• John Magilke

Sitting Positions in Meditation

There are a few things that can be used for sitting in meditation. I have tried most of them. I settled on a Zafu; as that is what seems comfortable for me.

In the beginning, a chair may work best as that is what we, in western culture, are accustomed to sitting on.

I sat on a chair for a couple of years before I experimented with other forms of sitting. It took a while to figure out what worked best for me. I don’t remember anymore but it must have been another few years before I settled on the Zafu. I tried many things.

A Kitchen Chair

The type of chair that works the best is one that doesn’t swivel. One that is close enough to the ground to allow your knees, to be bent slightly to allow crossing your legs in front of you.

Sit on the edge with your feet crossed in front of you. Turn your hands upward in your lap or on your knees. Make sure the spine is erect and the neck is straight by tilting the head forward slightly.

It may take some time to get the hang of this as it is a position we are not used to sitting in.

So you say, “Why can’t I just lean back on the chair & meditate that way?”

You can! But eventually, you will end up too comfortable & your meditation sessions will turn into sleeping sessions.

Ask me how I know this. Yeah, I struggled with this for some time before I figured out what was wrong.

I advise against it.

A cushion

There are various types of cushions you can use. There are Zafu cushions, a flat pillow type

cushion called a Zabuton. The zafu & zabuton can be purchased as a matching set. They can be used separately or together for longer meditation sessions. They can be purchased separately too.

Kneeling position

Meditating in the kneeling position can be done with or without a pillow. However, I suggest that you start with a pillow because the ankles will need to adjust to this position.

Personally, I like this position. I’ve gone through periods where I’ve used this position at


It can be extremely comfortable; it is very easy to keep the back straight & there is almost no chance you'll fall asleep.

If the position you initially use to meditate hurts your back in any way; I highly recommend this kneeling position with a pillow under the ankles. Almost anything will do under the ankles. You just need something to keep the weight off your ankles. Rolling up a jacket or a towel will even work!

There are a few types of benches that can be used as well. I think they originated in Japan and gained popularity there.

These benches have very short legs and are used by setting on the bench & crossing the legs in front of the bench. Some of them have long enough legs that they can be used in the kneeling position as well. Your legs extend back under the seat and you set on the seat. This position takes all the weight off your ankles completely.

You can buy the bench, but the bench you see in the picture I put together in around 15 min. just for the purposes of this video. If you have access to scrap lumber & a saw; you can put one of these together with little effort.

If you don’t have the means or the tools; find a friend with basic carpentry tools & skills. If you show them the picture they can make one for you in minutes. Put a little finish on it & the bench will be serviceable for a long time. They are quite versatile. Children love them.

There is always the ground

Certain times of the year you may choose to set on the ground outside. It puts you in direct contact with the earth; The primordial substance from which we all come from.

It is said that direct contact with the earth puts us in a better stance with the world around us and helps us to connect with our deepest selves. After 20 odd years of meditation, I cannot confirm this as I’ve spent most of my meditation time meditating indoors. Where I live it is either too cold or there are too many bugs. But spring & fall offer a wonderful window to practice outside.

Meditating outside definitely has its moments. I love to meditate with the sounds of nature. This natural sound is the only sound I will allow myself to listen to while meditating. I never meditate with, another’s voice, music, or any other manmade sound. But that is just me. Many people have great practices & listen to many different things while meditating.

In Conclusion

These are a few of the basic sitting positions that can be practiced during meditation. Most of these can be practiced inexpensively with some imagination. There are no excuses unless, of course, you just don’t want to meditate.

That said, there is a position out there for everyone. May you find yours and while doing so, may you find that place where you can learn to be completely comfortable with who you are.

I read somewhere, and I paraphrase, while in meditation you ARE the Buddha!

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