The practice is to be done first of all in a meditation posture, preferably on a cushion or folded blanket on the floor, with one foot up on the opposite thigh and the other foot underneath, forming a triangle on which the body can be supported for a long time. Failing this, the practitioner may sit on a chair, but without supporting himself on the back of it.
The general posture of the back is something like that of a horseman looking into the distance. The spine is balanced, which means fairly straight, and the weight of shoulders and head should be felt to rest on the loins. Hands are locked together in some way, and eyes half shut or, if there is no tendency to sleep, fully closed. Westerners should cultivate where possible a seated position on the floor; it does not have associations of sleep for them and they can easily remain awake with eyes closed. The posture is much more difficult for Eastern people from those countries where they have sat on the floor from childhood, and been used to dropping off at odd moments. To Westerners, going to sleep often involves a ritual of going to bed; this fact makes meditation on the floor easier for them, so far as avoiding sleep is concerned.
To acquire a firm posture for meditation is a great advantage. For some people it is an absolute necessity. Passing thoughts and feelings are expressed by the face; longer-lasting moods by the movement or repose of the limbs; the fundamental attitude to life by the posture of the whole body, symmetrical and balanced or otherwise. Moreover, these expressions reinforce their causes, which is an important fact in training.
Someone who is worried or irritated by every triviality should sometimes face a mirror and slowly smooth the lines from the forehead till it is clear. Those who are professional worriers can use a rosary to repeat a mantra or a name of God silently, holding it somewhere at the centre line of the body, and keeping the other limbs still. One whose whole attitude to life is distorted should periodically bring the attention to the centre line of the body, the limbs into symmetry and the body straight; he should remain like that for a few minutes every so often. After some practice, the posture can be maintained in essentials during clerical work, and in many cases physical work also.
© Trevor Leggett