If you’re getting started with meditation it can be hard to find a comfortable seat.
Take a moment to think about all the things you think are true about meditation…
Maybe you think something like:
- I need to be perfectly still.
- I need to sit upright with a long spine.
- I have to quiet my thoughts.
- I have to sit cross legged and feel calm.
And while you’re thinking all these things, another thought might pop up: “But I am not good at this”.
I had all of these thoughts before I went to my first meditation class. I sat down and got pins and needles after 10 minutes. My mind was spinning like crazy, and I thought that this just wasn’t for me. I envied everybody else, who seemed so perfectly at peace with this world and themselves.
Luckily I met Charlotte, my teacher who helped me to work through all of these thoughts and find different approaches to meditation. How to sit in meditation is the first step. So here are my thoughts.
- If sitting still is a new experience for your body, start with a short amount of time. Sit for a minute, then for two, and eventually for 5 minutes, and see what happens in the body. If you wanted to try running you wouldn’t go for a half-marathon straight away, right? Give your body some time to adjust.
- Sitting still can highlight tensions we hold in the body but normally don’t notice. If that’s the case for you and your back or shoulders start to ache, try to soften that area when you exhale. Let the muscles there relax.
- If during the meditation an area in the body needs to move or change position slightly, that’s fine. You don’t “have to” sit 100% still. There is always movement in the body anyway. Your breath is moving your body from the inside out; the movement just gets more subtle. With practice you will feel this rhythm that moves you, and maybe you can find a swinging, gentle movement in your meditation posture that brings you ease.
Let’s talk about the physical position you can choose for your meditation:
- First of all: you can sit on a chair. Our bodies are used to chairs, so why not give yourself a hand and start by choosing something your body knows already. If you choose to sit on a chair, see if you can sit on the front edge and keep your back away from the back of the chair. Have your feet on the floor and your hands resting on your lap.
- Cross-legged: probably the most popular meditation position is cross-legged on the floor. I recommend sitting on something like a double-folded cushion to lift your hips a bit higher up. If you feel a stretch around your hip area you should think about putting cushions underneath your knees to support your legs. Your position should be as comfortable as possible; your body shouldn’t be dealing with any stretch or struggle in meditation.
- Kneeling: This is my favourite meditation position. You can use a cushion between your feet and pelvis to take some pressure off your feet. You can also use a couple of yoga blocks: put them between your legs on the floor, so your sitting bones are on the blocks and your knees are on the ground. Whatever you choose, it should be at least 15-30cm high. Your hands can rest flat on your thighs.
You can find a little video of me showing some meditation postures below. Give yourself some time to practise. It will get easier with time.