Sitting Positions for Meditation (BE COMFORTABLE!)

Sitting Positions for Meditation (BE COMFORTABLE!)


Hi, let me help you find a comfortable way
to sit in meditation. And what I mean by that is comfortable enough,
comfortable enough to sit for 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, and maybe longer. Now there are a number of different meditation
traditions and many of them use their own cushions and different seating styles. So I’m going to show you a range of options
and then you can find the one that works best for you. If you’ve been to my channel before you know
that I’m Barbara Heffernan and I’m a psychotherapist who specializes in helping people recover
from anxiety and trauma. But I am also a Buddhist and I am also a certified
mindfulness instructor and I’ve been meditating for about 27 years. I’ve been to more than six one week silent
meditation retreats where we meditate pretty much from the moment you wake up until you
know 7:00 AM until nine o’clock at night. The most intensive retreat that I’ve ever
done was actually in Thailand where we woke up at four in the morning, meditated for two
hours, had breakfast at six, meditated, had lunch at 11 and then meditated until close
to 10 o’clock at night. And while you were allowed to have liquids
and some soy milk, no other food for the day. So that was the most intensive meditation
retreat I’ve ever been on. And I have tried a number of different cushions
and sitting styles and there was a period of time where I would just get burning pain
in my back, which I couldn’t tolerate. So I found a solution for that. And I’m going to give you a number of different
options of sitting styles and sitting in questions so you can figure out how to sit without too
much pain. Now, before I move on, it would be really
helpful to me if you would subscribe to my channel and give me a, like if you like this
video that helps me continue to produce them and also get the word out to more people. So let me start by explaining what I’m sitting
on right now. This large cushion on the floor is called
a zabuton and it’s a very useful cushion to have actually, and they’re sold on Amazon,
they’re sold all over the place and I will actually include a link in the notes to this
video. And then I’m also sitting on a zafu. And a zafu is typical in the Zen tradition
and it helps you raise your hips above your knees, which is very helpful, particularly
for those of us from Western cultures where we did not grow up sitting on the floor. And by the way, I just got a little cramp
in my toe, which does happen to me when I sit this low to the ground. So the zafu and zabuton would be a traditional
setup for a Zen center if you go to a Zen center. And I’m going to run through the points of
posture using this set up. And then as I said, I’ll show you a few others. So with this set up, your hips are above your
knees. If you put your knees on the ground and you
can cross your legs. As you can actually see, one of my legs is
crossed here and the other is crossed here. And this triangle base gives you a very stable
place to sit in meditation. And then as you’re sitting, the next thing
to do is to pull up as if you have a string pulling from your sitz bones all the way through
the crown of your head and all the way up. And it really lengthens your spine. So imagine something polling the crown of
your head up. And what that does is it also tucks your chin
down a little bit. You don’t want to be sitting in such a way
where your chin is jetting out. That will really hurt your back. So you’re on your cushion, on your sitz bones,
on the little bones at the bottom of your butt – really feel the stability of that. And then the lengthening through your spine
and up towards the ceiling. And for your arms, shake them out a little
bit for a moment and kind of feel where they naturally fall and wherever they naturally
fall from the shoulder down to the elbow, keep that there and then move your hand to
your knee. Now some traditions will have you sit with
your hands like this. Other traditions we’ll have you sit with your
hands like this and other traditions we’ll have you hold a mudra – hand mudra You can try all of these. If you don’t follow a particular tradition
and you will get a different they give you have a different feeling, actually this feels
a little bit more inward maybe? This feels a little bit more open and then
that feels slightly different as well. Now some people will say to put your tongue
behind your teeth kind of on the roof of your mouth. I don’t find that all that helpful, but many
people do feel that that helps them relax their jaw and relaxing your jaw is definitely
helpful, so you can try that as well. And then some traditions will have you meditate
with your eyes closed and other traditions actually have your eyes open. So in a Vedic or Hindu tradition, you’re probably
using a hand mudra and your eyes are usually closed. Whereas in Tibetan traditions, your hands
might be like this and your eyes might be open gazing a few feet in front of you. And again, you can experiment with what it
feels like to do meditation with your eyes closed and with your eyes open. And sometimes people feel like with our eyes
closed, they can relax more, they can center more. And other people feel that when they close
their eyes, their thoughts race more so, experiment. See what it’s like for you. Particularly if you’re a beginning, use a
method that helps you stay on the cushion for the amount of time you want to meditate. And one reason some traditions will have you
keep your eyes open is that we’re not meditating to retreat from the world. We’re not trying to go inside. We’re trying to learn to be here exactly where
we are with exactly what’s happening. And so having our eyes open, it’s one of our
sense Gates. You have our eyes open, we have our nose open,
we can smell, we can hear, we can feel breeze on our skin and we can see. And it’s not to concentrate on any of that
sensory information, but it’s also not to block it. So as you meditate and focus on your breathing,
you can also bring in awareness that comes in from your senses. So just to run through, once again, the points
of sitting posture, your knees below your hips will be very helpful for most people,
your sits bones sitting right on your sitz bones, holding up through your spine, crown
of the head. Your chin is tucked and your jaw is relaxed,
your arms are comfortably placed on your knees, and your eyes are either gazing open or closed. And sometimes it’s helpful to make a decision
about these different points prior to sitting in meditation. So if you say, okay, today I’m going to sit
with my hands open and my eyes closed, then that’s how you sit. And that way you’re not spending your sitting
time saying, Oh, I’ve got to try this, I’m gonna try this – and getting into all of that. So try as much as you can to pick what you
want to do and then sit and stay in that for the designated amount of time that you have
chosen. And now I’m gonna review a couple of cushion
options. So I explained that the zafu on this zabuton. If I take the zafu away and I am just completely
sitting flat, this again would be a more Hindu tradition, Vedic tradition. And very often people will sit in a full Lotus,
which is where you pull one leg up on your thigh and the other foot on this thigh. And I cannot sit in this position for more
than about two minutes. So coming out of that, you can also sit in
a half Lotus position where you pull one foot up. Again, this position would give me an enormous
amount of foot pain after a little while. So unless you are a practicing Hindu or practicing
in the Vedic tradition or you’ve done a lot of yoga, sitting completely on the floor,
particularly with your legs up, probably will hurt your legs. So you can also sit without elevating your
hips completely flat with your legs like this. This position again would give me a lot of
back pain. So I don’t choose to sit this way. Now for people who have a lot of knee and
ankle pain, I’m going to show you a Gomden. So this is a Gomden and when I sit on the
Gomden, I put my knees on the ground and there’s a
curve in my back, which really helps. Other people will sit more in the center of
the Gomden and then just have their legs crossed with their knees open. Oh, and I should mention that the Gomden was
actually invented for Westerners who do not grow up sitting on the floor. So it was to be helpful to people so they
could stay in meditation position. Now one nice thing about Gomden’s is that
you also can stack them. Down. So you can put one on top of the other. And I know my head is getting cut off here
a little bit, but this makes it a little bit more like a chair. You’re going to want to make sure you’re right
in the center of the cushions. But many people do find this alternative to
be very comfortable. But now I’m going to show you my favorite. So this is a bench. This is a bench. It’s used in Zen tradition sometimes and a
handful of other Buddhist traditions. I don’t see a lot of people sitting in this,
but I find this to be definitely the most comfortable for me. So to sit on the bench, you’ve just kind of
tuck your, I shouldn’t have had colored pants on, shouldn’t I? You just tuck your legs under you like that,
put the bench and then sit like that. And if you can see, I have a little bit of
a curve in my spine when I sit on this bench and that has really helped to eliminate the
burning back pain that I used to have. So it’s really nice if you have a center nearby
and you can go to the center and you can try a couple of different cushions. You are definitely allowed to do that. And if you would like to try to order one
or two, I will include links below for that as well. And the last thing I want to demonstrate is
sitting in a chair. So if you have hip, knee, ankle problems,
you can absolutely a hundred percent meditate in a chair. So if you’re more comfortable sitting in a
chair to meditate, it’s really not a problem. The important thing is to meditate. The important thing is to learn to stay present
and to gain all the many, many benefits that there are from meditation. So how you sit is not as important as sitting
and chairs are fine. Most of the centers that I go to now have
a number of chairs in the meditation room. So let me know in the comments below what
your favorite meditation posture is and whether you learned anything from this video. And if you liked this video, please give me
a thumbs up and I look forward to seeing you the next time.

21 comments

  1. Great video Barbara, comfort is truly important when it comes to meditating. Hope you are having a blessed day friend!👍

  2. I've never really meditated, but I think I would go try a bench! It looks the most comfortable for me. Great tips for everyone who meditates!

  3. Very informative video and I loved how you explained sitting positions in a very practical way. I definitely need to adjust how I meditate for sure.

  4. I absolutely love this. Finding he perfect comfortable position, but not so comfortable that you fall asleep is essential for meditation. Fantastic video and usual.

  5. Looks like I have to step up my meditation game. I learned a lot of new things today….. which is basically everything in this video. Thanks for the info

  6. WOW this is awesome!! I love sitting on a little pillow on top of a bigger soft mat and love a blanket over me for coziness!! thanks for this vid

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