The Right Posture For Meditation?

Mindfulness of Breathing
According to Master Deshimaru, right posture is at the heart of Zen meditation. Of course, a different master may disagree: this comes from the ancestry of this particular master. He is a Soto Zen monk, a tradition coming back to its founder Dogen, as parallel to Rinzai Zen founded by Eisai. I won't go into the details of these different schools in this post, but may be the subject for one in a few months. You can see them as different traditional karate schools: the goal is the same, but the way to get there is slightly different.

As I am more inclined to Soto zen, I try to follow this advice. Right posture is good, bad posture is obviously bad. The problem is that right posture can be a pain in... Well, you know how this ends.

The correct posture: you sit in the center of your zafu, with legs crossed in lotus or half lotus posture. Here comes one of the problems, although oit is advised that if you can't, you can just cross your legs. But at least you should press with your knees against the floor, tilting your hips. In a full lotus posture, your feet press your thighs and the knees the floor. Your back should be straight, with an arched spine. As the saying goes, you should press earth with your knees and heaven with your head. Put in your chin, relax and focus in your breathing.

I think the most important part is having a straight back. Of course, the rest helps: having your knees firmly grounded mean you are very stable, and can keep upright more easily. Every time I don't have my knees well-positioned and sit correctly in my zafu, my back aches pretty quickly, and I grow restless in just a few minutes.

It takes a very long time to be able to switch from cross-legged to half-lotus and then to full lotus. Currently I'm still in the cross-legged phase, still. Back when I was still training in karate, I was far more flexible and could do half-lotus for 5 minutes or so. Therefore, I just try to take it easy and don't force my joints.

How would you describe your meditation posture? What is the hardest part?

so_random has been very kind to point me to this link in the Reddit comments for this post: Meditation Posture (from Kagyu Samye Ling).

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Photo credit: A picture I took in our road trip through Iceland

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