Holistic Living

Meditation Posture: Sharpness

Does Posture Really Matter?

 Isn’t it important to be comfortable?

Why can’t we meditate just lying down? In this video clip from Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, Rinpoche answers a student’s question about why meditation posture matters.

Rinpoche uses the example of running. He suggests that we start small. We need to keep trying and then it becomes more natural. If we train little by little, we can eventually run 10 miles. We can’t do that by just lying down and thinking, “I am running.” Posture is a skillful means to help our meditation just like a proper running gait helps a runner.

Proper Conditions

Posture does matter! We need proper conditions in order to meditate. In order to make the mind steady, we need to make the body steady. Posture brings sharpness. In the beginning, it is particularly important to train properly.

Gradually we can sit for longer and longer periods. Once we have a good base, then it becomes possible to truly practice in any position, but this is not as easy as it might seem. To be honest, most of us would simply fall asleep if we attempted to meditate lying down!

Internal Body

Technically, according to Tibetan medicine, the nerves of the body are connected to the breath. And the breath is connected to the emotions. When we cross our legs, the internal winds calm down. The straight, upright position moves the winds into the central area. This brings calmness. The correct wind flow brings clarity, sharpness, and vastness. Rinpoche reminds us that the upright posture has been used for over two thousand years and it is effective!

Somananda Yogi Demonstrates Variations of Meditation Posture

The important points are a straight, but not tense, back, and a slightly tucked chin. Any or all of the postures are aids to meditation, and the most beneficial is said to be the full vajra position. If you are physically able to slowly and gradually work toward this position, it will be good support for your practice.

  1. Meditation seated in a chair: Make sure that if your feet do not comfortably reach the floor, you should place a firm cushion beneath them for support. Note that the hands can be in a meditation position on the lap or on the thighs. Also notice that the spine is straight, not leaning back against the chair.

  2. Meditation in half vajra posture:

  3. Meditation in full vajra posture: Here is the posture from the front and the side.

5 responses on "Meditation Posture: Sharpness"

Leave a Message

Suggested Reading

Dudjom Rinpoche, The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, trans. and ed. by Gyurme Dorje and Matthew Kapstein (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1991), vol. 1, pages 468–474.

Ngawang Zangpo, Guru Rinpoche: His Life and Times, Ithaca: Snow Lion, 2002.

Nyoshul Khenpo, A Marvelous Garland of Rare Gems: Biographies of Masters of Awareness in the Dzogchen Lineage, trans. Richard Barron (Junction City: Padma Publishing, 2005), pages 41–48.

Padmasambhava, Legend of the Great Stupa, Berkeley: Dharma Publishing, 1973

Padmasambhava & Jamgön Kongtrul, The Light of Wisdom, trans. by Erik Pema Kunsang (Boudhanath: Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 1986-1999), pages 43-47 & Appendix 5.

Taranatha, The Life of Padmasambhava, Shang Shung Edizioni, 2005

Tulku Thondup, Masters of Meditation and Miracles, Shambhala, 1996.

Yeshe Tsogyal, Life and Liberation of Padmasambhava, translated by Kenneth Douglas and Gwendolyn Bays (Emeryville: Dharma Publishing, 1978, republished 2008).

Yeshe Tsogyal, Lotus Born: The Life Story of Padmasambhava, Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 2004.

‘The Life of Guru Padmasambhava’ in A Great Treasure of Blessings, The Tertön Sogyal Trust, 2004.