10 Tips For How To Sit in Meditation
Oh meditation posture! Restlessness, fidgeting, itching, pain and discomfort. Have you ever experienced any of these? If you’ve ever meditated, the answer is probably yes.
The good news is that we can make it much easier on ourselves if we know how to sit properly.
In this post, we’ll explore 10 tips for how to sit in meditation so you can get the most out of your practice. We’ll also explore three different meditation postures for you to experiment with.
Good posture is often overlooked, but it is essential if we want to achieve success in meditation. Simply put, if you’re sitting incorrectly, it’s going to be very difficult to meditate well.
So it’s worth investing the time early on to avoid problems down the line!
It is not as simple as sitting down and seeing what happens: there is a specific way to sit properly. Follow the guidelines in this post, and you’ll be able to sit comfortably for the duration of your meditation.
If you want to learn more about how to meditate, check out the free starter pack below. It gives you everything you need to start a simple practice.
Meditation Posture Tip #1 - Keep a Straight Spine
The most important part of meditation posture is that you keep your spine straight. Otherwise, you won’t be able to breathe well or meditate deeply.
The body has a tendency to drift forward or backwards in meditation. The most common mistake is slouching forward, so be vigilant and try your best to maintain that straight spine.
Remember, you should be relaxed as well. Over-arching in the other direction will also affect your breathing and make you more tense.
The spine should be straight but relaxed. In this position, you will be alert, your breathing will flow, and energy will be free to move up and down your spine.
Meditation Posture Tip #2 – Align Your Head and Spine
Your head should be a continuation of your straight spine. Picture your spine and then align the back of your head so that it continues in that straight line.
Another common mistake is letting the head drift forward or backwards. This can lead to feelings of drowsiness and lethargy so it’s best to avoid.
Your chin should be parallel to the ground but slightly tucked in. Imagine your head attached to a string that hangs from the sky, keeping it perfectly straight and aligned.
Meditation Posture Tip #3 – Gaze Upwards
Look gently upwards behind closed eyes. Gaze up towards the point between the eyebrows. This is called the spiritual eye or the third eye chakra.
Gazing towards this point helps focus our attention. It also prevents us from drifting into subconscious states like drowsiness or dreaminess. Closing your eyes is best for most people, but you can keep them open slightly if this helps. Just try to keep your gaze lifted.
If the gaze falls, gently bring it back to the point between the eyebrows. Make sure you’re not straining or crossing your eyes; keep them looking upward but relaxed.
Meditation Posture Tip #4 - Draw the Shoulders Back
Relax your shoulders and draw them backwards. This is to support the position of the spine. If your shoulders slump forward, your spine will become arched as a result.
So roll your shoulders back and draw the shoulder blades together. This will help you maintain a straight spine and open your belly for deeper breathing. Be sure that you take the time to relax your shoulders. There is a great deal of tension here, so let them sink into relaxation before you meditate.
Meditation Posture Tip #5 – Lift the Chest
Often, all we need to do to improve our meditation posture is lift the chest. This helps to draw the lower back inwards and straighten the spine.
This tip helped me most of all because I always had a slight slouch in the lower back. Lifting the chest helped me to take that final step into maintaining a straight spine for meditation.
If you feel like something is wrong with your posture while you’re meditating, usually lifting the chest is enough to fix the problem.
Meditation Posture Tip #6 – Place Your Hands on the Lap
Place your hands, palms facing upwards, at the top of the thighs, where the legs meet the abdomen. This helps to keep the shoulders backwards and maintain a straight spine. Palms upwards is symbolic for receptivity, showing that you are ready for transformation.
Many meditators place their hands on their knees, but this can draw the shoulders forward. Then we might find ourselves slouching forward. Keeping the hands up near the groin can help to prevent this common error.
If you have very long arms or if this is uncomfortable for you, place them closer to the knees. Just be aware of keeping your shoulders back and your chest lifted.
Meditation Posture Tip #7 - Support the Lower Body
Your lower body should be supported by a firm surface. You don’t need to sit on a brick, but avoid soft cushions, mattresses and armchairs.
If you sit in a chair, ensure that it has a firm base and that it doesn’t sink beneath you. If you use a meditation bench, these are generally firm already and great for your posture. You can also get cushions for your bench, which will make it more comfortable.
If you sit on the floor, you’ll need a cushion beneath you. There are cushions designed for meditation, which you can buy online. If you want to use a cushion from your home, be sure to use a firm one that doesn’t sink when you sit on it.
Meditation Posture Tip #8 - Keep Still
It’s important that we keep our body still in meditation. If we allow the body to move whenever it wants, it will affect our breath and our state of mind. This will lead to a greater degree of mental restlessness.
If you feel the need to move the body, try to first notice the desire to move, but avoid actually moving. The desire should fade away in time.
It’s the same when you feel an itch. Notice the sensation arise but try not to scratch. This can be quite unpleasant at the start, but it will be worth it. The less you give in to bodily movements, the less they arise. If you always scratch, itches will keep popping up all over the place and your practice will become more of an itching tournament than a meditation.
Of course, if it is very distracting, just itch the damn thing, but try not to make it a habit!
Meditation Posture Tip #9 - Get Comfortable
You need to be comfortable when you meditate. This doesn’t mean that you’ll be as comfortable as when you are tucked up in bed at night: meditation requires that we are upright and alert. But we do want to sit in a way that doesn’t lead to too much distracting pain or discomfort.
Some discomfort or pain is normal, but if you are in a lot of pain, you won’t be able to meditate well because your mind will be focused on the pain. So there’s no need to sit in full lotus position during meditation unless you can do so comfortably.
As long as you can sit upright with a straight spine, you can go very deep in your meditation. Try to be as comfortable as you can while sitting with a straight spine.
Meditation Posture Tip #10 – Relax
Once you’ve settled in your meditation posture, try to completely relax the body. If you have a meditation space set up in your home, starting your meditation practice will be much more relaxing. If we need to set up our space every time, it can be exhausting.
Once you’re set up, sit down, take a deep breath, and smile. Relax the shoulders, the jaw, and the belly. Let your whole body relax and get ready for a joyful meditation practice.
Three Meditation Postures
There are many different ways to sit in meditation, but in this post we will keep it simple and explore the three main meditation postures: sitting in a chair, kneeling, and sitting on the ground.
Meditation posture #1 - Chair
Sitting in a chair is a great way of meditating. Many advanced practitioners adopt this position for their regular practice.
Remember to keep a straight spine because it’s common for people to slump forward when they sit in a chair. To avoid this, there are a few things you can do:
- Ensure that the chair is firm and upright
- Sit forward and avoid reclining on the backrest
- Place something underneath the back legs of the chair to tilt it forward. This helps to tilt the pelvis forward and straighten the spine.
- Make sure your feet are firmly planted on the ground. Place a folded blanket under your feet if you find your legs are too short (see picture).
- Ensure your hips are above the knees or level with the knees. If your knees are above the level of your hips, your chair is too small.
- Sit on a folded blanket or a towel. This can help to keep your spine straight.
You may not feel quite so grounded and stable in a chair as you would in the cross-legged positions, but it’s still an excellent way of sitting. It is particularly useful for westerners who are not accustomed to sitting on the ground.
You will likely experience some discomfort at first in any position. But over time, your muscles will become stronger and more relaxed, allowing you to sit for longer periods.
Meditation posture #2 - Kneeling
Kneeling on the ground is another great way to practice meditation. You will need either a small stack of cushions or a meditation bench.
It is important to be at the right height. If you are too low, you will slouch and if you are too high, you may be over-arching your spine. Two firm cushions will usually be about right and a bench will usually be perfect.
The floor beneath you should be firm, but not uncomfortable. A meditation mat is perfect, but if you lay a yoga mat or a blanket on the ground, this will be fine as well. Maintain a straight spine and ensure that you are comfortable.
Meditation posture #3 - Cross-legged
Finally, we can sit in a cross-legged position on the floor. Simply sit on a firm meditation cushion to keep your spine erect. Place a folded blanket under your cushion to give it a better, forward-facing angle.
While sitting on the ground, remember to sit with a straight spine. Keeping your knees grounded will be very helpful if you can do so. You may find that you begin to slouch if your knees are floating in mid-air. Put a towel or cushion under the knees if you need the support.
If you can sit in more advanced postures like half or full lotus, then use them. They are very stable and powerful positions. But they are not essential and you do not need to sit through painful meditation sessions in order to practice well.
If you want a simple formula for how to sit well in meditation, remember:
Straight Spine + Comfort = Success
If you can sit with a straight spine and be comfortable, then you have got it. I know that sounds simple, but it can be difficult to master.
Download the free meditation starter pack to learn more about meditation. You can get it below.
Good luck with your meditation posture.