21-Day Meditation Challenge – Day 13: Sitting Meditation: Study the Pose
Does the actual sitting part of “sitting down to meditate” feel weird, challenging, a little bit (or even a lot) uncomfortable?
Awesome! You’ve got something to meditate on. Instead of trying to tune out the body and focus on breath, or a mantra, or nothingness, try really tuning in to the posture.
Yup, sitting is a yoga posture — as much as virabhadrasana I or adho mukha svanasana. Try giving it the same attention you would any of the more “active” poses in your yoga practice. Pick a seated posture — sukhasana, siddhasana, virasana, lotus — and start to work your breath and mind through it. Use the sitting pose as your meditation. Observe it, from the inside. And then start polishing. What part of you is crying for attention?
In How to Meditate, Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron suggests six points of your sitting posture to focus on: seat, hands, torso, eyes, face, and legs.
Rock from one sitting bone to another, to find a balanced, stable base. With your palms resting lightly on your thighs, try sliding your hands slowly a little bit forwards, a little back, until they’re in a position that supports an upright torso without any rounding of your back. Or try a different hand position, such as “Zen mudra”. Inhale and lift up into the crown of your head, lengthening your spine. Exhale and let your shoulders relax down. Open your heart. Concentrate on relaxing your face, allowing your teeth and lips to part almost imperceptibly. Eyes open or closed, allow them to relax. Breathe into your hips and feel your legs grounding heavily. If your hips are tight and causing low-back pain or rounding, get something to sit on.
Keep making micro-adjustments — imagine you’re finishing a fine piece of woodwork, using sandpaper with an ever-finer grit. Simply working your awareness through your seated posture in a mindful way might easily occupy you for five minutes or more. And now you’re underway!
When you start finding more ease in your seat, you may find your attention drawn more to the breath, to passage of thoughts, to consciousness itself. Five minutes will start to feel like not quite enough. Calmly abiding in now. And now. And now. Come. Sit.