Sittin' ain't easy. We know it! That's why one of our top tips for a seated meditation is to get comfy. We say this at the start of every class because a comfortable body during meditation will allow your mind to focus easier than a body struggling to sit still. Basically we are pre-empting pesky bodily distractions, as well as preserving our body's well-being, often our back and knees. While meditation isn't always easy to practice, at the very least you can be physically comfortable whilst you sit.
Plus, building yourself a proper good seat will enhance your overall meditation experience, encouraging you to practice regularly. In general most of us are more likely to return to positive experiences than negative ones. And making meditation a part of your daily routine will best allow you to feel its benefits.
Here are Mind House's top five tips for getting body comfy in a seated meditation.
1 // Find The Right Support
There are many ways to approach a meditation seat. You can feel free to sit on a traditional zafu-style cushion, on the edge of a bolster, or even in a chair or stool. First and foremost you want to feel stable and energised, maintaining a straight spine (imagine an arrow running down your back, pointing upward) - that's the intention. But that spinal posture can be hard to hold, regardless of how your legs are positioned.
If you find your shoulders slumping forward, then move your seat to a wall. Allow your back to rest against it.
If your lower-back starts hurting, opt for a chair with back support and/or try placing a small pillow at the lower spine.
If when sitting crossed legged, your hips feel tight or your knees strained, then place yoga blocks or rolled-up blankets underneath your knees to prop your legs up, alleviating any pressure on those joints.
Use these tools to give yourself that extra support that your body is calling out for.
2 // Stay Warm
When we meditate, we can feel all sorts of sensations within our bodies. Often the body's temperature lowers when we slow our heart-rate down, leaving us feeling chilly. So drape a cosy blanket on your shoulders and/or lap. Sounds like a big duh, but more often than not, we forget this effect when we first sit. So beat the chill and be like a burrito – wrap yourself up.
3 // Try New Positions
Who doesn't like to a new position now and again! First off, there are many ways to place your legs. Lotus position (that picture perfect yogi pose with both feet above the thighs) is super advanced and requires a lot of flexibility. Instead, simply cross your legs Half Lotus style (with 1 foot on your thigh) or Burmese style, allowing both of your feet and knees to rest of the floor. If practicing Half Lotus, just make sure to switch up which foot to avoid developing any imbalances.
If you find sitting in a cross-legged position uncomfortable (or even boring), than try kneeling. You can use a meditation stool, cushion, or stack up a couple of bolsters as a base. Sit on top with your tailbone gently tucked under your pelvis (remember that straight spine). There should be no pressure on the knees.
Additionally, if you're totally knackered, you can always lie down on your back. While this may look like an easy option, it is actually very hard to stay awake in this position and we don't usually recommended it for this reason. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't allow yourself to try a new way of approaching the mind because sometimes you just need a lie down.
4 // Eat Lightly
Avoid having a huge meal right before meditation. We do this for two reasons. One, because when we meditate we want to summon our energy reserve for our mind. If they body is busy digesting food (an involuntary function), it's that much harder to focus our attention inwards. Secondly, because sitting down with a full stomach can be physically uncomfortable, especially if we experience any bloating or ingestions issues. So save your appetite for your post-meditation meal.
5 // Exercise Daily
Fun fact – the practice of yogaasana (movement) was developed in order to condition bodies to be able to withstand sitting in meditation. It's true! It helps develop a strong core and open up the hips. Having a strong body will greatly assist your seated meditations. You don't have to take up yoga though. You could practice karate, swim, weight train, dance, whatever... It doesn't really matter – as long as you move, so you can sit later.