The 4 Seated Meditation Positions
The goal of meditation is to connect the mind, body, and spirit. By taking these moments out of our day, we eventually unlock an inner sense of self-awareness of our emotional wellbeing and greater mindfulness- the ability to be present in the current moment. In order to do this, though, our bodies must be in a state of physical comfort and ease. Zafu and zabuton meditation cushion sets are specifically designed for the purpose of making seated meditation more comfortable. Although any seat or cushion will do to start with, we highly recommend getting your own meditation cushion set (or at least a zabuton floor pillow) if you plan on making meditation a consistent part of your life. These cushions are specifically designed to increase comfort during seated meditation and yoga poses. Keep reading to learn about the traditional sitting meditation positions. All of these poses have wonderful spiritual and physical benefits. If you’re looking to learn more about how to get into the meditative mindset, click here.
The full lotus meditation position is a cross-legged pose in which the meditator sits straight-spined with each foot placed on top of the opposite thigh. This pose is intended to imitate the blossoming of the lotus and encourages enlightenment in the meditator. The full lotus pose has become heavily associated with the Buddha, as he is commonly depicted in this position and seated on lotus flowers in art and statues to symbolize his enlightened state.
This position is considered to be an advanced meditation pose and can be rather difficult for beginners and those with limited flexibility in their legs, hips, or ankles. It may take some time to train the body to achieve this position. Use a Zabuton cushion as your seat for cushioning and add support cushions as needed for maximum comfort.
Half lotus meditation pose is considered an intermediate meditation position and is a great way to practice building up flexibility in order to do the full lotus pose. It is done exactly how it sounds- by doing half of the full lotus pose. The meditator should sit on their Zabuton with their spine straight and cross-legged, but rather than placing both feet over the opposite leg as in full lotus, only one foot is placed over the opposite leg, while the other remains on the floor. Practice this pose regularly and alternate which leg is raised in order to increase flexibility in both legs. The Buddha and other bodhisattvas are also commonly depicted in this pose.
This beginner meditation pose is the easiest of the three we’ve mentioned so far because it doesn’t require any extra flexibility past the ability to sit cross-legged while seated. The only way Burmese meditation pose differs slightly from just simply sitting criss-cross is that the legs should be pulled close enough to the body so that the tops of the feet touch the floor/ cushion, rather than the sides of the feet. As with the previous poses, the spine should be straight while sitting in this position. Siddhasana and Padmasana are mentioned in ancient Indian texts and art, and are believed to be the first meditation positions invented.
Unlike the other meditation positions on this list, seiza pose comes from Japan. Seiza (pronounced say’-zah) has been the formal way of sitting since ancient times in Japan and is now, in the modern day, practiced in traditional ceremonies and settings there. It is attained by kneeling on the knees and resting the buttocks on the feet while keeping the back straight and upright. This position is believed to be great for improving flexibility and posture over time. It is common, especially for Westerners who are not accustomed to sitting on the floor for extended periods of time, to use a zafu and zabuton meditation cushion set or a meditation bench as a seat while practicing seiza in order to prevent ankle and knee pain. Our Hi-Zafu cushions in studio or organic are also great for those who want the comfort and flexibility of a zafu cushion while practicing seiza meditation pose, but are a bit less flexible and/or need extra support.
Whether you are brand new to the world of meditating or an expert, there is a seated meditation posture that works for everyone- regardless of experience and physical abilities. If none of the above positions work for you or are comfortable, feel free to simply sit in a normal chair with your back straight to meditate. Meditation is not about straining your body or hurting yourself- that’s the exact opposite of the goal of meditation! Try all of these positions out to see which works best for you, and be sure to use all of the many resources we have available here on DharmaCrafts to perfect your meditation practice.