There are different body postures (iriyāpatha) for meditation. Meditation can be done in one of the four postures:
Sitting (nisinna), Standing (ṭhita), Walking (gacchanta), and Lying (sayāna).
It is important to find a conducive place to meditate where you will not be disturbed by too many outer distractions. It is equally important to make sure the place you are meditating in is not too hot or too cold, well ventilated with fresh clean air, quiet and not
too dark or too bright to disturb you. All these factors will minimise feelings of distraction and sleepiness which are the two greatest hindrances to meditation.
The Buddha said: "A monk has full awareness while coming and going, while reaching out his hands or drawing them back, while putting on his robes and carrying his bowl, while eating and drinking, chewing and tasting, even while defecating and urinating. He has full awareness while walking, standing and sitting, while falling to sleep and waking up, while talking and remaining silent" (M.I,57).
Find a quiet place, place a large meditation mat or folded blanket (especially if you are using a kneeling bench) on the ground to sit on. Sitting is usually done on the ground with legs folded in whichever position is most comfortable and convenient for you such as lotus, half lotus, Burmese posture or simply in a cross-legged (pallaṅkaṃ) position.
The back should be straight and firm (ujuṃ kāyaṃ), place a small cushion underneath you to tilt the hips so that the back becomes naturally straight.
The shoulders should be relaxed, rest the hands in the lap - either palms up or in whichever way is comfortable.
The eyes can be open, half closed or fully closed but importantly they should be relaxed and not focused on anything in particular.
The chin should be slightly tucked in to allow for more length in the back of the neck.
Check that there is no tension being held in the body and if you find tension anywhere make sure to consciously relax that area.
You may also meditate while sitting in a chair if sitting
on the floor is too uncomfortable or painful or by using
a meditation bench. When sitting on a chair make sure both feet are flat on the ground with a little space
Sit (nisīdati) on the front half of the chair so that your spine is straight. This will prevent slouching which will eventually lead to sleepiness. The hands can be resting in a relaxed manner in the lap or placed on the thighs in a relaxed way.
Standing meditation can be done any place where it is comfortable to stand for long periods of time.
Make sure the ground is firm enough to stand on while at the same time not so hard that it might cause pain in the feet after some time.
Stand up straight with the feet a little apart, hips width apart, with your weight evenly distributed on the feet.
Tilt the hips a little to prevent slouching, tuck the chin in a little to create a long straight neck - again to prevent slumping and slouching which may lead to sleepiness or pain in the body.
Walking meditation can be done in two ways, firstly in a controlled meditation session environment or while walking during normal activities during the day.
When doing a session of walking meditation (caṅkamana), again make sure:
The place you are going to be practicing is not too noisy or distracting.
If you are outside making sure not to be in the direct sun for too long.
The walking meditation path should ideally be clear and free form sharp objects that may hurt the feet while walking and to try to walk on an even surface.
Start at one end of the walking path, stand straight with the feet a little apart, hand to the front at the navel or on your back.
Place your gaze a 1,5 meter ahead of you towards the ground. When you start to walk do so slowly and clearly so that you can
be aware of each movement as you walk. When you arrive at the end of the walking path stop, check to see if you are still standing straight but relaxed and take a moment to then slowly turn, take moment to compose yourself checking that the body is aligned
and then proceed walking to the other end of the path.
A lying posture can be taken when one wants to practice before sleeping or if one is unable to sit in one of the more conventional postures for example if one is ill or unable to sit up straight. This enables you to continuously practice outside of the formal meditation session.
Traditionally lying meditation is done by lying on the right side, legs on top of each other with the knees and ankles on top of each other.
The head is propped up with either a cushion or with the palm of the right hand.
The eyes can be open or closed with he the gaze a short distance ahead without focusing on anything.
And again, monks, a monk, when he is walking, comprehends, ‘I am walking’ (gacchāmī); or when he is standing still, comprehends, ‘I am standing still’ (thitomhī); or when he is sitting down, comprehends, ‘I am sitting down’ (nisinnomhī); or when he is lying down, comprehends, ‘I am lying down’ (sayānomhī). So that however his body is disposed he comprehends that it is like that. (MN10)
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