I haven’t pushed this this aspect of Mindfulness mainly because I don’t want to scare off people who would benefit from learning this practice. These are the ones who are leaning towards trying the practice but are still suspicious of the stereotypes of the hippy or the ninja mentioned in the Science or WooWoo page mentioned earlier.
The most formal postures for meditating require sitting on the floor or support and resting tour palms together.
Your bum needs to be centred on the cushion for balance, not leaning. The frantic mind calms when you find the sit that suits you.
But if you are comfortable this way, that is fine. I have not sat with others doing this perhaps because I am getting on and we might not be able to get up!
CHAIR – Formal Mindfulness practice is usually done sitting on a chair. Curiously I haven’t been able to find a good photo (still looking) of the typical Mindfulness meditator. Think about it as I explain:
An upright chair is best with or without a back. When you sit, your bottom wants to be halfway forward on the seat of the chair. Your position is dignified, straight but not tight. Feel as though you are being gently pulled upwards by a cord on your head but don’t stretch. Hips must be above knees. If they aren’t, get a different chair or put a box under your feet.
What you want to achieve is a posture of attention to this moment.
The go-to postures require one of these four :
Rectangular cushion (gomden) for sitting cross-legged
Zafu – round cushion for sitting on or putting between your legs when kneeling
Meditation Bench – for relaxed kneeling
Having said that, when I was new to meditating I could not sit long before I would get a shooting pain down the right side of my back. That did not do much to encourage me to carry on. Shifting mindfully is totally OK. More advanced meditation can banish the pain.
What novices can mindfully shift to feel the discomfort less. The second method, and I often resorted to this in the early days, is to get a cushion behind your back for support.
Wonderfully, you can eventually train your back, perhaps with the help of some stretching exercises. But the pain will go away anyway with time.
HANDS – These may lie on your knees or be cupped one inside the other in your lap.
FEET – These should be flat on the floor. This is difficult for a shortie like me. Sometimes another piece of furniture works for me – not a puffed up sofa! I often use a small table.
Your hips should be higher than your knees.
EYES – These can be open and gazing unfocused on the floor in front of you. Otherwise close them. Personally I prefer closed because I am less apt to be distracted by things around me.
REMEMBER – You are wanting to be in the moment, not wanting to change anything, neither concerning thoughts of the past or future without judging yourself.
This is the first moment of time sitting even if you have done it millions of times before. The sense of newness is palpable. But if you do not feel a thing, don’t give yourself a hard time. It’s fine. Every time you remember that your mind has wandered, that is your opportunity to practice escorting the mind back to the breath or body.
That’s already starting to strengthen that ‘muscle’ that you are trying to excercise and develop. Fantastic. This is good enough to practice to keep doing for ages.
You can also do this waiting in line for the bus or at the supermarket or waiting for the lights to change, anywhere you might otherwise feel frustrated or grouchy.
When you are done after 10 minutes or whenever the queue starts to move, ask yourself how that felt.
And please tell me too.