What are the best postures for Meditation?
Meditation posture is important. The main point about how you sit is to be comfortable, relaxed, alert, and confident. If the best way to achieve this for you is sitting in a chair, then sit in a chair. Other recommended ways include sitting cross-legged on a cushion or on a meditation stool, but we can meditate in any position.
The connection between mind and body is deeply mysterious. If your meditation is half-hearted, the body tends to feel lifeless and heavy. Similarly, if the way you sit in meditation is naturally settled, focused, awake, and present, it helps the mind to be that way too.
If your meditation posture is sitting in a chair, find one in which you can sit upright. Keep your feet flat on the floor to give a sense of being grounded and, if you can, rest your back in a self- supporting position rather than leaning against the chair back. The self-supporting position carries the message of wakefulness.
If you are comfortable sitting on the floor you can experiment with different arrangements of cushions to find a comfortable and upright position. Experiment with cushion height and ways of crossing the legs to find the most stable and comfortable position.
Meditation stools can prove very comfortable, there are many types on the market, or you can try making your own. Again, it is important to experiment with height and this is likely to change as you become more experienced.
If sitting upright is a problem, you can try practising lying down. It is a challenge trying to stay and feel awake when lying down to meditate, but if you are able to do so, this is actually a good position for meditation. You do not have to feel discouraged about it as if it were not correct. It is correct, but for most people it is quite difficult.
It is important not to force yourself into any particular posture but instead to be sensitive to the needs of your own body. Meditation is not an endurance test. It is about waking up and being happy!
Should eyes be closed or open in meditation?
In this form of Buddhist meditation the eyes remain open, looking four to five feet ahead of you on the floor. Keep the eyes half open or fully open, whichever feels most natural. In either case, it is important to have a ‘soft focus’, not staring hard at anything, but just resting the eyes, rather as you might when listening intently to music or looking out of the window. It is like being aware of the world around you in your peripheral vision, but not as an object to focus on.
It may take some practice to become comfortable having your eyes open in this way during meditation, especially if you are used to meditating with them closed. But it is strongly recommended that you persevere. The problem with meditating with the eyes closed all the time is that the meditation can become a kind of inner world you withdraw into that you have to leave as soon as you stop meditating. The entire orientation of this practice is to remain connected with the world around you. With the eyes open, you stay connected and open to the world.