30 August 2010

Yes, Your Posture Matters.

Ideally, one should practice meditation in all activities at all times. Even in sleep: Here, Donnie the Dharma cat demonstrates the traditional Lion Posture for meditation during rest:

He mostly gets it anyway: if your body is configured as a male this time around, you should lie down on your right side, with your torso slightly curved, right hand supporting the head and left arm resting gently on your left side. If you inhabit a female body, the principle remains the same but the directions are reversed from Donnie's demonstration above: lie on your left side instead. This is a traditional approach; try it and you may see the value in it over time. It may or may not help to snuggle with a stuffed animal as Donnie is doing.

The need to attend to your posture is more immediately obvious in seated, standing, and walking meditation for most of us. As you meditate, you become increasingly aware of your breathing. If your posture is poor, then your breath is stopped up or shortened and the circulation of blood and energy through the body is restricted. Worse, you put a strain on some of your joints and muscles, and that kind of fatigue gets tiresome fast. These outcomes are not conducive to helpful mental states. What you want is an upright posture that supports the breathing and the internal flow, and that more or less supports itself: not too loose, not too tight.

This is something that is impossible to teach yourself properly, even with a mirror. Find a friend to help you settle into a posture where your knees are lower than your hips (put something under your rump like a cushion to lift the hips up), your shoulders are directly over your hips, your navel is in line with your nose, and your chin is slightly pointed down. Lift your heart a bit. If you can, find that sweet spot where the bones are doing most of the structural work of holding you upright, so you can relax more of the muscles. Ah! It helps for some to visualize a thread from the heavens supporting your head like a puppet on a cable and lifting you up, so you can release any tension in your hips.

The same principles apply when standing or walking: upright but not rigid, relaxed but not lax. When you stand or walk, really stand and really walk: don't fidget and fuss with things, just get settled and be present. Also when it is time for rest: be like Donnie and put aside the day's mouse-chasings and really rest with all your energy. (Funny how that can be a lot more difficult than it should be, no?)

No comments:

Post a Comment