Prince Siddhharta sat unmoving beneath the Bodhi tree for 49 days before he became greatly awakened. He was able to do so because he sat upright in full lotus posture and his mind was focused on finding his true self; without being distracted by any random thought, such as the thought of eating or answering the call of nature because his body system is somewhat like a bear in hibernation though the mind is fully awake.
When we put our left foot on top of the inner right thigh, this posture is called half-lotus. When we also pull the right foot and place it on the inner left thigh, half lotus then becomes full lotus posture. In this position, it is easy to be single minded though beginners would have to overcome the physical aches. If it is not possible to sit either in full or half lotus, then sit crossed legged while slowly progressing to half lotus and then full lotus posture over time.
Because the flavor of Chan comes during long sits, it will be good to practice to sit in full lotus or at least in half lotus even while watching television or while reading. How fast we make progress depends upon our determination, patience and perseverance to constantly practice.
It is preferred that we sit on a level surface. If we do sit on the ground, it will be advisable to protect our body against the moisture coming from the ground with a cushion or carpet. It is recommended that the legs be covered with a blanket to protect the legs from coldness and dampness in the air.
When sitting, the body is upright-without leaning to the front, back left or right -in a natural position. To avoid the upper part of the body from slouching, bring the two shoulder blades together and then relax to a natural position. Adjust the head so that the neck is in line with the spine.
Now notice that the legs form a triangular base with the body perpendicular to it. Isn’t this a stable position?
Meditation simplified – lesson 4 Sitting posture
What about the two hands? Put the hands naturally down in front; pulling towards your body with the back of the right hand resting on top of the palms of the left hand.
The tongue should be curled upwards with the tip of the tongue resting on the top of the mouth just like when we say the alphabet ‘L’. When the saliva gathers at the base of the tongue you may swallow it. The mouth should be closed as we do not want saliva to trickle down.
What about the eyes? The eyes should be half closed focusing on the tip of the nose. Alternatively, the eyes can be closed but there is higher risk of falling asleep when the eyes are closed.
Breathe normally through the nostrils. When sitting meditation begins, the breathing will be noticeably coarse but over time the breath will become subtle until you don’t notice it. Do not breathe through the mouth.
What about the ears? Don’t follow external sounds; listen within. The idea of meditation is to be focused and not be distracted by environment such as the sound of a truck passing by or people talking nearby. Listen within.
During meditation, the practitioner should remain still and avoid fidgeting, scratching, swaying, twitching, blinking, grinding of teeth; any movements even on the subtlest level. These physical movements are signs of scatteredness when the practitioner should be focused in the work of meditating.