There is a profound link between our mental state and the posture we take up with our bodies. At one extreme an aggressive posture such as the ‘warrior posture’ in yoga, puts our mind into an ‘action stations’ mode. For meditation obviously we need a posture of passive contemplation, to induce calmness.
Traditionally, we sit cross-legged and close the eyes, with the spine and head erect, sometimes resting the hands on the crossed legs. There are many pictures of monks meditating away in this position, and after many years of constant practice they can doubtless attain a truly meditative state of mental stillness.
But it is hard for most of us to devote the hundreds of hours of practice required to succeed the traditional way.
But there is a better way, by using the power of posture. What you do with your body in meditation turns out to be more important than what you do with your mind.
The key to it all is leaning forward and resting our head in our hands – as simple as that!
The most straightforward way to do it uses the old technique called palming, in which we cover our eyes with our hands (see palming page).
But there are important variants.
For example we can also support the head by clasping our hands together (see clasping page).
These are all basic variants of what I call the Pyramid Position.
You will notice a slight stretching at the back of the neck. This is the key element of the Alexander Technique, used by many performers. The essence of the Alexander Technique is to relax the neck muscles and align the neck and spine, reducing tension throughout the body.
If you know the lotus or half-lotus positions, you can keep using this as the base, keeping your back straight, but holding your lower arms against your chest, with the upper arms supporting your head. The lotus position can be hard to practice if you lack flexibility. There are good guides available on the net, such as the guide on WikiHow.
However, there is an even better variation. Try resting your head in your clasped hands while reclining. Reclining in itself promotes relaxation, so the combination is particularly powerful – see the picture on ‘Putting It All Together’.
**NEW** Even better , see the video