Meditation posture

MN 10

And how, monastics, does a monastic meditate by observing an aspect of the body? Here, a monastic has gone to a wilderness, or to the root of a tree, or to an empty building. They sit down in the meditation posture, with their body erect, and focus their mindfulness right there. Mindful, they breathe in; mindful, they breathe out.

Has lord buddha mentioned any exact meditation posture somewhere? We have seen that many of the meditators use the lotus or half-lotus postures. What would be the adavantages and disadvantages(if any) of these two postures compared to easy pose? Are they suitable for men as well as women? Please share your experience/opinion. :anjal:

I generally advise people to find a posture that is basically comfortable, and that using a stool or chair is fine. There is no need for pain or yogic contortions, IMO.

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the pali for that is
pallaṅkaṃ = cross legged posture
ābhujitvā = bend into that
ujuṃ = straightened
kāyaṃ = body
paṇidhāya = intend/aspire to do

there’s a good thread on the topic here

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You can meditate standing up or lying down, of course. “Alert yet relaxed” is the best description I’ve heard of the general attitude to meditation.

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Or on a sofa! :wink: (see translation for pallaṅkaṃ)

More seriously now, a few notes I have on the topic:

From the EBTs
On the sitting position:

  • Erect body (e.g. MN118)
  • Crossed legs (e.g. MN118)
  • Motionless, steady body (SN1.18)
  • No shaking or trembling (SN54.7)

On sits:
-A sit can be:

  1. a sitting cloth (SN51.10);
  2. a folded robe (SN16.11);
  3. a pile of grass (AN6.63);
  4. made of straw (AN8.30)

Additional notes from later texts:

On sitting position:

  • Stable, well set up (Vb12 .1 535-536)
  • [Firmly] placed, properly disposed body (Ps1.3 190-191)
  • Peaceful posture tending neither to idleness nor to agitation (Vism. VIII 160)
  • 18 backbones resting end to end: no twisting of skin, flesh, sinews (Vism. VIII 160)
  • Locked thighs (Vism. VIII 160)
  • Posture allowing easy occurrence of the in-breaths and out-breaths (Vism. VIII 160)

Below are the extracts from the Vibhaṅga (Vb), Paṭisambhidāmagga (Ps) and Visuddhimagga (Vism):

Vb12 .1.535-536

  1. ‘Sits folding (the legs) crosswise’ means: He sits folding (the legs) crosswise.
  2. ‘Holding the body erect’ means: The body is erect, stable and well set-up.

Ps1.3 190-191

  1. Sits down; having folded his legs crosswise: he is seated, having folded his legs crosswise.
  2. Set his body erect: his body is erect, [firmly] placed, properly disposed.

Vism. VIII 159-160

  1. Having thus indicated an abode that is suitable to the three seasons, suitable to humour and temperament, and favourable to the development of mindfulness of breathing, he then said sits down, etc., indicating a posture that is peaceful and tends neither to idleness nor to agitation. Then he said having folded his legs crosswise, etc., to show firmness in the sitting position, easy occurrence of the in-breaths and out-breaths, and the means for discerning the object.
  2. Herein, crosswise is the sitting position with the thighs fully locked. Folded: having locked. Set his body erect: having placed the upper part of the body erect with the eighteen backbones resting end to end. For when he is seated like this, his skin, flesh and sinews are not twisted, and so the feelings that would arise moment by moment if they were twisted do not arise. That being so, his mind becomes unified, and the meditation subject, instead of collapsing, attains to growth and increase.
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but in the wilderness or near a root of a tree, one can not use a stool or a chair (thinking about the ancient era :thinking:)

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Thank you frankk.

Many merits Yasoja… good references. It seems like the sitting posture is always described as crossed legs. Actually, my question was which crossed leg posture ( lotus, half-lotus or easy pose) is much more suitable for a long time meditation practitioner to be trained.

Mind that crossed leg is the posture you have to use when you don’t easily have access to chairs, and that is probably the key reason it is the most usual posture found in the suttas.

As per MN139 what makes the path rediscovered by the Buddha unique is indeed the aspect of how the whole natural causation of real awakening possible is not a given posture or a given external practice but in fact the individual discovery of an inner pleasure born of seclusion and contentment. The pain that leads to gain in this path of no conflict is an internal one, it relates to giving up habits, making life changing choices towards renunciation, etc - it is not about hurting your knees and joints!

Maybe that is not your case but every single minute I spent cross legged and just observing pain, elements, kalapas etc, was a minute wasted and away from the possibility of contentment, rapture, tranquility, happiness and stillness.

That is why there isn’t any rule in the Vinaya, any quote in the Suttas (or even any summary in the Abhidhamma) which rules out a simple chair, or a multi step setting where one may sit and practice as something wrong or non conducive to awakening.

I actually believe that the opposite may be very well true. There is an element of blind grasping to rituals in a wrong understanding of only one way of sitting being representation of what Buddhist meditation practice should be. It may be well be a key reason for so many giving up well before the very first steps having been taken.

I don’t dispute the Buddha did seat cross legged, all in all he tried himself the whole enlightenment-through-pain thing when hanging out with jain-like freaks!

I even bet he did as well squat for many days and months while with the Niganthas, Mahavira is actually told to have achieved omniscience (kevala ñana) by squatting with knees up (ukkuda-janu)(see pic below)!

220px-Kevalajnana

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I agree with many of the points you have mentioned. Probably, these crossing leg postures give more balance to the body so that it is easy to keep the upper body erect for a long time. When the centre of gravity of the body is close to the floor, your body is more stable I guess (I am not good in physics though :wink: )
Capture

All in all,As you said; One doesn’t want to try SO HARD for those postures. :grinning:

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This article covers so much of the physics of the sitting posture.

Finding the right blanket is important. Some are just too thin. With the right blanket I prefer this to any fancy cushion

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I agree with your - " blind grasping at rituals". When I first started meditating in a Burmese community in Australia, they pushed me to sit on the floor crossed legged. I was leaning to prevent lower back pain and my left leg and knee was nearly vertical. I was in my 50’s, bad hips and knees. In the end I meditated standing up to which seemed strange to them - but I reminded all that this was okay, according to what I had read and been taught.

When I first came to Myanmar 5 years ago, I went to an International Meditation Center which had a narrow view on seating position and was told to push through. The worst thing for me. It delayed my progress. There are more " enlightened but yet still traditional centers in Yangon that let you bring your own small stool, so your legs are semi crossed.

This is how I do it at home. Evan my Myanmar wife sometimes sits in a low chair.

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Not necessarily on the topic of posture but relevant as it relates to stretching that can be done prior to sitting sessions I share the videos below:

To learn more about Bhante Y. Rahula, the bhikkhu in the video, see this link.

:anjal:

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To my experience are there no more special posture other than the “mental posture”, or by other words; one’s general attitude towards all things arising and ceasing

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Chairs, meditation cushions, whatever you have to do get to comfortable in the beginning is all reasonable and worthwhile.

But just be clear that a cross legged seating posture, such as half lotus, full lotus, is not grasping at rites and rituals, and there are specific energetic advantages you won’t get from other postures, like sitting in a chair.

If you plan to do serious long sits in the future, like 3 hour sits, 5 hour sits, it will make a significant energetic difference, and you will want to the necessary exercising and stretching daily to transition into a cross legged seated posture.

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:smile:

For me it is simple - I don’t have a choice. With both hips replaced and several collapsed disks, sitting for anything more than 30 mins has negative effects. At one stage when I was very ill I was bed-ridden for about 2 years. Meditation at this time was wonderful.

My usual posture for meditating is lying down, on my back. I know this is frowned upon, but I was heartened to hear Ajahn Brahm speak of when he was ill in hospital in Thailand as a young monk, and after hearing Ajhan Chah say “you will either recover or you will die” meditated there in that bed!

The usual reasons for not meditating lying down are because it is conducive to falling asleep > sloth and torpor. I can say that in years of doing it, I have only fallen asleep a few times. I have to agree with @awarewolf [quote=“awarewolf, post:14, topic:7197”]
To my experience are there no more special posture other than the “mental posture”, or by other words; one’s general attitude towards all things arising and ceasing
[/quote]
In many ways I find, expressing compassion to my body, sets up the tone.

with Metta
M

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Good on you mate, and that we are both able to listen to teachings like that and make them come alive for all to see, which is to me an extraordinary 360° all inclusive act of metta - one self gets a fair share, the teachers get their share, and for those who listen or read this get their share if they hopefully become just a tinsy bit inspired by our strivings and peaceful accomplishments

:dharmawheel:

I myself had a nice visit in hell a while ago, when one suddenly started to experience difficulties of breathing, and thereby saw ones meditation going down the drain. Hellish state was kept alive until a doctor had time to check me up, and nirvana was delivered on a prescription that fixed just a normal and natural change due to a bit advanced age and a lot of tobacco smoking for about 42 years. Today and now a non-smoker (yes that was the shock one needed) one is quite happy for such types of Hellish experiences, because how could I otherwise had found the nerve to just quit and also with no difficulties!? I dont even have to watch myself because the craving was totally burnt off just in one shocking blast, and never to return

creatures of habits are so funny to slay:hugs:

And so did I too - I had a couple of weeks where I had a great time with “maranusati”, and problems with sloth and torpor is to me just a sign that one has become “automatic” in practising, - so then its just to go back to basics and find the beginners mind again. Guess I’m a bit of a greedy type since that kind of meditation brought me down to a workable sort of spacious stillness in a swoop …

Great fun anyway, and its important to have fun as much as possible to find needed inspiration when the going gets tough

Teachers are important, but there are many kinds of teachers all around us, all the time.So I regard ones own clean heart and ears to be the Headteacher, and until now and through quite a few years of practice now, that this old heart of mine has never let me down.

Be a lamp on to oneself

Or like good old Krishnamurthi put it:

“ Truth is a pathless land:
You may remember the story of how the devil and a friend of his were walking down the street, when they saw ahead of them a man stoop down and pick up something from the ground, look at it, and put it away in his pocket. The friend said to the devil, “What did that man pick up?” “He picked up a piece of Truth,” said the devil. “That is a very bad business for you, then,” said his friend. “Oh, not at all,” the devil replied, “I am going to let him organize it."

Be very well!

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Thank you Anāgārikā Pasanna. That is an interesting article.

@mpac and @awarewolf, you people are really inspiring. Thanks for sharing your experiences. May the triple gem bless you!!!:anjal:

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Sure. I think I would make a comfy nest of leaves though. :wink:

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