Finding a Comfortable Meditation Posture

One of your first steps in developing a successful meditation practice is learning how to sit! It sounds simple, but your meditation posture will either support your practice or lead you to resist it. It’s important to find a position that strikes the balance between effort and ease.

Practice takes effort and it’s also common to get sleepy. To stay awake, we practice good posture and repeatedly straighten our spine over the course of a practice session to renew our alertness. At the same time, we want to be comfortable enough that we can sit for an extended period of time.

Use Pillows and Benches

Finding a comfortable meditation posture doesn’t require purchasing a costly cushion or special pillow. Feel free to sit in a chair! Just make sure the chair enables you to keep a tall spine.

Alternatively, you can use what’s called a “zafu.” These kinds of pillows provide great support, because they relieve the pressure on your legs and back, making it much easier to sustain an upright meditation posture.

You’ll also find a number of benches for meditation that can be used instead of a cushion or pillow. Kneeling benches are a fantastic choice for anyone whose legs and feet are likely to get achy or fall asleep when sitting cross-legged or in positions like lotus or half-lotus. Don’t forget to look for a bench with the correct height for your size, and use a layered cushion for ease and comfort.

Seek a Meditation Posture You Find Just Relaxing Enough

Meditating in an upright sitting position isn’t necessary, and it’s not recommended if you have certain physical conditions, but it can help you remain attentive even during the most tranquil states of your meditation—meaning it will keep you from falling asleep, which is essential! J

There are a few basic sitting positions to choose from.

The most common sitting positon involves sitting on a pillow or a padded mat on the floor. If you need to, you can lean against a wall. Just make sure your back isn’t curved. Place your buttocks snugly on the pillow with your legs crossed on the floor. Place a second pillow between the wall and your back.

If you choose to sit in this position, make sure your knees are lower than your hips. Using a larger pillow relieves pressure on the spine and legs, so they’re less likely to feel sore or fall asleep when you’re sitting for longer periods. You can also place smaller pillows under your knees.

If you need to lie down while meditating, reduce the strain on your spine by putting a rolled cloth or towel under your knees. A pillow or cushion under the neck minimizes the tension on your neck and your shoulders. However, we wouldn’t recommend this position unless you have back problems. If you choose to practice this way, keep your eyes open to remain alert.

Remember to properly position your legs. Sitting with your legs crossed, such as in a lotus position or half-lotus, is the most common approach. If you have difficulty or are uncomfortable with this position, please feel free to sit in a chair.

When in a chair, sit with both of your feet flat on the floor. Place a stool under your feet to elevate them if needed. Beyond that, relax your shoulders and use any hand position that feels natural to you.

Many people like to lay their palms on top of each other in their lap or place their hands comfortably on their legs. You can look up meditation hand positions if you’d like to experiment with different options.

Just remember: It will take a bit of trial and error to find the meditation posture that works best for you. So have fun experimenting, and you’ll find the perfect position!