Meditation basics - posture and breathing
Last week I have started a new online course about Mindfulness and Meditation teaching. About halfway through now and I am finding it fascinating! In one of my previous posts, I have written about my meditation journey and how I started this practice. I know I keep saying how life-changing it is, but I am a strong believer that the world would be a better place if more people meditated and spend more time looking into themselves rather than simply responding to impulses. So let's start from the beginning and chat about posture and breathing.
Posture is probably one of the most important parts of meditation. There two main reasons behind it, firstly, good posture allows you to relax, be comfortable and avoid pain, but also, it allows to stay alert and aware. However, if possible we should avoid meditating lying down as it is harder to stay aware and awake, let's be honest. Ideally, we should sit on the floor, with legs crossed (if you can sit in lotus position - amazing and I am jealous!) as it helps to ground us. In Zen meditation, a small cushion is normally used, so if that helps - go for it!
You can also meditate while sitting on a chair. If possible it is good to avoid fully leaning on the back but without slouching forward, to keep the spine straight. Feet should be on the ground and not crossed. Hands can be on our knees, it helps to relax them that way and avoid straining. The chin should be slightly tucked in. You can imagine a string going through the crown of the head and down the spine - ideally straight. Make sure your jaw, neck and shoulders are relaxed.
But of course, if you have any injuries or specific needs - do what is comfortable for you. It is so important to listen to our bodies and do what feels right. But good posture is essential so it is really good to practice it every time, and perfection is an illusion so it is absolutely ok to re-adjust if needed.
Breathing is another huge part of meditation. So many of us forgot how to breathe properly. Notice how babies breathe, they use their belly. Lots of us are so used to shallow chest breathing, that we don't get enough oxygen. Diaphragmatic breathing is a great way to start - place your hand on your belly and another one on your chest. Start taking full slow breaths and expanding your belly not your chest. Try to get to the point where your hand on your chest is still and the one on the belly is moving. This is a great start if you never paid attention to your breathing.
If you fancy something different, there are tons of breathing techniques and even apps available now. There are so many benefits to mindful breathing, some of them are that it can help to improve sleep, boost brain activity and even reduce stress.
I have created a handout with my favourite breathing techniques, you can download it by subscribing to my newsletter here.