Meditating against a tree, pillar, or wall. Which traditions/countries do this?

In what cultures, countries, or traditions is it common — or even simply the way — for monastics to sit against a tree, rock, stump, pillar, or wall (et cetera) while meditating, be it for back support or otherwise?

It seems that there is support for this practice in the suttas (pun intended), and yet the practice seems to be considered second-best by many meditators as “not-traditional” or “ideal.”

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In Thailand it’s common to see a wooden backrest like this in formal settings:


Though, as you can see, it’s often angled away to discourage actually using it haha

This is one reason we (at my temple) do most of our meditation on our own at our kuti: no pressure to perform :laughing:


I regularly use pillars, walls, or trees, when I meditate standing up (trees are not as comfortable). When I sit, I prefer a straight backed chair. That cross legged sitting was fine back in the 1980s, but that was a long time ago. I find being comfortable is more conducive to meditation.

To be fair… I am not a monastic… :sunglasses:


Ajahn Brahm, who is a monastic, often emphasises in his teachings to lay people that it is important to be comfortable and relaxed when settling down to enjoy meditation.


For quite a long time now, I’ve found sitting cross-legged with my back on a cushion against a wall to be best for me for seated meditation. Sitting in a chair doesn’t quite do it. The wall also provides helpful feedback in keeping the body erect per the suttas.

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One of the Theravada ascetic practices (dhutanga) is occasionally adapted to remain standing up even when sleeping. There was once a Thai monk at Sunnataram monastery who formerly did that practice.

" 13. Sitter’s Practice (nesajjik’anga) — living in the three postures of walking, standing and sitting and never lying down."—Wikipedia

This was in the early 90’s and to produce monks who would do that sort of thing plus monks like Ajahns Mun and Chah, requires the accumulated fervour of generations of Thai society. It couldn’t happen now, but will again some time in the future.

When I went to Sri Lanka in a forest monastery I saw A LOT of monastics (and lay men too) meditating slouched against walls/pillars. Either they were meditating or sleeping I don’t know and I should not judge but it did not look comfortable :sweat_smile: