Andrew J. Kelley
The Boston Buddha
The most asked question when I introduce meditation to anyone is, “Does it matter how I sit, and do I need to sit cross-legged like a pretzel on the floor to meditate?”
My response is always the same, “As my teacher davidji says, ‘The the key is to be comfortable. If you’re not comfortable, it’s just easier for you to give up meditating altogether.'”
Unless we’re doing a body scan or some chakra toning, it’s preferable to sit up. People have a tendency to fall asleep when they lay down, but other than that, sitting in a particular posture really isn’t that important to me.
There are many meditation disciplines that emphasize sitting “the right way” quite a bit. When I take yoga, in the beginning of class, I’m given direction on how to sit formally in a seven-pointed posture. It makes sense because certain seated positions not only open us up physically but also open us up emotionally. When our posture is open, when our spine is erect and our hands are not crossed in front of us, we feel more open and confident! In fact, when you sit straight up you get more oxygen to the brain making it easier to learn.
Over the years I’ve found that while the posture we use in a formal class is useful, we sometimes get so caught up on perfecting and maintaining that perfect posture that we become less open and more rigid. For example, we get wrapped up on how to make the perfect seat (adding blankets, bolsters, etc.) so our legs won’t fall asleep, so we start to hyper-focus on perfecting “the one seat.”
I never sit on the floor at home. I sit on a couch with with a blanket over me.
A few questions for you to think about as you find YOUR seat – whether it’s slouchy or straight:
- Are you open or closed off?
- Do you sit with ease?
- Is your approach simple or rigid?
- Are you thinking too much about the body during the meditation?
What I try to do in my seat is cultivate an inner attitude for openness. What’s most important is that we approach meditation with the quality of being relaxed, open and alert — especially in the beginning. The last thing I want to be thinking about during my meditation is how much pain in my body is in – I really don’t need the extra distractions… I do fine with distraction all by myself. So, it’s all about our inner attitude.
Andrew J. Kelley, aka The Boston Buddha, teaches his Morning Mindfulness program in the public elementary schools in Milton MA., and teaches workshops for the Middle and High school border students at Milton Academy, Brookline Lawerence Middle School, and Newton’s Bigelow Middle School. Andy conducts numerous “school teacher” training workshops and frequently collaborates with schools and organizations to bring meditation and mindfulness courses to children in schools all over the country. Andy’s mantra is, “Meditation for Everyone”. He teaches everyday people how to meditate so they can be more productive in their careers and happier in their lives. You can learn more about him at www.thebostonbuddha.com.