If you have room it is lovely to create a space to regularly use for your mediation it may just be a favourite armchair with cushions and a blanket or you may be lucky enough to have space in a spare room or conservatory to create a beautiful meditation room, whatever you have available make sure it is warm, quiet and comfortable.
If you have the room for it a meditation altar can really help to focus your mind. It could be a small side table, coffee table or even a little shelf. If you don’t have room for something fixed you could use a small tea tray to bring out when you mediate (minus the teapot and cakes …although…).
Place whatever items you feel drawn to on your altar it might be a candle or two, some crystals, items from nature such as leaves, pebbles and shells, an image of deity or your totem animal and room for an incense burner. Go with what works for you, items will probably find their way there subconsciously anyway.
I have a meditation shawl well actually it is more of a blanket. It is a beautiful soft material and has lots of fabulous colours in the pattern. I only use it when I meditate either to sit on or to wrap around me, somehow it helps as a bit of a prompt as if my brain sees it and says “there’s the meditation shawl…time to focus”. And of course it keeps me warm because once you sit still for a while your body temperature usually drops a bit.
Get into position.
Do you have to twist your legs into a pretzel shape for the meditation to work? Um…no most definitely not because unless you are super bendy it would be incredibly uncomfortable and for a lot of us impossible anyway.
Here are some different positions used in Buddhist and Hindu traditions, some of them are simple, some may take practice and one or two of them I personally wouldn’t attempt as I would get stuck and need assistance to be untangled…but go with what you find easiest and most comfortable:
Burmese position – this is where the legs are crossed with both knees resting flat on the floor with one ankle in front of the other (not over).
Half Lotus position (Hankafuza) – you place your left foot onto the right thigh and tuck the right leg under your left thigh.
Full Lotus position (Kekkafuza/Padmasana) – place each foot onto the opposite thigh, this will probably be difficult at first but with practice your leg muscles should loosen up. If it is painful don’t do it! And definitely don’t attempt this one if you have dodgy knees.
Easy pose (Sukhasana) – sitting comfortably crossed legged.
Accomplished pose (Siddhasana) - Sitting down one heel is brought to the groin then the opposite ankle placed over the first leg with the toes and the heel of the second foot resting in the fold between the though and calf of the first leg beneath it whilst keeping the spine straight.
Kneeling position (Seiza) – kneel with your hips resting on your ankles. This one can seem uncomfortable at first but with practice it is quite a restful position.
Chair position – this doesn’t really need any explanation does it? Just sit in a chair, it is perfectly acceptable to do so just try and keep your back straight.
Standing position – if you can’t sit comfortably for long periods of time then this one should suit you. Stand straight with your feet shoulder width apart, your heels slightly closer together than your big toes. Place your hands over your tummy, right hand over left and keep your knees loose (i.e. not locked straight).
Where you place your hands when meditating is also up to you but there are a couple of traditional ways; lay your hands on your knees palms facing up and open ‘to receive’. Or held in the ‘cosmic mudra’ (mudra is Sanskrit for seal or gesture) shape by placing your dominant hand palm upwards holding your other hand (also palm up) with the thumbs just touching.
Zen meditation is often practiced using a special round cushion called a zafu; the cushion is used to raise the hips forcing the knees to touch the ground. Having a cushion (it doesn’t have to be round, one from your couch will suffice) can make sitting more comfortable, just tuck it under your butt.
Asana – in yoga Asana is literally ‘the art of sitting still’ and any posture that helps maintain and restore your well being and help with your flexibility and health. Asanas are often referred to as ‘yoga positions’. Any position that we sit or stand in is an asana whilst a yoga posture should really be called a ‘yogasana’
Do it your way
At the end of the day I think the most important thing is to make sure you are comfortable and can stay in the chosen position for long enough to meditate.
If you find it easier to lie down on your bed, the sofa or the floor that do it. If you prefer to just sit in your favourite armchair, chaise lounge or deck chairs then do it.
I often sit on a big cushion placed on the floor either with my legs loosely and most importantly comfortably crossed or I occasionally sit on the floor with my legs straight out in front of me.
At the moment I have a quilt that I made years ago that I lay out on the floor of my Witchy Parlour (our spare room) and place a shakti mat on top. When I am not using it, I just roll it all up and pop it in the corner of the room.
Taken from: Pagan Portals Meditation by Rachel Patterson