Regardless of spiritual identity – or even a lack of one – more and more people are taking up meditation as a regular habit.
Some do it to feel more of a connection with their religious or spiritual self. Others feel like the practice will be beneficial to their mental health. Some people just want a break from their everyday rush and get their five or fifteen minutes of peace through meditation.
In the same way that people meditate for a wide variety of reasons, people will also do it in ways that suit them individually. Sometimes, this will be because of the different amounts of practice people have put into it. Other times, it will simply be because different methods suit different people.
In order to know what’s going to be best for you, a good place to start is knowing your options.
ON A CHAIR
Meditating on a chair is a good position for beginners and for anyone who is unsuited to remaining upright for significant periods of time, for instance if you don’t get a lot of exercise or if you suffer from muscle pain. Generally, a wooden chair is considered better than upholstered or padded one because it aids with proper spinal position, though no practitioners have a problem with a cushion for comfort. It is also advised to keep your knees below waist height.
It is common practice in spiritual doctrines across Japan and Egypt to meditate in a kneeling position. It naturally lends itself to a straight-backed posture. In order to prevent the lower half of your body going numb, some practitioners will advise placing a cushion in between the backs of your legs.
Aptly named for its simplicity, the ‘easy position’ is simply sitting cross legged. It is the most basic position to sit in, but is not commonly recommended as it is unlikely to help keep your back straight. It’s common for beginners to use this until they gain more flexibility in their legs to move to more complicated cross legged positions.
This is one of those slightly more flexible positions that can take some getting used to, though it is easier for beginners than any lotus position. It originated in Southeast Asia. The calves and feet need to be flat on the floor, with one foot in front of the other. It’s important to be careful when attempting this for the first time, to ensure that you don’t do any damage to your joints.
This is a more advanced position and a step on the way up to the full lotus. Beginning with a cross legged position, lift your feet up and rest them on the calves of the opposite leg. As with other cross legged postures, it lends itself well to an erect spinal position and it is advised that you sit on a cushion rather than directly on a solid floor.
Just one small step away from the famous full lotus now, this position calls for one foot to be placed on the thigh of the opposite leg with the other foot beneath the other thigh. This encourages your limbs to become flexible enough to eventually attempt a full lotus. It is advised that you practice with each leg in both positions alternately to enable your spine to remain rigid and not get used to tilting to one side.
This is the most commonly depicted meditative position and requires practitioners to be quite flexible, at least in the leg and hips. One step up from the half lotus, you sit cross legged with each foot resting on the thigh of the opposite leg. This is the posture that the most accomplished practitioners will use and its consistent development is evidence of a well cultivated body and mind.
Author Bio – Kirstie Summers is journalist whose day job takes her to all the most interesting places and events in South London. She also freelances for a number of sites and publications, from gaming and literature reviews to creative fiction. She lives in London and spends as much of her free time as possible making the most of being in such a diverse city. She keeps one day a week to herself to swim, relax and keep the stress of the world at bay.