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I notice, in images of monks and lay people in seated meditation, that many of these various persons appear to be using very poor posture, e.g. slumped and not erect. Written instructions and video instructions often recommend adherence to a straight spine and/or an erect posture. I think the Buddha simply instructed that one sit, without specific instructions about an erect straight-spine posture. Therefore, I find myself confused and distracted regarding "correct" posture. My breathe seems to be more natural and relaxed if I "slump" just a bit and dispense with the "straight spine". Although, I've also noticed that when I notice that my attention to the breathe has wavered I have gravitated into a more pronounced "slump"! SO, what is most acceptable and correct? Thanks for any advice that is offered :)

  • Posture is more or less important depending on the type of meditation. In Zazen straight spine is important for example. What type of meditation are you practicing? Knowing that will help to get you usable answers. :) – Robin111 Jul 6 '15 at 12:27
  • I think I am practicing what Theravada teachers would identify as serenity meditation. I endeavor to sit for one hour daily before sunrise, then again in the evening. For a meditation object I practice attention to the breathe, as evidenced by the sensation of air moving into and out on the nostrils. Attention to the rising and falling of the abdomen is a bit more challenging for me. I am hoping for access concentration so I can have a recognizable indication of success. I have, on rare occasions, experienced or recognized what I think may have been "insight" into impermanence. Thanks :) – PaPa Jul 6 '15 at 17:22
  • btw, I sit in what I think is a Burmese position, with the right leg on top of the left, the right foot on top of the left calf. My hands are in my lap, with the right hand on my left. I use a buckwheat hull zafu to gain a bit of elevation, so my pelvis can rotate forward just a bit. Sitting for an hour in the morning is usually not a problem for me physically, although trying to sit for an hour in the evening can be a real challenge because of extreme monkey mind, which is very frustrating :-P – PaPa Jul 6 '15 at 17:37
  • If you are sitting on your own volition, that's a huge success right there! Don't worry about achieving certain states. Those will come with time. And of course your mind is scattered in the evening! You had the whole day to rile it up! ;-) – user698 Jul 6 '15 at 17:40
  • This answer to a previous question may be helpful to you. Best wishes. :) buddhism.stackexchange.com/questions/9263/… – Robin111 Jul 6 '15 at 23:40
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Don't look at posture as a matter of right and wrong, correct or incorrect. Ideal posture exists for the sole purpose of helping you develop concentration. The general idea is that an upright body equals an upright mind. Slouching is going to cause you to fall into sleepiness. Your mind will go as slack as your body.

On a more mundane level, if you tend to tilt forward in your sitting, a couple of other things are going to happen. For one, after about a half an hour, the middle of your back is going to start to hurt. You might also feel tension in your shoulders as your muscles struggle to keep your body upright. You might also notice that as you lean forward, you start to restrict air flow. It's not like this is going to cause you to pass out, but it will be harder to do deep, abdominal breathing.

And remember, this is an ideal. No one is going to smack you upside the head if your posture goes a little slack (well, unless you are studying at a Rinzai temple!). Maintaining correct posture is only going to benefit your sitting.

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