For many people, one the greatest obstacles to meditation stems from the belief that a cross-legged lotus-like posture is the mandatory position for meditation. We’re here to assure you that flexible yogini skills are completely unnecessary. At SIYLI, we appreciate a good chair just as much as a floor or floor cushion. And even if you can wrap your legs around your torso, knowing how to meditate in a chair is useful for planes, offices and other places where floor room is unavailable or being inconspicuous is appropriate.
What kind of chair? Nothing fancy. It’s ideal if it doesn’t have wheels and isn’t so soft and cushy that you might fall asleep, but most any chair or bench will do, as long as your feet can be flat on the ground and you can sit up straight. If a plush recliner or hotel bed is all that’s available, perch on the edge of it so that your back is erect and your feet are on the floor solidly.
If you’ve got a full collection of chairs from which to choose, find something with a straight back and thin cushion. In order to get your back straight, placing a folded blanket or rug under the back legs of the chair, so that it tilts forward just slightly, might help. Similarly, a folded blanket, pillow or thick book under your feet might bring your knees to a 90-degree bend, which is ideal.
Once your seated comfortably, rest your hands on your thighs, palms down. Adjust your head so that your neck extends straight up from your spine—as opposed to jutting forward—and tilt your chin so that it’s level with the ground. And begin by focusing on your breath.
With this simple seated posture, you can practice almost anywhere. Bring a few mindful breathes into your office, commute, travel or anywhere else that you have a few moments to yourself.
If you would like to learn more about the foundations of meditation, see Chapter 2, titled “Breathing as if Your Life Depends on it,” of Search Inside Yourself.