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Small changes to sitting practice

lobsterlobster Veteran
edited May 2016 in Meditation

In the yogic tradition of cross legged meditation, very subtle improvements to technique can improve our posture and practice.

For example:

  • lean back, rather than forward, will probably straighten you up ...
  • move the shoulders back rather than forward will open the chest
  • straighten the head by leaning it back before tucking the chin down a little
  • open the mouth slightly, loosen the jaw, relax the face
  • imagine a string attached to the top of the head and pulling up, increasing chest expansion and attention
  • raise the buttocks on a cushion and bring the hips forward, stops small of back pain
  • place tongue gently on top of palate

What subtle changes have improved your formal sitting mindfulness?


  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran
    edited May 2016

    Using the lying down method has been quite liberating for me, it's physically relaxed and cuts through a lot of these postural conundrums.
    I do think there is a lot of cultural baggage involved when it comes to posture for Buddhist meditation.

  • Here is the Buddha on holiday, having a nice lie down:

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    That pillow is too high for his head. He'll get torticollis....

  • He's thinking about an ice-cream anyway. :p

  • WalkerWalker Veteran

    I've been thinking about trying the seiza posture. Maybe buying or building a bench. Does anyone use this technique?

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    I know quite a few people who use seiza benches, much easier on their knees. I cannot put the pressure on my kneecap so it doesn't work for me.

    I meditate (formally) in a lot of ways, but I have found for me over the years that posture does matter. My bed is for sleeping and my body knows it, lol. I do a different meditation in bed at night, gets me to sleep quickly and soundly (except last night when I dreamed I murdered someone and then my car wouldn't start :O ) I do a quick morning meditation before I get out of bed, too. Then I sit formally after yoga. How my body is positioned at any time has an impact (for me) on my breathing and my aches and pains and all sorts of other things. When I was first taught 7 point meditation posture, I kind of poo pood it. And I'm not saying everyone should do it. Some don't want to, some can't. Fine by me :) Do what works for you to keep you meditating. That is all that matters. But I did notice a change in my meditation by following it. Now it comes naturally and I do not have to try. It also helps me to carry myself with better posture during the day, and putting my heart forward and having an open posture to the world. It does make a difference. The most helpful tip for me was the tongue on the palate. No more over-salivating and drooling:lol:

  • ajhayesajhayes Northern Michigan Veteran

    I'm interested in modifying The Buddha's "Ice Cream Posture" (above) to a form of hammock meditation.

  • SwaroopSwaroop India Veteran

    This is the correct lying down meditation posture I believe. The ice cream Buddha seems to be in the parinirvana staage

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Thanks guys B)

    Here is info on the classic posturing.

  • JohnMacJohnMac Veteran

    I found the chapter on doing Zazen in Uchiyama's 'Opening the hand of thought' very beneficial

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran
    edited May 2016

    I always had problems with my foot falling asleep so I switched to Burmese posture and the problem largely went away. I find it more comfortable in general.

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @how said:

    A zubuton is good addition for both the extra padding for your knees & legs and for hanging your feet off it's back edge to make the posture easier on the ankles.

    I normally use quarter lotus or Burmese position ...I had tried Seiza but found it quite uncomfortable (because I wasn't doing it right) but over the last two sessions (last evening and this morning) I've tried it again, this time placing the zafu on its edge and and use the zubuton to hang ten... it works a treat...Thanks @how ...

    And as they say .. A change is as good as a holiday :)

  • howhow Veteran
    edited June 2016


    Glad to hear that you've picked up another tool for your meditative toolbox.

    Folks can also experiment with comfort verses stability, for how close together or wide apart, they position their knees in Seiza.

    The other thing to consider with Seiza because it gives you a higher posture than most other meditation positions, is if you have a long torso length or short arms, your chosen hand mudra might need a bit of support on your lap.
    Usually a slim pillow or a sweater on your lap will work to address this and prevent potential shoulder or upper back pain from developing from having ones arms strain from continually holding up your hands.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited June 2016

    Very good pic @person, I tend to use Burmese, occasionally half lotus (which I find easy). Occasionally use kneeling. Usually with just a pillow across the thighs. I find very slight discomfort keeps me attentive, too much means a crippling transition when getting up. Not good but very common. The practice of walking meditation interludes in between long sits is useful. However in a home-setting I rarely require or do walking meditation. These pointers may seem subtle nuances or form obsession but they can improve ones inner journey immeasurably ...

    Thanks for sharing everyone :)

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