Meditation is an art that has been practiced for millennia. Meditation poses, much like yoga, may look unnecessarily complicated or uncomfortable. It is actually quite the opposite. The ideal meditation pose is the one you can settle into and feel natural in.
Meditation allows us to control our thoughts and feelings, keeping us grounded in the only real moment which exists, the fleeting present moment. No longer allow life to pass you by as you pass through time stuck in an in-between version of reality. Neither the past you remember full of wrongdoings and negativity nor the terrible futures you worry about as you envision are real.
Like many of us, you may have issues with your anger and irritability. You may have trouble being productive at work, thinking creatively or feeling joy in life. Maybe you are forgetful, want to be more compassionate or even experience a closer relationship with God or the universe. Whatever your motivation for meditation, relax, breathe deeply and join us in your ultimate meditation poses guide. With a little bit of practice, you can enjoy watching your over-active, intrusive, invasive thoughts float by instead of catching you up in a whirlwind of false negative emotions.
WHAT IS MEDITATION?
Meditation is the practice of mental stillness. It enables a host of benefits including reduced stress, increased happiness, enhanced clarity and in some, enlightenment. Several religions including Hinduism, Buddhism and even Christianity practice this ancient art. But you don't have to be religious to practice this old-school art. It can be a completely secular practice. Hundreds of various styles of meditation and meditation poses exist.
BENEFITS OF MEDITATION
Countless reasons exist to commit to a meditation practice. Some use it as a spiritual practice such as gaining inner peace. Others use it to realize more tangible health benefits. Modern science is only now beginning to understand what humanity has known for thousands of years. Let's discuss the most common ones.
Meditation is perfect for those who suffer from anxiety or stress. Anxiety often stems from overactive thinking. If you suffer from overactive thinking, learn to watch your thoughts float by rather than drowning under their strong current. This practice also develops stress resilience, the amount of stress you can deal with before being thrown off-center. Being able to visualize your thoughts as fleeting things allows you to remain cool, calm and collected as life storms around you.
Focus and Productivity
Distraction is slowly but surely becoming the new normal in our modern culture. We as a people are now more distracted than ever before. Meditation reduces stress and promotes clear thinking, helping you improve your focus and productivity. It is much easier to focus and work productively in a relaxed frame of mind.
Research shows that only practicing 15 minutes of mindful meditation per day improves your ability to make rational business decisions. It also reduces the unsettled, restless, capricious mindset we find ourselves in each day. If you watch your thoughts float by rather than spin out of control, your newfound level-headedness makes it significantly easier to focus.
Research has shown that meditation increases the amount of gray matter throughout your brain in such areas as sensory perception, speech, memory, and emotions. Practice simple mindfulness meditation for 30 days straight and enjoy a larger hippocampus, vital for memory formation and learning. Meditation also protects against age-related mental decline. It slows the thinning process of the frontal cortex, preserving your memory for longer.
Creativity is crucial for everyone. Creativity is indispensable in the business world, and that does not just extend to the marketing and advertising departments. Accountants can creatively stretch budgets when necessary or come up with ways to earn more revenue to keep the bottom line in line. Outside of business, sometimes it takes a little creative thinking to temporarily fix your car or make a meal without going to the grocery store until payday. Meditation changes the way we think about things, so we find more solutions to problems than those who do not meditate.
Increases Compassion and Gratitude
Meditation changes the way we perceive and treat those around us. In our hyper-connected, growing and possibly more aggressive world, we could all use a little more compassion and empathy in our lives. Those who meditate show increased levels of compassion, self-sacrifice, and empathy than those who did not. You experience these positive byproducts even if you only meditate to reduce stress. Develop peace within yourself, and it will naturally extend outward to those you engage with on a daily basis.
If you can be grateful for your current life situation will benefit you greatly. All forms of meditation, but particularly gratitude meditation, helps you be grateful more often. The more grateful you are for things in your life, the happier and more joyful you will be. Some meditations recommend specific meditation poses, but for the most part, you can choose any of the meditation poses that work best for you.
You cannot quantify happiness using any scientific method. It is all qualifiable and subjective. However, meditation allows you to know yourself on a deeper level, experience less anxiety and stress and have a calmer approach to life. This allows you to feel more happiness in your life. Some traditions have goals such as meditation helping to bring equanimity and awareness in your daily life.
The mind is the main control panel for life. Take the time to fine-tune this panel making greater levels of joy, compassion, love, empathy, happiness, and calmness come effortlessly. Change the world you see around you by developing positive perceptions about life.
Focus on the Present
Do you ruminate nearly constantly over things that happened months or years ago? Do you have trouble letting go of what people did to you in the past? By noticing when you are over-thinking, you can consciously direct your attention to the present. Create distance between yourself and your dis-empowering thoughts. Do you ever feel like life is passing you by?
Many of us spend our time living in false worlds of the past and the non-existent future. When we do this, we are not truly living. We are merely passing through time in an in-between space that is only partially real. Meditation is a gateway to the present, the only real moment which exists, no matter how fleeting.
Reduces Anger and Irritability
Meditation does much to help with anger and irritability. Meditation allows you to recognize thoughts before you direct them outward, saying things you do not really mean. Additionally, it helps you build compassion and empathy for other people and reduce stress and anxiety all of which reduces irritability and anger.
WHICH MEDITATION POSES ARE BEST FOR BODY AND MIND?
Each individual is unique and what works for your friend may not work for you. Meditation poses are about calming and centering yourself, focusing on your existence in the here and now. The best position for you to meditate in is the one that allows you to focus your mind and relax your body. If you struggle to sit comfortably in one position, end your session for the time being. With experience, you will find a comfortable position and quickly settle into it. Try to meditate for five, 10 or 15 minutes the first time. It takes time and practice to be able to focus thoughts for hours at a time on the first try.
Try to create a quiet space in your home free from distractions to dedicate to your meditation. Much like we are likely to sleep when we go to bed or exercise when we go to the gym, your mind will associate this space with a place of quiet reflection and grounding. The following is a list of meditation poses that you can choose from:
- Sukhasana, or Easy Pose - sit on your meditation seat with legs crossed loosely and both feet resting below the opposite knee or thigh. This position is recommended for beginners as this is a natural position for many of us.
- The Half Lotus - cross your legs with one foot resting on the opposite thigh. Your other foot folds underneath the top leg and rests below the thigh or knee.
- The Full Lotus - also known as Padmasana, cross your legs with each foot resting on the opposite thigh.
- Vajrasana - kneel and sit back onto your feet, or place a cushion or yoga props between your legs if it is more comfortable.
- Chair - if you meditate in a chair, sit away from the back while placing your feet on the floor firmly and aligned with your hips and knees. You can also meditate lying down or standing up as long as you pay attention to your posture. If you lie down, place your feet on the ground with your knees up to help you stay awake.
No matter which posture you choose, it is important to keep proper alignment to support your body and promote mental calmness. Keep these tips in mind:
Elongate the Spine
A firm foundation is of critical importance once you have settled in on your meditation position. If it does not help to visualize your spine as a stack of coins, think of it like an arrow or a rod from your skull through your bottom. Lift yourself up through your spine and feel uplifted when you sit down to meditate.
Rest Your Hands
Rest your hands wherever is comfortable for you. Some people naturally rest their hands on their lap. Drop your hands at your sides and pick them up at the elbow, dropping them palms down on your thighs. Your thighs are a natural axis point to rest your hands on, providing better support for your spine as it is upright. Sitting with your palms down relaxes the flow of energy throughout the body.
If palms down is not comfortable for you, place your right hand on top of your left with your thumbs just barely touching. Rest them on your lap at your belly button. This creates more heat and energy in the body which can help to keep you awake. Symbolically, the right hand represents compassion and the left wisdom. This marries the two.
Relax the Shoulders
Allow the muscles in your back and shoulders to relax. If it helps, push your shoulders slightly back. This creates a strong back and an open front body. This posture leaves us vulnerable as we expose our tender heart to the world.
Tuck In the Chin
Tuck in your chin slightly. Do not go so far that you are looking directly down into your lap, but do not hold your head so far upwards you feel worn out.
Open the Jaw
Allow your facial musculature to relax by hanging your jaw open. Placing the tongue up against the roof of the mouth allows for clear breathing and slows down the swallowing process. This can be distracting.
Rest the Gaze
Relax your gaze between two and four feet on the ground in front of you. Maintain a loose gaze while resting your eyes without focusing on any one thing in particular. While practicing meditation poses is not a time to hide from our life. Face it with your eyes open. It is a time to look directly at who and where we are. Keeping your eyes open gestures toward that intention. Also, it will help you stay awake if you are new to meditation.
You may close your eyes if you make a conscious decision from the beginning which method you will implement. It is distracting if you fidget back and forth between the options throughout the entire session. Try not to daydream, suffer from excessive thoughts or allow yourself to be distracted if you close your eyes.
ALIGNMENT AND THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND
No matter which of the postures you find works best for you, keep in mind four factors.
The idea behind a session of meditation poses is training mindfulness, whether that is self-love, relaxation or anything else you need to focus on during that session. You do not want there to be any unnecessary physical pain or discomfort to distract you throughout your session. If you associate your session with discomfort, you are unlikely to practice it consistently. The posture you choose should be comfortable enough for you to sit mindfully with no pain.
As you settle into your daily practice, allow your body to achieve a sense of balance and stability. Gently rocking your body forward, backward, then side to side like a pendulum, you will eventually find your balance. Once you have found the sweet spot for your meditation posture, do your best to stay there.
Most people experience a natural release in tension while practicing meditation poses. When you have settled into one of your meditation poses, check up on your body. Your neck, face and shoulder muscles should be relaxed. Pay attention to your legs, next. If they are tense, make a conscious effort to relax them. If you are new to meditation, listen to your body. Do not hurt your knees because you think it is necessary for you to be in the proper position. If you are on a cushion and your knees cannot comfortably reach the ground, support them with a pillow. Use a cushion or pad to gently keep your hips slightly higher than your knees as well.
Keep your back as aligned as possible as you settle into your favorite meditation posture. Some people visualize the length of their spine as a stack of coins. This helps to prevent them from leaning over too much in one direction, keeping the imagined coins from tumbling over. There are six points to consider when focusing on alignment when meditating. The first is your sitting position. Here are the other five.
Meditation Poses - Conclusion
Meditation is an ancient art humanity has been practicing for millennia. Only now is modern science beginning to prove what practitioners have known for countless generations. Meditation comes with a host of benefits including relieving stress and anxiety, reducing irritability and anger, bringing you into the present, making you happier, increasing your levels of compassion and gratitude, enabling creative thinking, increasing focus and productivity and improving your memory.
Meditation has been practiced by several religions in the past including Buddhism, Hinduism, and Christianity. It can be practiced spiritually, but it also a very effective secular practice. While there are several positions you can sit in, it is important to sit in a fashion that is comfortable for you. If you are uncomfortable, you are unlikely to practice regularly. Keep in mind comfort, stillness, relaxation and alignment as you settle into your position.
It is important to choose the posture that works best for you. Keep in mind that the position that works for your body may change over time, if something doesn't feel right, experiment with a different posture. These meditation poses include sukhasana, the half lotus, the full lotus, vajrasana and the chair. It is also okay to meditate standing up or lying down; the important thing is that you meditate!
If you can dedicate time and space daily to your mental and physical wellbeing through the practice of meditation and tie together your pose and points of posture, you will find your life improving even when you are not meditating.