How to sit

We tend to see body, breath, and mind separately, but in meditation they become one.

The first thing to pay attention to is the body position during sitting.

How you position your body has a lot to do with what happens with your mind and your breath.

As our School comes from an Asian tradition, the basic meditation posture is to sit on a mat and cushion on the floor. For Westerners who are used to sitting in chairs, this can often cause discomfort. For this reason, our School allows for many variations to help students find a stable and comfortable posture for sitting meditation. There is absolutely no esoteric significance to the different positions. What is most important in sitting meditation is what we call mind sitting, rather than body sitting—how do we keep our mind just now? In order to do that, a good posture is useful and supports our practice.

 

SITTING MEDITATION

 

Form

Place one or more cushions on a mat and sit in a cross-legged position. You may use any of the forms listed here:

Full Lotus

Full Lotus

Burmese Posture

Burmese Posture

Half Lotus

Half Lotus

Burmese Posture, Variation

Burmese Posture, Variation

When sitting on a chair, your feet should not extend past the front edge of the row of mats in the row in which you are seated in a group practice setting. You may fold your mat and place it under your chair. You may use the mat for a footrest. For meditation purposes, it is best that you do not lean against the back of the chair, but sit toward the front of the seat, keeping your back erect. Your thighs should be parallel to the floor, with shins perpendicular. Both feet should be parallel, flat on the floor.

Burmese Posture

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Discomfort and changing positions                                                 

Once in a particular sitting position, you should stay that way until you feel the need to change positions. During a sitting period, if physical pain or drowsiness becomes a distraction, you may stand up for relief. First, do a sitting bow, then quietly stand up, remaining in standing meditation until the discomfort passes. When you are ready, do a standing bow and quietly sit down. Additionally, you may use the standing meditation posture as a transition between different sitting positions. For example, if you experience a lot of pain sitting cross-legged and need to change position, do a sitting bow, stand up quietly, bow, and then sit down in a kneeling position.