The correct posture for meditation exercises
In this section, we deal not only with postural exercises but also with methods for exercising the will at various times of the day.
For body control, Bardon suggests the following exercise:
- Sit in a chair with a straight spine. The feet are joined and form a right angle with the knees; the knees can remain apart, but not by much, at most 5-7 centimetres (2-3 inches). If the back is straight and the legs are at right angles, the knees naturally tend to be at the proper distance; also, keeping the feet together prevents the knees from separating too much. The hands are placed on the thighs with the palms in contact. The eyes are closed.
- In this position, try to feel the body and its tensions. Initially, it will be challenging to control nerve stimulation and involuntary muscle contractions; therefore, you will have to strive to maintain the position calmly. The first few times, it can be helpful to tie the legs with a strap to avoid tremors and excessive separation of the knees. If the chair has a backrest, you can initially use it to support the spine.
- The first goal is to sit without tension and fatigue for five minutes. With each session, increase the duration of the exercise by one minute. If you can hold the position easily for at least thirty minutes, the practice is over.
This posture was chosen because of its simplicity. However, nothing prevents you from experimenting with more challenging asanas, especially if you already have experience with some form of yoga. The position of the Japanese seiza, sitting on the knees, or the lotus posture can be alternatives. But if you feel tingling or your legs fall asleep due to lack of blood circulation, it is better to give up because the goal is to stay comfortable for a long time.
The purpose of the postural exercises is twofold. For mental and soul practices to be truly effective, the body and physical sensations must not create distractions; controlling the body allows you to minimise these disorders and avoid side effects, such as fatigue, loss of concentration and sleepiness.
Second, the efforts and difficulties one goes through to master the exercise strengthen the will. In this regard, Bardon recommends extending this discipline to different times of the day, either by exercising some form of body control (striving to remain still in one position in some circumstances) or by training the body and mind to wait or change behaviour, when the opportunity arises: if you are hungry or thirsty, delay the intake of food and drink; if you are in a hurry, slow down or vice versa, and so on.
With this session, the physical exercises of Phase II are finished.