New to a mediation practice? Well, this one's for you. Many of us have heard about the benefits yet we still may be grasping for tips on how to begin. Here's a foundational explanation of how our body is positioned in a seated posture. Ultimately, please know the goal is not so much in doing but in being. Being in a space where you can consistently call attention to your breath and let go of all the thoughts that surround you.
1. Seat- Find a nice stable base. Options include a flat ground, gomdens (a hard, square seat that lifts you up so your knees are below your sacrum), zafus (a circular cushion a bit softer and lower), or a chair. We each need to find our own sense of stability and balance.
2. Hands- Place in the "resting the mind" mantra, which simply means resting your hands on your thighs, palms down. Because alignment is important, find a place of comfort where no pressure can pull you body out of alignment. Placing the hands too far forward or back can add stress and pain to your sitting posture. If your energy needs a boost, your hands can be in the Zen mudra (symbolic hand gesture), where one palm is placed over the other to make an oval shape by joining your hands. The thumbs also draw toward each other without touching. Lift your hands up a bit versus sitting them on your lap.
3. Torso- This part of the body should be as relaxed as possible. Visualize a straight line starting at the top of the head that travels down to your seat, into your cushion. As an expression of being being awake and attentive, the front body should remain open, especially in the heart, with a strong back.
4. Eyes- Keep your eyes open with a downward, soft gaze about four to six feet in front of you. This option may be a renewed perspective from what you may have seen during meditation practices. Doing so will demonstrate the intention to stay with the present.
5. Face- Allow your mouth to open slightly versus wide so air can flow between your nose and mouth. Allowing your lips to part slightly helps to relax your jaw, face, neck and even the shoulders. If you feel any tension, notice your breathe and let it go.
6. Legs- Cross your legs in front of you and if needed, raise your seat. This especially helps if your legs don't go down or if it exacerbates any injuries. A chair can be used for support. Sit in a chair with your spine erect, heart open, palms on your legs with your face, mouth, and gaze relaxed.
Additional Mediation Tips
Know that like anything new, allow yourself to adjust into the process. Be gentle and kind to your practice and when faced with any discomfort, agitation, or self-judgement, choose to stay with it a little bit longer.
Embody an expression of being awake and confident knowing that with each experience we can usher in renewed opportunities for peace, love and joy.
Wishing you life-long compassion & openness in meditation.
Namaste- Erika Maxie
Resource: How to Meditate by Pema Chödrön