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basic meditation

Buddhist meditation is usually practiced in one of four positions: sitting, walking, lying down and standing.

the sitting position

Sitting normally takes place on the floor in various cross-legged positions.

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lotus position

In the lotus position, ankles and feet — soles facing upwards — are placed on the thighs. This is hard to do and not recommended unless you are adept at yoga.

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half-lotus position

In the half-lotus position, one foot only is raised up on the thigh, while the other is tucked beneath the thigh. In the quarter-lotus, the raised foot rests closer to the knee.

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Burmese position

And, finally, in the Burmese position, the lower parts of the legs are both placed on the floor, with one foot underneath the opposite thigh and one foot against the opposite knee.

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cushions

In the sitting positions you generally use two cushions: one square and thin, the other round and fat. The square cushion helps you sit more comfortably on the floor. The round cushion can be used to raise your bottom so that your knees rest on the square one.

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kneeling position

You can also kneel on the floor with a cushion between your legs; or kneel with your legs tucked beneath a wooden bench.

All these postures can be painful for Westerners who are not used to sitting on the floor.

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sitting position

A good alternative is to sit on a chair, keeping your back straight, if possible without leaning against the chair. You could adjust your posture by placing cushions under your bottom and feet. It is important in sitting meditation that your posture is erect, but not rigidly so. You should open out your shoulders and feel your neck resting lightly between them. Try imagining the back of your head gently elongating towards the sky.