and body: the need for posture
7-point posture of Vairocana
which may help
and Body: the need for a good posture
From the moment of conception until the moment
of death, mind and body are inextricably linked. Were it possible
to separate them (it isn't), one could say that they constantly
affect each other. Most people understand that mind affects body,
as they see examples of this all day long. The moment people come
into a room, their posture tells us whether they are feeling good,
depressed, self-confident, afraid, tense and so forth - long before
they say a word. But few people realise just how much body and
breath can be used to help the mind. As meditation is concerned
with taming and awakening the mind, posture can be mobilised to
Although one can think, visualise, pray or
do mental exercises in any position, there are few in which can
remain healthily and comfortably for the time it takes to accomplish
most meditations. The few that permit this (lying flat etc) often
tend make one sleepy as the meditation brings relaxation. This
is not what meditation is for. In a good meditation posture, relaxation
becomes the basis for the crystal clarity of awakened awareness,
not a sleepy haze.
Although it may be hard for beginners to get
used to the classical Buddhist meditation postures, the rewards
of a few sessions with aching knees are tremendous, as one can
meditate in that good position for the rest of one's life. Correct
posture helps the mind find peace, strenght and control. It benefits
the physical body by bringing its energies and bio-systems into
balance. And one can spend all day in a clasical posture in a
state of great harmony - virtually impossible in everyday positions.
Below you will find the classical 7-Point Posture of Vairocana,
with some variations.
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7-Point Posture of Vairocana
1. The back
(i.e. from nape of neck to the small of the back) should be made
as straight as possible - like an arrow or like a pile of coins.
2. The legs
should be crossed in the vajra or bodhisattva posture (see right).
3. The hands
(see below) should be folded, 4 fingers' width below the navel
(not resting on the feet), the elbows slightly out. The shoulders
are held up and back ('like a vulture')
4. The chin
should be tucked in slightly, 'like an iron hook'.
5. The eyes
(see below) should be relaxedly looking into
space, at nothing in particular, somewhere about 16 fingers width
in front of the nose.
6. The tongue
should be held against the upper palate.
7. The lips
should be slightly apart, the teeth
not clenched. One breaths through the nose. top
Vajra posture - right leg
is above left leg, the backs of the feet sitting flat on the tops
of the thighs. Ideally, the two feet make a straight line.
Bodhisattva posture - left
sole fits under right thigh, back of right foot lies flat on top
of left thigh.
The right hand sits on top of the
left, 4 fingers' width below the navel, the thumbs touching.
Eyes and Gaze
beginners tend to find it easier to meditate with eyes closed, it is
better to train oneself to meditate with open eyes from the outset.
Closed eyes favour thoughts, daydreaming and distraction. Furthermore,
one does not get into the habit of meditating while being visually conscious,
meditation becomes associated with an 'other', inner world rather than
a clearer, truer way of seeing this world.
consciousness is one of the strongest factors in most people's lives.
In order to understand it and bring it under control, there are many
ways of using the eyes and the gaze while meditating. These need to
be applied at the right time, in the right way, under the guidance of
a competent meditation teacher. In the classical Vairocana posture the
eyes are open but not looking at anything in particular, just resting
relaxedly on a spot somewhere about 16 fingers' breadth in front of
the nose. Sometimes, in this posture, they look at the tip of the nose,
or just 4 fingers' breadth in front of it. The main point of this is
twofold: to overcome the power of habitual visual distractions and to
free the mind from the dominating power of visual consciousness. With
time, it will be replaced by the inner eye of mind's wisdom.
is important, so one should not stare fixedly or tensely and it is alright
to blink so as to irrigate the eyes. If visual tension is building up
(dancing colours and optical effects due to maintaining a fixed gaze),
one can slowly and calmly shift the gaze to nearby objects and/or close
the eyes for a while.
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