How to Sit 101

Sitting for mindfulness/silent meditation can seem difficult at the best of times, but when your thoughts are already racing, sitting still is not comfortable. Most people have the image of sitting cross legged for a meditation, however there are other ways and this post is about those ways.

A little bit of backstory about me, I injured my lower back a while back and since sitting down is uncomfortable and will lead to some numbness in my legs. Because of that I have had to learn how to sit in order to focus without being so uncomfortable that it becomes a distraction, which is difficult to do. When I first started doing seated meditation my lower back would start hurting, leading to my upper back, and then this game would start of how to get it to stop. WIth a few adjustments I was able to make sure that I could sit for longer and longer, even with the injuries.

The first adjustment I needed to make while sitting was to have my hips higher than my knees. Currently I use a Zafu cushion (big round meditation cushion that is usually filled with some kind of stuffing that allows for your sit bones to settle) to ensure this. Sitting on the edge of the cushion my knees are lower and my lower back does not feel pressure. I then adjust my shoulders and back to be able to sit with minimal amount of support, the idea is to let your spine do most of the heavy lifting. If being on the floor is too hard/does not appeal to you/ not available, you can always sit in a chair. Same principle in the chair, make sure that you sit a little forward from the back of the chair so that your spine is doing most of the heavy lifting if you are able to.

Another way to “sit” is to kneel. There are matts called Zabuton, they are usually rectangular and large allowing to kneel with either a kneeling bench or a Zafu on its side. This tends to be my favorite way to meditate. The thing to look out for is to make sure your thighs are not being stretched, as this is not yoga or stretching. Making sure that your hips are high enough, and supported enough that this is a comfortable position.

The last big way to meditate is to lay down. This one is tricky as it leads to falling asleep easily. Historically I have done body scans laying down, but realized I needed to be seated to do them due to falling asleep too easily. When physical pain acts up to highly this is a good way to meditate, often it will relieve pressure on what hurts.

At the end of the day, you can chose to meditate in whatever form works best for you. Make sure that you are in a position that is conducive to being able to paying attention to your thoughts, breaths, and emotions.

Paying attention and listening to your body is important, do not sit in a position that you think is harming you. At the end of the day do not worry about it too much; sitting, kneeling, or lying is not as important as doing it.



Meditation Exercise for this week:

This week, try the three different poses to see which feels the best for you. Sit for five minutes at a time and observe the breath as it comes in and out of your body, much like last week.