Sitting for meditation…a cross to bear?

image of Sitting Meditation

Children Sitting Comfortably for Meditation

I wonder how many people associate meditation only with those pictures of the Buddha and the cross-legged pose.

Personally I am very happy sitting cross-legged  on the floor…for about 10minutes and then my either my back, my knees or my ankles begin to complain. And it is a long time since I was able to take up the pose as someone adept in yoga can, with their feet tucked into the groin.  I do kneel with a stool but on a day-to-day basis, I sit on a chair.

In the mindfulness courses I have attended, this is not usually chosen, if a choice is given.  I am curious about this. Is it that individuals simply can not relate to meditation in a chair? Maybe it feels inappropriate to choose a chair when the leader and others are on the floor.  Or do most people not feel comfortable sitting in a chair?

I also observe that many people have lost the ability to support themselves on a chair.  Not that furniture designers have made it easy for us with their odd angles and aesthetic choices.  Most chairs have no requirement to assist a human being in a functional position. They mostly encourage a tilted pelvis and a rounded spine, leading to poor breathing habits and aches and pains, as our muscles try to keep us in balance.

Meditation requires an upright position, sitting on the sitting bones, the spine arising from the support of the pelvis…..if the skeleton is organised well, we are sitting “in our bones”…not asking our muscles to hold us up.

Before you abandon all thought of meditation on a chair, explore your possibilities and here are a few factors to consider

  • Observe the chairs you have. Height, depth and slant of the seat….is it a “fit” for you?
  • Are your feet flat on the floor?
  • Can you sense your sitting bones when you sit at the front of the seat or at least away from the back?
  • If you rock a little forward and back on your sitting bones, can you sense that place where your sitting bone is more or less flat…the middle/neutral spot. If you shift side to side, are you sitting fully on both sitting bones?
  • Are your knees at hip height or a little lower?
  • Are your shoulders above your hips, a little behind or a little in front?
  • Do you sense the curves of your back as soft?
  • Can you imagine the spine floating upwards as the muscles soften, not sag, connecting to the ground beneath, creating an equal and opposite force?
    And if you need support behind your back or a slanted cushion to sit on, go ahead. Why bear the cross?
    Look after yourself. This will pay dividends. Not just for meditation, but in all those hours you spend in sitting every day.