How to sit for meditation

  • Marc-Antoine Charlebois

Meditation is intended to be transformative, not traumatizing. As a result, it is very important to sit comfortably, otherwise your mind will be focused on your discomfort instead of the moment. Below are some of the different ways you can sit. Experiment with them, trying one every few days until it feels just right.


My preferred variation is with my palms down on my thighs. I like this because when I feel my shoulders rounding forward, I apply gentle pressure to my thighs with my hands to help straighten my spine. For the same reason, others prefer meditating with their palms facing up on their thighs. When the palms face up, the collar bones lengthen more easily.

Cross-legged position

Sit on a high cushion, setting the hips above the knees. Place one foot in front of the other, letting the knees touch the ground if possible. If the knees do not come all the way down, see the next pose. Place your hands in your lap or on your thighs with your elbows beneath the shoulders.

Cross-legged with knee support

Set yourself up as you would for a simple cross-legged position (see above). Instead of placing one foot in front of the other, cross your ankles and place rolled up towels or blankets beneath the knees for support. Place hands in your lap or on your thighs with your elbows beneath the shoulders.

Hero’s pose

A meditation bench is great at alleviating pressure off your ankles, knees, hips, and lower back. Meditation benches are usually slanted to allow for a natural tilt of the pelvis and lengthening of the lower back.

Slide your legs beneath the bench, toes pointing back, and keep your knees together. Place hands in your lap or on your thighs with your elbows beneath the shoulders.

Chair meditation

For some, sitting low to the ground is challenging, even painful, in which case a chair is suggested. Choose a chair with a firm seat so the sitting bones do not sink down. Sit at the edge of the seat with the heels placed directly beneath the knees. Keep the feet flat on the ground and spine erect. Place your hands in your lap or on your thighs with your elbows beneath the shoulders.

Alternatively, you can also meditate lying down or standing up. Standing up is a good option if you’re feeling tired, while lying down is done when all other positions are painful, or, because of challenging life circumstances, you need to be reminded of the support of the earth.

If you lie down, bend your elbows and place them to either side of your ribs. Your palms will face each other and your fingers will point towards the ceiling. This makes sure that if you fall asleep and your arm falls on you, it’ll wake you up and remind you where you are and what you’re doing.

Dawn Mauricio

Dawn is a meditation teacher with a playful, dynamic, and centered approach. She is known for her boundless energy, and smiling personality that are both contagious, and motivating. Teaching since 2006, she has received certifications from Spirit Rock Meditation Centre, True North Insight, and Naada Yoga.

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