, easy cross-legged pose (sukhasana), sitting on the floor with your legs and ankles folded in front of you (Burmese position), and kneeling.

If you are consciously focusing your attention—whether it's on your breath, an affirmation, or the present moment—you are meditating. Over time, you will likely notice an increased ability to focus, and greater feelings of calm and clarity.

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