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Chapter 3: MIDL Formal Seated Meditation


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About Meditation Postures

Mindfulness Meditation is a training of the mind not the body, the Buddha taught that you could meditate walking, standing, sitting or lying down, and everything in between. While there is no magic posture, the way you hold your body does have an effect of the energy flow, comfort and alertness during your meditation practice.

Mindfulness practice can be done walking, standing, sitting or lying down so any posture as long as you are aware of it is good. I have also practiced it on a lounge chair, on a car seat and lying on a bed or floor with great success. The main thing is the continuity of mindfulness for the development of this practice.

The Buddha said: "Furthermore, when walking, the meditator knows, 'I am walking.' When standing, they know, 'I am standing.' When sitting, they know, 'I am sitting.' When lying down, they know, 'I am lying down.' Or however their body is positioned, they hold the knowing of it".

Taking Your Meditation Posture

Seated on the Floor

When sitting on the floor it is important to take a posture that keeps your back straight and that you can maintain for a period of time without moving. Sitting flat on the floor requires a lot of flexibility in the hips, you can test this by sitting flat on the floor, if your knees have trouble touching the ground while your back is straight then you should consider using different props to help with your posture. Props such as a firm cushion under your backside raise your hips off the ground, changing the angle of your legs. This lowers the flexibility needed in the hips to maintain the posture.

posture picture

Instead of crossing your legs I recommend trying the Burmese meditation posture which instead of crossing the legs on top of each other, places one leg in front of the other flat on the floor, this lowers the pressure on your hips and make it easier to attain good body posture.

To this sit down and fold one leg into your body so that the sole of the foot is facing the inside thigh of the other leg, next fold the other leg in front of it. In this way the legs are folded next to each other but not on top of each other, this prevents the pain and numbness that comes from the pressure of one limb pushing against the other.

If this is still difficult and you are determined to sit on the floor you can place a roll between your legs with your legs folded back under you. If this still isn't comfortable then go easy on yourself, get to know your body and what it can and can't do, accept it and then work with what you have, there are other postures just as good like a chair or lying down on the floor.

Lying on the Floor:

When lying on the floor make sure your body is flat, if you have back troubles you can slightly bend your knees and place a bolster under them to help with your backs arch. To keep alertness so that you don't fall asleep have your arms loose by your sides and always have the palms facing upwards as this will help with the energy flow. It is also an unusual posture for most of us and so helps ward off the biggest enemy of this posture - falling asleep.

Your meditation can also be done lying on a bed, this is useful if you wish to use meditation to help you fall asleep. If this is not your intent then being over comfortable should be avoided when you first learn meditation otherwise asleep is where you will spend most of your time. Your posture should help instil alertness yet be comfortable enough to hold for the length of time you are meditating, without moving.

Sitting on a Chair:

When sitting in a chair do not lean back against the back rest, this will cause your back to slump and lead to discomfort and a drop in energy levels. Instead see if you can sit towards the front of the chair, as in the picture, and slightly rotate your hip forward. Your forearms and hands can sit gently on your legs, make sure your head is not slumped but evenly balanced.

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Chapter 3 Continued

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This article was written by Stephen Procter, Meditation Instructor from Meditation in The Shire, Kirrawee NSW, Australia. If you wish to post this article on another website or in a publication please respect the author and reference / link back to this website, thank you

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