Meditation 101 (2/4): How to Get Comfortable Using Alternative Positions

Nov 08, 2013
If there's more than one way to skin a cat, there's more than one way to meditate. Experiment with these different positions to find your own style of meditation.

If there’s more than one way to skin a cat, there’s more than one way to meditate. Experiment with these different positions to find your own style of meditation.

 

This is part 2 of a 4 part series:

Meditation 101 (1/4): How to Get Comfortable using Props

Meditation 101 (3/4): How to Prepare Yourself for Meditation

Meditation 101 (4/4): How to Reach the Next Level

 

In our last article, we looked at using props to support our body while we “knock on the sky”. Did any of those props work for you? If so, great. If not, don’t worry, there’s more you can do to find “your way” in your mediation.

 

More than One Way to Skin a Cat

Like in most things, when someone invests a large amount of time and energy into doing something a particular way, it becomes THE way. And that’s what they’ll tell you too. This is THE way.

Really? Are you sure about that? There’s more than one way to cook an egg. There’s more than one way to make money. There’s more than one way to show appreciation to someone. Why can’t there be more than one way to meditate, or in this case, why can’t there be more than one way to position my body while meditating.

In many Buddhist temples of Southeast Asia, they have a very strict schedule of how they move from chores, meditation, leisure, eating, and sleeping. In their meditation, they all sit in a room, face the same direction, and sit the same way for the same amount of time.

Now, there’s definitely something to be said about the value of a healthy routine and group meditation. However, we’re not Buddhist Monks. You probably drive a car to work. You probably have tight hips and a weak back from living this Western life.

So for everyone out there that isn’t ready to shave their head and trade in their spring collection for a robe, here’s some helpful ways to get you find “your way” in your meditation.

 

Where are you?

You’re on your lunch break and you decide to have your lunch in the break room. Oh boy, finished ten minutes early! A great amount of time to meditate before you head back to your desk. Where and how are you going to meditate?

Sit in the hallway, full lotus, hands out, and eyes closed- people walking by and tripping over you? Maybe your co-workers aren’t ready for that.

What could you do instead? You can sit exactly where you finished your lunch, put it aside, and meditate there in the chair you had lunch in. Set your phone’s timer for ten minutes, do your thing, and then go back to work.

What we’re getting at is you don’t have to be in your Wednesday yoga class to meditate. You can meditate anytime, anywhere, and in any position.

 

Alternative Positions

In the example above, the position for meditation was in a chair. Guess what? There’s even more great positions to get comfortable in that suit your body and location.

While attempting these positions, it’s very important that you should not put unnecessary strain on any part of your body. If any of these positions cause you discomfort, do not proceed.

 

In a Chair

Sit in your chair with your feet flat on the ground. Try moving your buttocks to the edge of the seat for an upright position. If you attempt this, slightly pull in your abs to support your spine, and ever-so-slightly, tilt your head down.

If this is uncomfortable for you, sit further back in your chair and rest your back on the back of the chair.

 

On Your Back

Lay on your back. Consider supporting your head with a pillow. Spread your legs slightly more than shoulder width apart. Leave your arms by your side and move them about a foot away from your sides, palms facing up. Remember making snow angels?

You may also consider lying in this position with your feet and calves up and resting on a chair, couch, or bed. In this case, you would observe a 90 degree angle forming at your hips and another at your knees. This one is particularly nice if you have any sort of lower back pain.

 

Kneeling

This is a great position for those who want to exercise the muscles around their spine. Gather a few pillows or blankets and make a soft mound on the floor. Then straddle the mound with your knees on the floor. Your feet may travel straight back from your knees, forming parallel calves, or you may adjust to suit your comfort.

Another version of this position is to kneel on the ground and support your buttocks with a block, pillow, or blanket. The difference is straddling vs. sitting.

Fort this and other upright positions, play with the position of your pelvis. A slight tweak, twist, tuck in another direction may give you the balance and support you were looking for.

 

On Your Side

This position is made famous by many statues of Buddha. Do you have the image in your mind? If not, it goes something like this.

Lay on your side. Slightly bend your knees leaving one on top of the other. With your arm and hand that is closest to the floor, support your head by letting it rest in your palm. You may have to move your hand around to find a comfortable position that doesn’t put too much stress on your neck. Rest your other arm on top the side of your body.

Also think about switching which side you lay on either in the same session or for the next day’s session.

 

Standing

Imagine standing up while meditating! That’s right, squeeze in a few blissful moments while you wait in line at subway.

The key to this position is finding your balance. Move the weight of your body to your toes and then shift your weight to your heels. Find the balance. Then shift your balance forward and backwards in your hips. Find the balance. Use this same, quick check at your shoulders and finally your head.

With a keen sense of balance, hold your ground and begin your meditation.

 

Next time

In our next article, we’ll discuss what preparations you can make to achieve maximum results in your mediation.

 

Leave a comment below and share with us your favorite meditation position.

 

 

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