By Thich Nhat Hanh
Joy of Meditation as Nourishment
in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I smile.
in, I dwell in the present moment.
Breathing out, I know it is a wonderful moment.
most stable posture for meditation is sitting cross-legged
on a cushion. Choose a cushion that is the right thickness
to support you. The half lotus and full lotus positions
are excellent for establishing stability of body and
mind. To sit in the lotus position, gently cross your
legs by placing one foot (for the half lotus) or both
feet (for the full lotus) on opposite thighs. If the
lotus position is difficult, it is fine just to sit
cross-legged or in any comfortable position. Allow
your back to be straight, keep your eyes half closed,
and fold your hands comfortably in your lap. If you
prefer, you can sit in a chair with your feet flat
on the floor and your hands resting in your lap. Or
you can lie on the floor, on your back, with your
legs straight out, a few inches apart, and your arms
at your sides, preferably palms up.
If your legs or feet fall asleep or begin to hurt
during sitting meditation so that your concentration
becomes disturbed, feel free to adjust your position.
If you do this slowly and attentively, following your
breathing and each movement of your body, you will
not lose a single moment of concentration. If the
pain is severe, stand up, walk slowly and mindfully,
and when you are ready, sit down again.
In some meditation centers, practitioners are not
permitted to move during periods of sitting meditation.
They often have to endure great discomfort. To me,
this seems unnatural. When a part of the body is numb
or in pain, it is telling us something, and we should
listen to it. We sit in meditation to help us cultivate
peace, joy, and nonviolence, not to endure physical
strain or to injure our bodies. To change the position
of our feet or do a little walking meditation will
not disturb others very much, and it can help us a
Sometimes, we can use meditation as a way of hiding
from ourselves and from life, like a rabbit going
back to his hole. Doing this, we may be able to avoid
some problems for awhile, but when we leave our "hole,"
we will have to confront them again. For example,
if we practice our meditation very intensely, we may
feel a kind of relief as we exhaust ourselves and
divert our energy from confronting our difficulties.
But when our energy returns, our problems will return
We need to practice meditation gently, but steadily,
throughout our daily life, not wasting a single opportunity
or event to see deeply into the true nature of life,
including our everyday problems. Practicing in this
way, we dwell in profound communion with life.
From Peace Is Every Step, Page 16