for Sitting Meditation
Sitting postures - demonstrated
The first step in finding a balanced sitting posture
is to rest the awareness on the various sitting touch points, softening
onto the support given by the cushion/chair.
balanced, alert posture is then brought about by scanning the body
in order to "relax upwards" (you may have noticed how
a 5 year old sits up in a balanced way without effort). Allow the
head to balance freely on the spine, checking that the head is not
pulled back or fixed. Allow the chin to drop so that the eyes and
ears are at about the same level.
sitting on the floor, use cushion(s) so that the knees are below
the hips and in contact with the floor (otherwise the back will
be collapsed) or else use a chair with a firm base (not a sofa).
radiating loving-kindness above and below and in all directions
around you to check that you are not holding or contracting in the
front or the back , etc. Check that the breathing is free and easy
- any restriction indicates a fixed posture.
is useful to spend 5 minutes scanning the body in this way. Note
that there is no such thing as "perfect posture" and postural
aches will come and go as a natural part of the unfolding practice.
If pain becomes overwhelming or is a signal of injury, mindfully
adjust the posture after noting the various sensations. However,
as concentration develops, sensations of hotness, stiffness and
itchiness will arise as part of the contemplation of feeling/sensation
and it is important to note them mindfully without fidgeting.
ideal is an upright, alert posture. Slumping only increases the
pressure on the legs and discomfort in the back. It is important
to attend to your posture with wisdom, not insensitive will-power.
Posture will improve with time, but you need to work with
the body, not use force against it. Use a small firm cushion
underneath and toward the back of the buttocks to support the angle
of the hips.
you have a lot of pain during a period of sitting, change posture,
sit on a small stool or chair, or stand up for a while.
- Are the hips
leaning back? This will cause a slump.
- The small
of the back should have its natural, unforced curve so that the
abdomen is forward and 'open'.
- Imagine that
someone is gently pushing between the shoulder blades, while keeping
the muscles relaxed.
- Note, and
gently release, any tension in the neck/shoulder region.
for Sitting Meditation:
a comfortable, upright balanced posture. Then on the basis of working
from the gross to the subtle, from the body to the mind, feel the
touch sensations of hardness or softness from the body's contact
(earth element). This anchors the attention to the body, especially
when assisted by the mental label of 'touching','touching'.
Then tune into
the natural rise and fall movement of the lower abdomen, making
a mental note or label of 'rising', 'rising' concurrent
with the upward movement, and 'falling', 'falling' with
the downward movement. This gives you a reference point or primary
object to establish the attention on.
on the movement of the abdomen as a base be wary of clinging to
it. When secondary object arises, such as thinking, sensations or
mind-states, they too must be noted until they disappear. Only then,
if nothing else takes your attention, return to noting the rising
and falling movement of the abdomen as your primary object; but
always be prepared to attend to secondary objects (sensations, feelings,
mind-states and thinking) as they arise.
is important to be alert to the specific characteristics of the
various elements under observation. For example, the series of sensations
from the abdomen movement (wind element) or the specific
characteristics found in pain such as heat, throbbing, etc. (fire
element). Try the traditional sitting posture as it is helpful
in intense practice; it gives the right environmental conditions
and allows for a fine focus on the body's elements and subtle mind