It is generally agreed nowadays that there is a link between body and mind, and that the influence between the two is interdependent. So it is said ‘if you create an auspicious condition in your body and your environment, then meditation and realisation will automatically arise’. When you begin with meditation practice, it helps to find a quiet place to meditate and to keep returning to that place for every session. As your meditation practice stabilises, this is less necessary, but it creates a good habit for beginners. A flower or a candle can help to give your space an atmosphere of calmness and relaxation.
If you are comfortable enough, you can sit on a meditation cushion with your legs crossed, or on a meditation stool. Not everyone should try to sit cross-legged on the ground in full lotus position. The most important point is to keep your spine straight (remembering that the spine has a natural curve), as this is the main support for your stability and comfort while sitting. A traditional image for this is ‘like a pile of golden coins’. If you choose to sit on a chair, you should have your feet on the ground, hip width apart, and if necessary, put a cushion under your feet so that your thighs do not suffer undue pressure from legs which are dangling slightly from the chair. It is traditional (and sensible) to remove your shoes before starting meditation practice. The attitude is said to be to ‘sit like a mountain’. A mountain is unperturbed by what is happening around it, it remains solid, unshakable, stable – and with practice, we can develop an attitude which is more like a mountain. At the moment we’re more like a feather, carried away by our thoughts and emotions and so unable to remain stable when life throws us a challenge.
Place your hands on your knees, palms down, remembering to ease any tension in the shoulders as you do so. Shoulder blades should be apart, with air flowing easily between the arms and the body.
The head rests comfortably on the neck, with the chin slightly tucked in. This eases any tension in the back of the neck. You may find that as you meditate, your chin rises or drops, so you can check this posture regularly and adjust your head as necessary.
The eyes remain open, as we are not shutting out anything, but you may find it easier to start with the eyes closed for a few minutes. The gaze is soft, looking downward, past the nose, an angle of about 45⁰, but not fixating on anything in particular.
The mouth is slightly open, as if about to say ‘ah’ and breathing is natural, through the mouth.
The attitude we aim to adopt while meditating is one of ease, relaxation and spaciousness. Being spacious is like being on an infinite ocean with no boundaries or restrictions.
So the posture for meditation can be very briefly summed up as ‘body still, speech silent, mind at ease’. An inspired mind will inspire our posture and an inspired posture will inspire our mind.