One of the crucial aspects of mindfulness meditation is posture. But many of us can’t cross our legs without pain because of a physical illness or lack of flexibility. You’ll often see people recommending sitting on a chair or sofa for meditation practice. Some people defend the conventional posture while others say that it doesn’t matter whether you’re sitting on the ground or a chair.
Meditating on the ground is better than sitting on a chair. But if you’re only meditating to improve your well-being, it’s okay to sit on a chair. On the contrary, if you’re serious about meditation and have a spiritual goal in mind, you must sit on the ground and master the cross-legged posture.
But what exactly is the difference between the two? How do you master the cross-legged posture? Are there any postures other than sitting on a chair or cross-legged? Let’s dive deeper into the topic and answer these questions.
- Sitting on a chair vs. sitting cross-legged on the floor
- How do you learn to sit cross-legged?
- Four common meditation positions
- Final thoughts
Sitting on a chair vs. sitting cross-legged on the floor
What’s the difference between meditating cross-legged on the floor and sitting on a chair? Does it affect the spiritual progress in any way?
I’ve seen this question many times, mostly from western practitioners. Many western practitioners have difficulties sitting on the floor. When you ask this question, people will give you varied advice based on their experience.
To answer it, we must consider why you’re meditating in the first place.
Scenario #1: You want to meditate to better your life
You fall into this category if you meditate to be more composed and focused throughout your day. You’re not concerned with any kind of spiritual enlightenment or mystical experiences. Perhaps you’re struggling with stress or anxiety and want to use meditation to overcome those feelings. Or maybe you want to be more productive and excel at your business.
If that’s your goal, you need not worry too much about posture. You can meditate sitting on a chair or a cushion and get the same benefits. You can also take it to the ground if it feels better. As long as you keep your back straight, you’ll be fine.
Not all of us are interested in a spiritual journey. We may just want to have a calmer mind to improve our relationships or become happier. I don’t think you have to go through the pain of retraining your body if you’ll only ever meditate for 15-20 minutes a day.
Also read: Does Meditation Make You Happy?
Scenario #2: You want to meditate for spiritual attainment
You fall into this category if you’re meditating for spiritual attainment. You want to rise above your base cravings and the suffering they entail.
If that’s your goal, you must get the posture correct. You’ll need to train your body to sit cross-legged for hours at a stretch, feeling no pain or numbness. However, if you’re in this category but cannot sit on the ground because of a physical illness, you can meditate on a chair with a straight back.
Sitting on the floor with your legs crossed has been considered the best posture for meditation since ancient times. The goal of this posture is to create a stable triangular base for your body so that minimal effort is required to have an upright spine. Once you have a straight back with little conscious effort, you can then focus on your actual practice.
Cross-legged posture also channelizes your energies in a way that you’re able to concentrate better. So you’re more likely to sink deep in meditation if you’re sitting in the conventional posture.
How do you learn to sit cross-legged?
When we think of meditation, we conjure up images of monks sitting cross-legged for hours with their eyes closed. But when you first try to sit down, you’ll realize it’s way harder than it looks. Therefore, you shouldn’t force yourself into sitting for lengthy periods. In the beginning, just make sure you’re relaxed and have an upright spine.
You can split your sessions into smaller parts. It’s okay to do four sessions of 15 minutes each as long as you maintain a rock-steady posture. Whenever you sit down to meditate, it could be just for ten minutes, make it a point to sit like a rock.
In the earlier stages, you’ll experience pains and aches in different parts of the body. You can overcome some of those by stretching regularly or doing yoga, but for the most part, the only way to sit without pain is by persisting with your meditation.
Here’s a video showing a few essential stretches:
Related: Should You Meditate After Eating?
Four common meditation positions
Apart from sitting on a chair or crossing your legs, you can meditate in other positions. Let’s discuss four of the most common positions for meditation. You can interchange them to keep the monkey mind engaged and avoid boredom during your sessions.
Sitting on a chair
If you’re using a chair, make sure it’s a hard-backed chair. It should be right for the height of your legs, which need to be straight below the knees. Making sure that your spine is erect, let your hands rest gently on your knees. You can also put them in your lap with the back of your right one resting lightly on the left.
The easiest way to sit cross-legged on the floor is with the help of a very thin cushion or piece of foam, with your legs crossed in front of you and your back resting up against a wall.
Sit down and tuck the least flexible of your ankles towards the base of your spine, holding the ankle of the other leg, bring it up and place the foot down onto the top of your other thigh.
Ideally, try to get the knee of the uppermost leg down onto the floor. This is the half-lotus position; the full lotus position is very hard for a beginner and many newcomers cannot find the comfort they need to meditate successfully.
Or you can cross your legs. Place your hands in your lap, facing upwards, or cross your fingers gently.
Lying down is excellent for visualization practices. But since the mind relaxes during meditation, you may fall asleep if you’re lying down. This might be an issue if you’re practicing concentrative meditation.
Choose a place that isn’t too soft, like the floor. Lie with your feet slightly apart. Your arms should be by your side, not touching your body, and your palms should face up. The head shouldn’t be too far from the floor. So if you have a cushion beneath your head, make sure it’s thin.
Meditating while lying down can be an excellent remedy for people who have difficulties falling asleep, especially when you’re doing it on the bed.
Walking meditation is wonderful when you get tired from meditating cross-legged. It helps you maintain the serenity after your sitting session.
Make sure you have loose, comfortable clothing and shoes. Walk one step at a time, slowly and mindfully. Notice how your body’s weight shifts with each step. You can also attach a mantra with each step to help you concentrate.
Also check out: 10 Reasons Why You Should Not Meditate
Your meditation posture affects the quality of your practice. The more stable and comfortable you are, the better you’ll be able to concentrate.
To recap, sitting cross-legged for hours isn’t necessary for an amateur meditator. However, for an aspirant who wishes to walk the spiritual path, mastery of posture is indispensable. Stretching helps, but you can only learn the posture by sitting still like a rock.
Good luck and happy meditating! 😊