Sunday, November 2, 2008

Meditation Posture

A posture (iriyapatha) is a position the body is held in. The Buddhist scriptures frequently speak of four postures – walking (gacchanta), standing (thita), sitting (nisinna) and lying down (sayana, M.I,57). The significance of posture in Buddhism pertains mainly to the practise of meditation. During the preliminary stages of meditation the Buddha recommended (M.I,56) that one sit (nisidati), with the legs crossed (pallankam) and the back straight (uju kayam). Most people find it helpful to put a pillow under their buttocks, place their hands either in their lap or on their knees and close their eyes. Some meditators might find it suits them better to sit on a chair rather than on the floor. The Visuddhimagga makes the helpful suggestion that meditators should try different postures for three days each and then decide on the one that is most comfortable for them (Vis.128). The two most important aspects of good meditation posture are (1) that the back be straight without being rigid so as to facilitate clear breathing, and (2) that the body be relaxed and comfortable so that discomfort does not become a distraction (S.V,156).
Those whose goal is to develop mindfulness, should do so with a regimen of regular sitting practise. However, after their mindfulness has been strengthened, it is necessary to then try to broaden it by becoming mindful during all activities, i.e. while in any of the four postures. The Buddha said: ‘A monk has full awareness while coming and going, while reaching out his hands or drawing them back, while putting on his robes and carrying his bowl, while eating and drinking, chewing and tasting, even while defecating and urinating. He has full awareness while walking, standing and sitting, while falling to sleep and waking up, while talking and remaining silent’ (M.I,57).

1 comment:

Terrance said...

I am so happy to read that there is a lying down (sayana, M.I,57) posture ! :-)

It's my favorite posture especially when getting up early in the morning.