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WHAT’S THE RIGHT SEAT FOR MEDITATION? AND WIN A MEDITATION CUSHION!


I’ve rattled on about meditation a few times here and here and here… Can you tell that I love it, that it has brought me so much? My love for it is also in the knowledge that it will keep delivering. By it – I guess what I mean is me! Meditation allows ME to bring into my life that which is beautiful, special, fruitful, exciting, real…

I am forever grateful to meditation (and my teacher)… It led me to new experiences. One being the workshop that I held with a friend, Frenchy Mayr, last Sunday. It was called Finding your Centre – stretch, breath, be still.

Frenchy and I teamed up as we both wanted to offer people the opportunity to press pause on the storm. Sit in the centre of it and just absorb. Rather than move at lightning speed through to the end of the year, not really reflecting on what has been or preparing for what is to come. We wanted to create an opportunity to become more aware through stilling the mind. Sounds contradictory, doesn’t it? I mean, surely we need to THINK to achieve something…right? Well, no, we need to quiet the monkey mind to hear the truth, that is the truth that will guide us.

But I also wanted to press pause on the whole meditation thing for a moment and scale it back. Something came up at the workshop around sitting. Yes, we can bandy about the words ‘sit, be still, listen to your breath’ yet what we tend to forget is that the actual act of sitting, in itself, is a challenge.

My beautiful meditation teacher, Carolyne Gowen of Still Your Mind, knows this too. She created a beautiful range of cushions and accessories to combat that (more on that later). But I wanted to start by breaking down the asana or the ‘seated’ meditation options.


After all, the word Asana means steady pose. This one steady pose is the quintessential cross-legged seat or Padmasana/Lotus, that we all know so well. But, it wasn’t long before ye olde yogis realised that it’s near impossible to meditate on a himalayan mountain to connect with your internal self and reach god-realisation if your hip is groaning at you, your feet are going numb and your back hurts because you can’t sit straight.

So all the asana us yogis practice are simply a series of steady poses designed to open the body and release built up tension and energy, in preparation for meditation…




1) Chair. I thought this was bizarre when I first heard of and saw this. It seemed so uncomfortable… But now, this is how I meditate at home. Choose a chair with a comfortable back and space for your hands to sit on your lap with your elbows free. Ensure your feet are firmly planted on the floor (elevate with a bolster if needed) and that you are 100% comfortable.


2) Cross leg. Keep the spine straight, thumb and forefinger pressed together and palms facing up in Jnana mudra (seal) or facing down in chin mudra on the knees.


The issue here? Most people are so tight in the hips that sitting cross-legged for a while starts to ache. Solution? Sit elevated onto a bolster/cushion or folded blanket. You want your knees to drop down lower than the hips. Slide towards the edge of the support you are on and tilt the pelvis forward slightly. This will allow you to keep elongating the spine out of the pelvis and ease the pressure in the hips. Make sure you aren’t leaning against anything as your shoulders will slump over time.
3) Meditation stool/straddle You can purchase a little wooden meditation stool that elevates you just off the ground. You sit on the stool with your legs either side of it. Similar to how you would straddle a horse. In Yoga this is a variation of Virasana or hero pose. If you don’t have or don’t want to get a meditation stool you can straddle a bolster instead. Both do the job of alleviating the hips but for some this can be strong on the quads or knees.

4) Full lotus – the holy grail of meditation seats. Most of us tight westerners have trouble with Lotus. It’s only been this year after years of yoga practice that I can practice Lotus daily. Even then I can only hold it for 5 minutes.


But, the reason this is the holy grail is because once you are locked into it, you realise why those ingenious little yogis preferred it. Your spine is immediately grounded through the sacrum whilst lifted and elongated through to the crown. It’s almost as if you can feel and visualise each chakra running along your Sushumna Nadi (spinal column on the physical body) because your posture is so perfect. You feel light yet grounded in the pose. Don’t try Lotus (please!) without the guidance of a teacher… But if it’s available to you, very easily, then try and see if you agree.

A few general tips
* Keeping the back straight, in whichever posture you meditate is a must. 

* Try to be comfortable and physically relaxed, avoid jiggling about too much.

* Keep the head straight, slightly bent forward, keep the teeth slightly apart, the jaw and tongue soft and the space between the eyebrows relaxed and soft.

* The shoulders should be relaxed and the hands can be placed on your lap if you prefer. Left palm over right for women and right over left for men  – this relates to the energy channels on the body. The left major Nadi (Ida) represents the feminine (moon, cool, calm) energy, the right major Nadi (Pingala) represents the masculine energy (sun, heat, power).

* Keeping the body warm and particular the knees and legs to avoid numbness.

* Try belly-breathing; not breathing with the chest, but from the navel and diaphragm.

* The posture should enhance meditation, not be something to overcome!

Now, back to my teacher, Carolyne and her new range. Of course, she totally gets the necessity of comfort, having taught so many students the beautiful art of Primordial Sound Meditation. As I was writing this post I remembered Carolyne had spent a lot of time perfecting her meditation cushions for this very reason – to maximise your comfort and experience when meditating. Removing some of the obstacles our bodies impose when trying to still the mind.

Now, this might seem like a shameless plug, but hey – I only write about what I love, or for those I love. And Carolyne fits both perfectly. Plus, I love to give back to people who have given to me. And she has done that more than this plug can do for her.

What I love about Carolyne’s Still Your Mind range is that it’s natural, recycled where possible, environmentally friendly and stylish – clean lines, modern colours. This is good for those out there that might not be into the more eclectic/eastern inspired style that seem to go hand in hand with anything yoga or meditation related!

Carolyne’s range offers meditation cushions, savasana blankets and candles – the three meditation must-haves.

If you have been a gem and read this far, then you could be rewarded!! Carolyne has offered a giveaway of one of her beautiful meditation cushions.

This beautiful cushion has been specifically designed to anchor the back and help keep the spine aligned for good posture.They are natural and sustainable.

 
The covers are 100% cotton/linen and the filling is made from PET (recycled plastic bottles) creating a comfortable, environmentally friendly and stable foundation for meditation. The outer layer of each cushion can be removed for hand washing and the handles allow the cushions to be carried easily. 
All you need to do is comment below – listing one benefit of meditation that you know of. Or, hit google! 

So now you know the different ways to sit in meditation hopefully this improves your experience enjoying the silence and stilling your mind.
Signing off with an exhale.
Pause. Listen. Live
Cx
P.s For those that missed out on the meditation + pranayama workshop at Yoga Village, Frenchy and I are holding another one. 18th December, Rose Bay Yoga Room, 4:30pm – 6:30pm. I would love to see you there. This will give you an idea of what it is about.


Comment...

2 Comments to “WHAT’S THE RIGHT SEAT FOR MEDITATION? AND WIN A MEDITATION CUSHION!”

  1. Meditation gives a sense of clarity and insight that nothing else can. It opens you (your authentic self) to the universe of infinite possibilities, and for brief (sometimes lasting) glimpses, you can truly grasp the interconnectedness of all things and connect with your sense of purpose – a purpose that exists without "things" or money or achievements, but in the people you love and your love for yourself – pure love. (I didn't need google for that.) 🙂

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