Do I have to sit to meditate? How should I sit?

Meditation Positions and Posture

Sitting is the most common meditation posture we teach at Ten Percent Happier but you don't have to sit to meditate. The goal is to maintain an alert focus on whatever anchor or focus you're using — like your breath, sounds in your environment, the feeling of your feet on the floor, or your hands. Meditation isn't restricted by position, ability, or equipment so try some different options and see which ones work for you. 


If you’re able, sit with an upright spine, lift up through the chest, don't over-arch or slouch in the lower spine, and relax your stomach and shoulders. Your chin should be slightly tilted down. Your hands can be folded in your lap or resting on your thighs. Make sure you have enough support under your seat so your butt's higher than your knees. You might may have to sit on a taller cushion to do this. This helps create a gentle arch in your low back that's essential for supporting the upper body without creating too much tension in your back. If you're sitting in a cross legged position you might also want to put cushions under your knees to support them. 

You can also sit in a chair, following the posture instructions above, with your feet resting flat on the floor. If your legs are shorter you can place a block or stack of books in front of the chair to rest your feet flat without straining.

Lying Down

If you want to meditate lying down, lie flat on your back with your feet slightly apart. Put a pillow under your knees for support if that feels comfortable or bend your legs and rest your feet on the floor. You can have your hands either out at your sides or your left hand on your heart and your right hand on your stomach. 


Standing seems simple, right? When you meditate while standing, try setting yourself up first by lightly rolling forward and backward, left and right on your feet — then come to center. Relax the abdomen and the shoulders. Tilt the chin slightly down, and keep your gaze soft. Your hands will be at your sides. Take a deep breath and you're ready.


Traditional walking meditation is done very slowly, with care and attention paid to how your feet make contact with the ground and leave the ground. However, you can meditate while walking at any speed. In the app, search for Walking to find different teachers’ approaches to walking meditation. You can also read more about walking meditation in our newsletter article Don't Just Sit There: An Introduction to Walking Meditation. Once you get the hang of it, you can practice meditation easily throughout your day. You can even incorporate loving-kindness into your walking meditation!

Here are several guided walking meditations on the app to get you started:

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