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Preparation

Correct Sitting Position and Posture Equals Relaxation

A prerequisite for meditation is a relaxed body.  “Until the body is relaxed, the mind will not relax and meditation will remain elusive.”

Dependent on relaxation is the correct sitting position that is right for your body.  Every person has different length legs, trunk and arms.  Additionally, variable flexibility will mean that a sitting position that is good  for one will not be suitable for another.  Flexibility can be improved by yoga, pilates and Tai Qi which are also good for general health but at any given time, it is best to work with the limitations of your body to find the best comfortable position that will allow you to relax and so to meditate.  Relaxation is dependent on the following factors:

Sitting Position: the types used are typically he full or half lotus, where both or one ankle is placed upon the opposite thigh.  Another way is to place one leg on top of the other so the lower legs are like logs stack on one another.  Sitting cross-legged in the conventional fashion is acceptable too.  The aim is to have the points of contact with the ground limited to the two knees and the buttocks.  Often, however, there will be one knee in the air in which case you should support this will a towel.  Alternatively a sitting bench can be used where the buttocks are on the seat and the legs folded under the bench and the knees on the floor.  Finding the right sitting position is vital as any discomfort will mean tension in one or other part of your body.  Once you have found your position, for different sittings you must practice by alternating legs (i.e. the left on top of the right or right on top of the left).  This is important to avoid an imbalance in the development of your muscles.   For some, sitting cross-legged in any position is a problem as age or old injuries make this difficult and is an impediment to meditation.  In these circumstances, sitting in a chair is an acceptable alternative.  At any rate, if you haven’t sat cross-legged very much, you will find sitting fro a length of time a challenge so practicing while reading or watching TV will help your body adjust to the position. 

Cushion type and height: there are many types of cushions used for meditation and you are advised to experiment to find which one suits you best and invest in a good one.  The purpose of a cushion is to raise the buttocks above the level of the knees.  One crucial thing is to find the right height of cushion that suits you.  Too low a cushion will mean that you have tendency to lean backward; one too high and you will tend to lean forward.  A cushion at the right height will allow you to sit perfectly upright.  Practitioners sitting in  chair should have a small cushion or towel under their feet while the thighs should be level with the body.

A straight back: the crux of relation in a sitting position is a straight back, determined by the height of the cushion and the type of cross-legged position you are in.  The spine is kept absolutely straight without engaging any of the back muscles by ensuring  each vertebrae is stacked one upon the other.  This is accomplished by sitting at the front of the cushion so that the coccyx or sitting bone is slightly lifted.  Sitting in a chair, the practitioner should sit at the front of the seat which has the same effect. 

Position of hands: In many cross-legged positions, a natural lap is formed of the legs on which the hands can rest.  the left hand should rest in the palm of the right with thumbs slightly touching.  The hands should rest naturally in the lap just below the navel so that they are not pulling the muscles of the arm which, along with the shoulders and neck, can relax as a consequence.  Sitting in a chair, the hands should be kept palms down on each thigh so there is no tension in the arms, the shoulders or neck.  In whatever position you are in, if your hands are not resting comfortably on your lap, then you should use a towel to prop them up so your arms, shoulders and neck can relax.