How to sit a long time (many hours) comfortably

  1. Have a hierarchy of sitting options, and move through them as pain and discomfort dictate. It can be useful to spend a minute or two observing pain and its effects on your mind, but in the long run its best to make sitting meditation something you enjoy, and the best way to do that is understanding what causes pain and discomfort to build up in the body, and remove those causes.

For example: maybe you can sit cross leg on the floor for 30 min before discomfort becomes strong enough for you to maintain citta passadhi. Switch to the next siting posture in your hierchy. Maybe you can do 20 min in that. Then switch again.

suggested options:

  1. the type of chair that supports your butt in a downward angle and locks your legs in place,
    It gives you a slight backbend, a nice counterstretch to a cross leg floor sit.

  2. a stool. Or if you have a chair, don’t use the back. some ergonomic stools have adjustable angle on seat.

  3. standing

  4. kneeling position on the floor, with a spacer (to take pressure of knees and legs). Like that ergonomic stool pictured above, the kneeling posture also gives you a slight backbend, a nice counterstretch to the normal cross leg seating posture which is biased toward a forward bend.

building the spacer for free: For example, I have several books on economics and finance, which have the right dimensions of not being too big to adjust leg width comfort, but not too small like a bicycle seat that will put too much pressure on your butt and not enough leg support to relieve pressure. The books are stacked about 9 inches high (maybe for you only 4-6 inches work better), on top of that I arrange a folded blanket as padding, and sit on it. Don’t use religious books, or anything that others revere. Only use books or material that are filthy and appropriate to close proximity to your butt. Deva protectors for other religions may kill or maim you if you sit on a bible for example. This is not a joke.

don’t worry about perfect posture. Be aware of where you are, with respect to good posture, and take the necessary steps to make sure you’re moving steadily in that direction, but it takes time so don’t force it. When one part of the body is messed up, other parts will get messed up to compensate.

Here is the best technique I learned, to gradually and organically fix posture, from yoga. Take a really long comfortable breath, so you’re literally inflating like a balloon, and you can feel your spine lengthening, try to inflate into “good posture”. Then, on the exhale, relax, mentally trying to gently maintain ideal posture, but let it settle into the natural sustainable state, even it’s crooked (for now). If you stretch 5 minutes before and after every sit, cease bad practices in normal daily life that lead to bad posture, and just make sure you’re moving toward good posture, eventually it will get there. For jhana, you can be lying down or sitting in a chair or standing, so crooked imperfect posture is not something you need to get tense about.

Some exercises to do for the 5 minutes before and after sit, see msg #4 in

If I charged you 10,000$ for one day of private lessons on this, and you got the hang of it, you would consider it one of the greatest bargains ever. Well, how does free of charge sound?

These yoga poses were particularly helpful for opening hips and legs for full lotus seated posture:

In that directory, you should see some videos for how to do:
plough (halasana)
pigeon (the pigeon sequence video is what I did every day to help lotus)
iyengar/seated angle pose and bound angle pose

These exercises, some of them new to me, others similar to what I improvised on my own, look promising. He doesn’t instruct in English, but the physical demonstration is clear.
filename: “lotus prep indian dude”


Here’s an insight that will help you. The arms and legs are the same thing. They’re just proportioned differently. We’re upright walkers, are legs support our whole body weight, so it’s big and muscular in comparison to the arms.

But if you learn to really relax the legs when you walk and stand, tensions don’t build up day by day into knots in your hips and legs. Stretch and accupressure to melt existing knots, samma sati to retrain awareness to relax and prevent deepening existing knots.

The legs and arms are the same. If you train yourself to relax your legs all the time at every opporunity, you’ll be able to do full lotus (cross leg posture) as easily as one folds their arms across the chest.

I can get into full lotus without using my hands, and can sit comfortably for more than 3 hours. All it takes is 5 minutes before and after every sit to maintain this ability.

To give you an example of how it improved naturally over time, when I first started meditating, I could do full lotus for about 2 minutes before pain became unbearable. 5 years later, I could sit about 20-30min.

But knowing the techniques I know now, if I could go back to teach my 25 year old self, I’d estimate with 1.5 hour of targeted yoga/taiji and accupressure daily, in addition to 5 min before and after every sit, it would probably take about 1 year (also with celibacy, that’s critical!) to be able to sit for one hour in full lotus comfortably.

If your goal is just to be able to sit in a stool or chair, you’re still going to benefit enormously from these exercises in speeding up the proccess of melting energy blockages.

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I have found lying down to be the most comfortable position, though staying awake can be a problem. :yum:


I gave up on conventional sitting postures years ago for both meditation and work.

I use an inclined, padded backboard that reaches up to the level of my ears.
Mostly it support my middle to upper back.
The angle of the board is adjustable.

When the padding supports my back but leaves my shoulders free I can stretch my shoulders back to avoid the shoulders forward crouch that years of working with a keyboard tends to inflict.
I usually sit with my feet stretched out in front of me with my feet usually about 1 to 2 hands width lower than my hips. This provides a mild stretch to my legs and lower back.

With a work surface at a proper height I can work at a computer for 12 hours a day or more without discomfort. This seems to be more effective that a daily routine of physical therapist and yoga recommended stretching and strengthening.

My first entry into jhana was from a lying down position, and once I could do jhana at will, I couldn’t do it from a sitting posture reliably, only certain hours of the day, but could always do it from a lying posture (because lying down relaxed tight knots in hips and legs during sitting).

After enough of years of yoga, taiji, then I could finally do jhana in sitting posture anytime I wanted.

Also, the lion posture the suttas talk about makes a pretty big difference. by lying on the side, you don’t have the body weight pressing down on the main energy channel that runs down the backside (for people sleeping on the back). Lying on the side, it’s easier to stay awake as well, so you can just get the sleep credits you need, but till stay awake and rememberful (sati).

This is such a sad state of affairs (for much of the modern world working up to 12 hours a day sedentary is so bad for your health). Certainly use whatever kind of ergonomic chair you need to be comfortable. You may have seen some of the studies with the detrimental effects.

But if your goal is strong samadhi or even just good health for a normal worldly lifestyle, best to incorporate 5-10 minute breaks every hour or two with some vigorous walking or some kind of vigorous exercise, pushups in your office, jumprope, etc. If you live to be old, you’ll regret sitting in a chair for 12 hours straight.

Exactly what “difference” does it make? And could you give a more detailed description of your lion posture? I mean anything from positions of hands, legs, etc., to types of breathing, state of mind, energy movement, and so on. Also, are you using it for jhana? or any other sort of meditational practice. Or, simply for getting “sleep credits?”

I found stretching onto the floor on my stomach with my arms and fingers pointing down with head in prayer as well. Tibetan Buddhist pray like this. I use the stool in the OP for less intimate meditations. I alwats wondered if the same results achieved in traditonal sitting meditation as with others. Is that true?

Sorry, I’m not sure what you’re asking. Are you asking if sitting on a floor in cross legs, is the samadhi quality as other postures such as chair sitting, standing, lying down? If so, yes. I’ve heard of taiji and internal arts and qigong masters being able to enter even into a formless samadhi while standing. Lying down is even easier to relax than sitting, the downside is it’s easy to fall asleep. When I stand, I can get about 80-90% as relaxed as I am sitting. The reason for the difference is in the back of my mind, I know if I’m standing on concrete for example, if I relax too much and fall asleep for a moment, like someone driving sleepily on a road knows they could die. Your head hitting concrete is like a watermelon splitting open. From a cross leg seated position, if you fall asleep, falling in 3 directions is no danger, just a little startled, I suppose you could injure yourself if you fall backwards while seated, but most people would have a forward bending bias, so unlikely.

The difference between lying on your back vs. lying in lion posture, lying on the right side, is similar to the difference between sitting on a stool (with no back to lean on) versus sitting in a chair with hard wooden back. leaning back makes it easier to fall asleep, and having your back tissue compressed against the chair doesn’t feel as good as sitting in a stool when sitting for long sits (hours). You can do any type of meditation you want lying down as you would do in sitting, it’s just easy to fall asleep.

I do a slightly different lion posture, it’s taoist hermit technique called something like “dragon coiling up”. Instead of legs straight stacked right on top of each other, one leg is more straight, the other is slightly more curved, so you don’t have knees stacked on each other building pressure. lying on right side, left hand on dan tien (belly), right hand under my right cheek, high enough pillow to be comfortable. I don’t do this when I sleep 4 hours at night usually, I just sleep on my back to keep my arms from going numb.

That’s interesting. I wasn’t sure about the lying on the side position for meditation, because that’s the position I usually sleep in. I’ll experiment further.:slightly_smiling_face:

Then the Blessed One, having arranged his outer robe folded in four, lay down on his right side in the lion’s sleeping posture, with one foot on top of the other, mindful & alert, having made a mental note to get up. MN53

with metta

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Thanks. Do you know why it is lying down on the right side? Is the side important?

It’s unlikely the Pali for right has the same issues as the English for right (or correct), if that’s what you were thinking of. The sutta says right, as in not left. But I would think it’s best to choose any side you prefer as in the EBTs there’s no belief in energy channels or chakra balancing or what not to effect what side or how you sleep.

With metta

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AFAIK the EBT doesn’t say why. But from experience, you know if you try to sleep from sitting posture, even reclined somewhat in a comfortable sofa, you don’t get as good of a rest as lying down. Why? For one thing, blood and lymph have to fight gravity to circle around your head. Anyone who has had to fly on planes on long journeys has the experience you may sleep for 10 hours and still feel tired.

Lying on your right side, the heart is slightly higher, and being horizonal means blood doesn’t have to fight the force of gravity to easily circulate around your brain.

Just because the buddha didn’t talk about what happens under the hood doesn’t mean those energy channels aren’t there and aren’t operating. Similarly, you’d be wise not to dismiss any science or other discipline that has practical benefits to your health and meditation just because the EBT didn’t talk about it.

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Interesting. I usually sleep on my left hand side, so maybe that’s a good argument for lying on my right-hand side for meditation. :yum:

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Please note the right hand sided lion’s posture is in preparing to sleep, according to EBTs. But of course you could meditate, just as easily.

I read a book called Body, Mind, and Sport by John Douillard many years ago. It had a lot of information about Ayurvedic practices in it. I remember the book recommended lying on the left side to rest after lunch, as it aids in digestion and is more comfortable (the stomach being located on the left side).

After a quick search, I found this:

Left side
When you sleep on your left side, it aids your digestion. How? In our body there are two main energy channels (nadi) called Ida (moon) and Pingala (solar nadi). Breathing through Ida (which goes through the left nostril) brings calmness to your body and mind. Breathing through Pingala (right nostril) energizes and stimulates your whole being (including your digestive fire). The air always comes through one of the nostrils at a time, producing the corresponding effect.

Now, when you sleep on your left side, Pingala is at work, which means that the air gets into your body through the right nasal passage. Thus you get more energy, your digestion and metabolism increases. So Ayurveda advises to rest on the left side after the meals (well, actually not immediately; firstly you need to walk about 100 steps before lying on the side of your body).

What about sleeping on the left side?

Generally it’s OK, but it might be better to sleep on the right side.

Right side
When you are on that side of the force body, Ida nadi is working, so it calms you down and serves as a good way to beat insomnia (though not the only one, of course).

Your sleep is sound, deep and rather peaceful. Waking up is refreshing. Therefore the right side is, probably, the best position for the restful sleep.

I believe Ayurveda has been traced back to about 5000 BCE in India, so it may be that this recommendation to sleep on the right side is due to its influence.

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I think if the Buddha thought there was anything supernormal that would help someone attain enlightenment he would let everyone know. He taught for 45 years and taught the same thing repeatedly many times. His teachings are well documented and memorised.

with metta


These yoga poses were particularly helpful for opening hips and legs for full lotus seated posture:

In that directory, you should see some videos for how to do:
plough (halasana)
pigeon (the pigeon sequence video is what I did every day to help lotus)
iyengar/seated angle pose and bound angle pose

These exercises, some of them new to me, others similar to what I improvised on my own, look promising. He doesn’t instruct in English, but the physical demonstration is clear.
filename: “lotus prep indian dude”

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In statues this posture is often shown with the right/lower elbow on the ground and the head elevated & supported by the hand and upper arm.

There is no passage in the EBT’s to um offer postural support for this position?