Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Sitting Meditation Postures - Mastering the Full Lotus

It's become almost synonymous with sitting meditation the world over.  Some will even tell you it's the "best" meditation posture, advancing all kinds of esoteric arguments to prove their point.  

Yes, it's that darn full lotus posture, the one we all have a love-hate relationship with because so few people, at least in the West, can maintain it comfortably, if they can even get into it in the first place ;-)

So let's set the record straight on the full lotus by looking at the facts:
  1. It is a superb posture for meditation; no argument there.  It leaves you perfectly balanced and anchored, and may even alleviate the need for a cushion under your butt. 

  2. There are lots of other, easier meditation postures used in many meditative traditions, such as the ankle lock, perfect posture, the half lotus, kneeling posture and even sitting on a chair or stool.  So any argument that you can only meditate "properly" in the full lotus is, in my opinion, 'full' of something else...
  3. You need to beware of trying to force yourself to use the full lotus before your body is adequately prepared, because you risk permanent knee damage.
I make no secret of the fact that practicing meditation of some variety, your ability to enter into inner stillness, is one of the keys to your personal resilience.  So finding the right posture for yourself is an important step.  

Here's a super video by Martin Faulks in the UK about how to master the lotus posture.  And for those of you who practice sitting meditation and have no intention of "mastering the full lotus", I'd recommend you watch it anyway, since it briefly covers other postures and has lots of useful material for you:

What makes this such a great presentation?  Just this:
  • It gives you some background on the lotus flower as a symbol
  • It explains and demonstrates the difference between doing the lotus properly and doing it wrong - which can damage your knees
  • It shows you exactly how to train your body for the lotus (training that can benefit you even if you're using one of the other postures, by the way!)
  • It emphasizes the critical preparation of the hip joints
  • It demonstrates, albeit briefly, the related sitting postures you're more likely to use
The one thing I would add here is that if you're seriously interested in improving your full lotus and maybe getting it to the point where you can use it comfortably to meditate, I'd suggest you start in the spring.  Why?

When the ambient temperature around you warms up, so do your soft tissues, and this makes it much easier for you to stretch with less likelihood of injury.  So if you start your "lotus project" in, say, April, then you'll have about six solid months to work on it before the weather cools off again (of course, the opposite is the case for those of you in the southern hemisphere).  

Enjoy the video and happy meditating!

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

1 comment:

  1. What a great video. Thanks. I've never seen this information all together before and I feel inspired to get into lotus training with these exercises.