Balance is key in our meditation practice. We want to create a balance between both energized and calm states. This means we start off with our posture as it will reflect in our practice.
The body and mind are inter-related, so a calm body that sits well will help to calm the mind. Let’s take a look at the Seven Point Meditation Posture. There are three somatic principles of posture: alignment, relaxation and resilience.
- Legs – Several positions depending on flexibility. We recommend cushion/s or a meditation bench for westerners so you can tilt the pelvis which helps keep back straight
- Back – Probably most important. Should be upright as much as possible. Imagine dangling from a string with a slight even gap between vertebras.
- Hands – Several positions but classic is right in left with thumbs touching.
- Arms – Away from the body a little with shoulders relaxed and pulled away from earlobes. Check no tension in the upper back
- Head – Extension of spine. Crown of head pointing to the sky, and perhaps tuck the chin in just a tiny bit.
- Mouth – Jaw relaxed with tongue on the roof of the mouth behind top front teeth. If any tension in back of jaw, pull jaw forward to front teeth and align on top of other.
- Eyes – It is recommended keeping open just a slight amount. It is harder but in the long run this will make you better for a number of reasons. (Keep you awake, harder practice = better skill, less disconnect to real life). You can either choose a spot on the floor to gaze at or gaze off to an imaginary point through the floor in the distance. Look 30 – 45 degrees down.
The posture of meditation is not something to be made perfect, but it is more organic like a work of art. This work of art is slowly achieved through practice. The three principles or gestures are in concert with one another.
There will always be a balance between calmness and alertness, tranquility and energy, and relaxation and investigation as Sharon Salzberg notes. You can notice that if your posture is too stiff, you are in a state of too much energy. So too if we are slumped in our seat, as then it is easy to be too relaxed which invites drowsiness.
In all, we want to be in the middle between either side. If you are drowsy, lengthen the spine, take a few deep breaths, or open the eyes. If you are restless with too much energy, feel the sensations of just one breath and its movement from inhale to exhale.
Let me know how this week goes for you and with each practice that I post. You can join me in my mindfulness classes or if you would you like personal meditation instruction, I am happy to assist you through these practices. Contact me.
Recommended reading for Week One of the Challenge is pages 37 – 47 and pages 64 – 74 in the second edition of the book, “Real Happiness”.
Supportive guided meditations by Sharon Salzberg are located here.