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My Meditative Moments

Preparing forYour Practice- Posture

by meditative - April 12th, 2010.
Filed under: Introductory Readings.

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s there are few”. ~ Zen Master, Suzuki Roshi

Before you begin your meditation practice, you must understand two essential elements… posture (asana) and breath.We will begin with briefly discussing the first meditation posture… Sitting Posture or Asana (Sanskirt).The purpose is to select a seated posture that you can sit comfortably for a long period of time. You want to select a stable position- one where you are grounded to the earth. Cross-legged is the typical seated position, but you can vary depending upon your level of flexibility. The object is to get the knees as close to the earth (ground) as possible. You might be flexible enough for a Burmese position (i.e. one leg goes in front of the other), or a Half-Lotus position (i.e. one foot is lifted & rests on the calf of the other leg).

You will also need a soft mat (i.e. Zabutan) or a folded blanket (padding for ankles & knees), a pillow (Zafu- the firmer the better to support your spine), or a block and a blanket. You need to be comfortable and stable, otherwise your attention will be directed toward your discomfort. You will want your hips & buttocks to be higher than your knees as this enables the spine to relax in an upright position and the blood & oxygen to flow more freely…. aiding in comfort & concentration.

Sit upright, with the spine straight but not rigid… imagine a string holding you up from the crown of your head. If you need to use a wall or a chair for additional support of the back… then do so.Your chest should be open. Proper, natural alignment of your posture affects the skeletal, respiratory, circulatory, and nervous systems- it also helps us relax and stay alert or “awake” for concentration.

Your head should be directly over the neck- tilted slightly back. You should relax your jaw by opening the mouth & let it go by hanging loosely, then close gently. Your shoulders should relax, and your hands placed comfortably in your lap (e.g.“cupped” or one on top of the other, with thumbs touching), or on your knee caps (down or upward). You can also put a small cushion on your lap to rest your hands.Arms should be loose and relaxed.

When seated, you can gently close your eyes, or slightly open but down-cast so that you are not looking around the room. For reference,we have included a file in this series with some common meditation postures and accompanying photos.

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