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…
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.
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.