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Meditation Posture

Zen master Dogen equated correcting the posture and breathing as being the primary cause of achieving enlightenment.

For those who sincerely want to enter the Tao, you only need to keep correcting the posture to find the perfection of being completely at-ease, and keep the breath soft in the lower abdomen, like a gentle breeze entering and departing from the body.

Immortal Posture

When seated, draw in the left heel close to the perineum and set the bottom of the foot to face upward. Position the right leg in front and to the outside of the left leg, with the bottom of the right foot also turned up. Turning the feet will help keep both knees attached to the sitting mat and thus make the posture feel grounded and stable.

Half-Lotus or Quarter Lotus Posture

When seated, place the foot on the opposite thigh. Or for quarter-lotus, place the foot on the opposite calf. Next, place the other foot beneath the other leg to complete the posture. In comparison, this is much easier to perform than the Full-Lotus Posture, but the shortcoming of the Half-Lotus is that it can prevent the kneecap of the raised leg from being able to attach directly onto the sitting mat. After having been seated for a time, the body might also begin to lean slightly toward the side. Don’t feel anxious about always feeling the need to correct this leaning because it’s just a minor hindrance.

Full-Lotus Posture

This meditation posture takes great pliability and is difficult to achieve for most people. To complete the posture, put the left foot on the right thigh so that the sole of the foot faces upward. Next, place the right foot on the left thigh. The soles of both feet are now facing upward and the thighs intersect triangularly [“v” shape].

It’s essential that the kneecaps attach directly onto the sitting mat and the body be held naturally upright and erect. Do not sit inclined to the front, back, left, or right. Gradually train this posture by holding the position until it can no longer be endured and then releasing the legs. Learning Full-Lotus can be difficult and is not recommended for everyone, nor is it essential for meditation.

Chair-Sitting Posture

If a person’s legs cannot be crossed beneath the body, then sitting in a chair is a good alternative. Position both legs so that they extend down to the floor. It is important that the feet are on line with one another and equally separated. The bottoms of both feet should be placed flat on the ground. Also, make sure that the thighs are level, with the feet maintaining ninety-degree angles.

Hand Position

Both hands must be loose and relaxed, without the least bit of tension exerted. Place the back of the left hand lightly over the palm of the right hand, so that both palms are facing upward. Then set the hands on top of the upper thigh area so that the palms appear to be supporting the Dan Tian or lower abdomen.

You can also use the Taiji Knot position as shown in the sitting photos, with the right hand grasping the thumb of the left hand.

Head Position

When practicing meditation, pay attention to the head, neck, face, eyes, and jaws. The head and neck must be held erect and upright, the face should be positioned directly to the front, the eyes closed lightly, the jaws shut so there is no separation between them, and the tongue must be held against the upper palate.

Taoist Meditation Links

Trauma-Sensitive MeditationPreparing to MeditateMeditation Posture

Proper Breathing in Meditation > Breathing Methods in Meditation

Taoist Meditation GuidanceComing Out of Meditation

Common Misconceptions in Meditation

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