Sitting Meditation


Sitting Meditation

Classic sitting meditation is a vital part of all meditation traditions and has

taken many forms, some more effective than others. Some traditional approaches

demand that the student sit motionless for hours on end, as if becoming a frozen

human statue is the key to enlightenment. A more scientific approach does not

make the human body our enemy, but rather works with our natural physiology to

allow more intense meditation with less effort and discomfort. Masochism is not

an effective path to self-realization.

Begin by finding a relatively quiet place to meditate where you will not be

disturbed. All forms of classic sitting meditation should be done in silence, with

no background music. You can sit cross legged Asian style on a meditation

pillow on the floor, or use the Recliner Chair Method described below. Eyes may

be fully open, half open, or slightly open, letting in just two small slits of

light. Meditating with eyes fully closed is fine as long as the room remains

brightly lit, so that enough light passes through the eyelids to keep your brain

alert. I use a powerful 500 watt halogen torchiere lamp to illuminate my

meditation room, and this lamp projects a pleasing yellow-orange glow on my

closed eyelids.

Meditating in a darkened room presents fundamental physiological problems.

When you sit quietly with your eyes closed in darkness, your brain interprets this

situation as a signal to start shutting itself down for sleep. Sleep inducing

hormones such as melatonin are released at the same time your heart rate and

circulation are reduced due to lack of movement. You feel swept away on a sea

of quiet relaxation. This pleasant experience may be light sleep state hypnosis,

not meditation at all, and thus does you little more good than taking a nap.

Meditation means that you are relaxed as if sleeping, but your consciousness is

fully and intensely awake. Therefore, if you meditate with your eyes closed, the

room must remain brightly lit, so that a significant amount of light passes through

the eyelids.