How to Sit for Meditation

May 1, 2024 | Blog, Meditation Practices

How to Sit for Meditation

It is not uncommon for establishing a meditation practice to feel like an intimidating undertaking.  But just as a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step, so the journey of meditation begins simply by seating yourself with the intention to meditate. “Finding your seat” is a right of passage for meditation practitioners, and though it may take time, it doesn’t have to be daunting. Here are some suggestions for how to sit for meditation.

You may like to sit in an easy cross-legged position on the floor with a meditation cushion or folded up blanket under your “sit bones.” Your feet and ankles can rest on the floor or a soft rug. You might try folding a blanket to different heights to find the most comfortable thickness for you to sit on. Be sure that the cushion is tall enough so that you are not hunched over. You will get the best results if you sit with a relatively straight spine with your shoulders directly over your hips. If you are not sure if your back is straight enough, try rolling your shoulders forward as though you are reading a something on a low table. Observe how this posture changes your breathing. Then, slowly straighten up until your breathing flows more deeply and effortlessly. You can place your hands on your thighs with the tips of your index finger and thumb touching or simply fold your hands in your lap. Your head should be centered over your shoulders. Try tipping your head forward and backward and from side to side until you find that centered spot. You should be as comfortable as possible so that you are not distracted by your body too much.

If sitting on the floor is too uncomfortable, choose a firm chair with good back support. Place both feet flat on the floor and adjust your posture as described above for sitting cross-legged. If your lower back bothers you in this position, fold up a blanket or place some other support under your feet. You may even be more comfortable if your heels are a little lower than your toes on the blanket.

Once you find a comfortable position for the legs and upright posture in the spine, you may try swaying back and forth from center ever so slightly; just a few inches forward from center, then a few inches back from center. Notice the effort in the surrounding muscles when the spine is not upright. Allow the swaying movements to become smaller and smaller until you find a place of rest at center, a sense of “effortless effort,” with spine aligned over the pelvis.

You may choose to close your eyes, or else take a soft gaze somewhere on the floor in front of you or at a chosen object or photograph that inspires calm and openness.

Finding one’s seat, as described here, is a process that you may go through every time you sit to meditate, almost like a ritual to prepare the body and mind for meditation.

You are now ready to focus your awareness of your meditation technique of choice.