The meditation ‘purists’ among us are always going to tell you how you should meditate…. However, their belief that their way is the best is only based on what has worked best for them.
For example, a Guru from India who is raised in an Ashram and meditated for an average of 4 hours every day for fifty years of his life may consider his way ‘the best and only way’ because he has benefited greatly from it.
What happens if this Guru goes to a foreign country and begins teaching beginners how to meditate? And what if these beginners are adults who have not sat on the floor for the last 30 years or more?….. It’s highly unlikely they will benefit in any way by being told they must learn to sit in a full lotus position and not move for the next hour!
Not only will this be almost impossible for the students to ever achieve, no matter how much they practice, but it’s also going to put them off practicing meditation…. they will end up believing that meditation is too hard, and not something they will ever be good at!
So, as with all things in life, I believe there is no right or wrong way. Instead, we should strive to find ways in which WE CAN BEST MEDITATE that suit us as unique individuals….
Having said that, I do believe that for meditation to be beneficial for our personal growth and spiritual development, some things are important to keep in mind. But for now, let’s just discuss if and when it’s ok to adjust our posture during meditation.
Is It Ok To Adjust Posture During Meditation?
As individuals, we have achieved different amounts of mental discipline, physical strength, flexibility, and emotional tolerance. So it’s natural that we will benefit from different meditation techniques…. So it’s fortunate that many different styles of meditation are available. If your goals revolve around building mental discipline, then it is best to remain stationary for as long as possible. However, if your meditation practice is more geared towards SELF-INQUIRY, you will come to KNOW if and when it’s best for you to adjust your posture during meditation.
Why Do Some Teachers Say That You Shouldn’t Adjust Posture During Meditation?
Some forms of meditation are strictly about developing mental, emotional, and physical discipline. The aim is to transcend our old habits, the ways we normally react, our old conditioning… The reason why we want to overcome these things is that they are the very things that have got us to this current point in our life…. and now we are seeking something more, something better for ourselves for our future.
Because your current life circumstances are a result of everything you have ever thought and done in the past…. and because the something better you now crave can only come about by doing things differently from what got you here….. these forms of meditation are designed to train your body and mind to become more disciplined.
By building up the ability to be in meditation without moving you can overcome your habitual mind and body. You will build strength, determination, and willpower. And these qualities can be taken into all areas of your life to help you be more successful.
And it is for this reason that some meditation teachers suggest rather strongly that you do your best to overcome the mental desires, emotional stress, and physical impulses to move during meditation.
Instead, they suggest that as you become aware of the desire to move, or any other distracting sensations in your body, you simply acknowledge it and then quietly return to the object of your meditation…. which may be your breath, a mantra, a candle flame, marla beads, etc.
By practicing meditation, we can learn to become the observer of any distractions and sensations and simply notice them as they come and go… because they will come and go, often, and in many forms…. And it will never end! However, our ability to accept them without reacting does get better.
It’s always easier to move, to scratch the itch, to shoo the fly away, to answer our phone…. However, these schools of meditation demand that you remain still, remain equanimous and allow your mind to remain in a meditative state so you build your mental strength and tolerance.
If you would like to try meditating like this, I would suggest you choose a very comfortable position
that is least likely to trigger any aches and pains. Also, maybe you could choose to meditate for a shorter duration, and more frequently.
Why Do Some Teachers Consider It’s Ok To Adjust Your Posture During Meditation?
As already mentioned, not everyone can sit (or whatever posture you choose) for an extended period if it is not something you have been practicing. Therefore, initially, when trying to remain still while meditating, you are likely to experience discomfort and pain in multiple areas of your body.
This occurs because your muscles and nerves are being stressed in ways they are not used to. And it takes time for them to adjust/adapt to these new postures and the long durations of holding them.
So, then it’s up to you what you are going to do about your discomfort.
The pain may ‘dissolve’ by itself as you just observe it without doing anything. This can happen when your muscles and nerves accept your resolve to remain without moving…. Or you may need to adjust your posture to relieve the discomfort or pain.
When is the best time to move? When the impulse to move first arises…. or do you wait until the pain is so intense that you think you will die if you do not move…. or does the answer lie somewhere in between these extremes?
The answer is up to you… and the more you practice and experiment with different scenarios, the better your practice will become…. above all else, just keep practicing….
For me, if I am in pain, but my mind is calm and equanimous, I will remain without moving. It’s only when my mind starts to become too agitated
to remain in a meditative state that I will slowly and gently move, in alignment with my breath, to relieve the pain.
In the early years of building my practice, I would experience pain several times in each 20-minute session. It wasn’t always in the same joints or muscles, however, I did find it necessary to move to alleviate it. If I didn’t move, I couldn’t get into a meditative state…. So it was best to move…..
As the years have progressed, I still experience pain at times….. because my posture has now progressed to a full lotus posture, and the duration of my practice has also increased…. often to an hour.
The pain is not in the same areas as it was before and it doesn’t occur as frequently, so the quality of my meditations has dramatically improved….. I, therefore, consider it fortunate that I didn’t take it too seriously in the beginning and try to sit through the intolerable pain…. If I had to do this, I would surely have given up.
It’s necessary to push yourself beyond your current limits so that you improve, but be sensible about it! Life changes us, and it benefits us if we can be flexible in our approach to all things…..
So, What Do YOU Think? Is It Ok For YOU To Adjust YOUR Posture During Meditation?
I believe that as we become more self-aware, this question will answer itself in the way that best suits us.
There is no right or wrong answer as we are all unique individuals with different reasons for meditating. We have different goals, expectations, body shapes, fitness levels, mental endurance, emotional tolerances, etc. Therefore, there is not only one answer that can suit everyone.
Meditating is a natural process that many people seem to take joy in over-complicating (often so they can profit from teaching their way). And by getting hung up on the technicalities of meditation, you will only deprive yourself of the benefits of getting on with the practice of meditating…. However, if you just do it, you will find that a path that suits you will unfold…..
…. but first, you must let go of the belief that there is a ‘right way’ to meditate and that you must find that way…. instead, just find a way, any way that works for you, that you will continue with…. and with time, you will naturally slip into better ways as your abilities and goals change and evolve….
Remember, life is a journey, and you are continually evolving into something more than you were before…. therefore, your practice should also evolve to reflect this….
Rigidity in all things living brings stagnation and death…. Therefore, be flexible in your approach to life and you will grow more quickly…. and you will also have more fun on your journey….
We would appreciate it if you let us know what your experiences with meditating are in the comments section below….