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Our posture during sitting meditation is so important because it directly impacts our ability to sit well-supported and comfortably, especially during longer periods of time. What feels okay for 5 minutes for meditating at the end of a yoga class does not necessarily work well for sitting still for 20 or 30 or more minutes. This page has some helpful resources that identify the elements of good, stable posture. You can also click below to go right to other breath meditation resources:

The main elements of a good sitting meditation posture, regardless of the particular style, are:

  • The body is supported - arms, knees, feet, and hands are all resting firmly so that you are working the least amount of your muscles to keep body parts in place. The more muscles you are working, the more fatigue and strain is likely to set in over longer periods of time.

  • The back is straight, not hunched or slouched.

  • The head points straight ahead.

  • If sitting cross-legged or in a chair, the hips are slightly above the knees. This is a conventional rule-of-thumb for avoiding low back strain. It makes it easier to keep the natural curvature of the low back without straining to stay upright.

  • The hands are resting palm-in-palm, in your lap. Your thumbs should be be touching lightly. This is sometimes called a "cosmic mudra."If your hands cannot reach your lap, support them with a cushion so that they don't float in space, which would lead to shoulder strain as muscles are working to hold the hands up. You want the fingers down and flat, not curled or up, so that the fewest muscles are at work.

  • The eyes are half-open with a soft gaze. Yes, open! Zen meditation is a practice of alert attention, and we don't want to remove an entire sense field (vision) from our perception, which closing the eyes does. See the Eyes page for a more thorough discussion.

See these online resources for more details and advice

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