Body posture is an essential aspect of achieving a stable meditation. It is believed by the masters that by creating an auspicious condition in your body, and by cultivating a tranquil environment, the realization of higher consciousness will naturally arise.
Contrary to popular belief, meditation is not passive. This is a practice; an action that must be intentionally placed. In meditation, the natural center of the mind is the desired destination. The posture and energy of the body is how we get there.
The Nature of Stillness
The complete stillness of the mind is our natural state. Underneath the aggressive waves of the everyday mind rests a continuous stream of stable consciousness. This space always exists at our core, and the energy of this stream is pure silence, pure calm, and pure serenity. However, as I’m sure you may have noticed, we are rarely present here.
Especially in today’s growing matrix of potential distraction, the mind is usually preoccupied with consecutive thoughts, attachments, and analysis. This eventually causes our natural position of balance to become weak.
By visiting the core stream of stability more often, meditation allows us to strengthen this connection. The whole purpose of achieving a correct posture is to create an encouraging environment for this connection to naturally take place.
Mind and Body
Mind and body are interrelated, and when one is off-kilter, the other is also affected. The mind is always sending signals to the body, and it can be felt throughout the body when the mind is in a tense or anxious state.
In the same way, when the body is uneasy and uncomfortable, the mind will find it hard to settle into stability and focus. Meditation arises naturally when the body is comfortable and the mind is given a chance to ease up.
Find Your Posture with Thogal Meditation
Dzogchen is a collection of Buddhist teachings based on the concept of recognizing our true nature through meditation. Dzogchen in Tibetan means ‘utterly complete’ or ‘great perfection.’ The path is to practice a nondual approach, introducing and realizing your own original, inherent, immanent Buddha-nature. Thogal meditation is an extension of this path.
The practice of Thogal is to just experience things as they are, fully and completely. You realize that there is nothing to hold onto, and there is no need to attach yourself to anything at all. You experience the vastness of space and the sense of no boundary.
The feeling of realizing this state of calm, collected focus is often accompanied by invigorated euphoria and can even produce insightful bursts of mental imagery. This experience is sometimes associated with ‘yogic bliss.’
Practicing Thogal means there is nothing we need to obtain in order to realize deep meditation. We need only to recognize and allow ourselves to be as we actually are. This is the path of immediate self-liberation.
The purpose of Thogal meditation is to arrive at the natural state of a luminous, pure mind referred to as Rigpa — knowledge of the original wakefulness that is a personal experience. Visiting this technique regularly is meant to guide us towards the realization of the nature of reality.
Not only is this meditation technique exciting and deeply satisfying, this posture is also great for beginners due to its natural and comfortable style.
Thogal Meditation Posture
In the teachings of Dzogchen — the Buddhist discipline of finding one’s true state of rest — posture during meditation is very symbolic. In this natural state of meditation, your view and your posture should be like a mountain — steady and unshakable.
Sit with your legs crossed. You do not have to sit in the full lotus position. The half lotus might be more comfortable and more appropriate for this meditation.
- Emphasized more in advanced yoga practice.
- The meditator is able to sit comfortably with legs crossed, and feet resting on opposite thighs, with soles facing upwards.
- The crossed legs symbolize the unified process of life and the humor of nonduality.
- Lotus position is the expression of wisdom, nirvana, and balance of good and bad; masculine and feminine.
- This position comes very close to the stability and grounded energy of the full lotus.
- One foot is on the opposite thigh with the sole pointing upwards, while the other rests on the floor.
- This position is more comfortable and much more appropriate for the beginner and intermediate meditation.
Tip: The ability to meditate in any of the sitting postures is determined largely by the flexibility of your ankles, knees, and hips. In most cases, some type of support is needed in order to maintain proper alignment and comfort during meditation. In the lotus posture, the traditional Zen Meditation Cushions can be used to raise your hips and upper body so that your legs can rest comfortably.
- Keep your back straight, but not forced. The base of your spine should have a natural curve. Your shoulders should be square and your upper body should be balanced comfortably. This posture will allow your inner energy to flow naturally through the subtle channels of your body.
- In this style of meditation, your eyes should be left open and your gaze should be established, peaceful and receptive. Your view is highly influential to your body and posture. Your view is the expression of your core being and insight into nature.
- Look straight forward, and slightly lower your gaze. One general guideline during meditation is that whenever your mind is wild, it is best to lower your gaze, and whenever your mind is tired and foggy, bring the gaze slightly up.
- Keep your eyes open but do not focus on anything in particular. Keeping the eyes open will prevent you from drifting off and allow you to remain open and at peace with the nature of your surroundings instead of shutting it out. In the Buddhist tradition, the eyes are the ‘wisdom channels’, connecting the luminosity of reality to the heart.
- Your mouth should also be slightly open in a natural, relaxed way. Breathing naturally through the mouth is believed to allow the ‘karmic winds’ of distraction to become a lot less likely to arise.
- In meditation, your senses should be allowed to open up into their natural state without the need to examine their perceptions.
- Rest your hands naturally onto your knees. This sends a signal of comfort and ease to your mind and body.
- Breathe naturally, be still, and allow your true nature to settle in.
Let your mind rise and fly into a most natural state. There is no effort required, just release. When you feel established and are able to get comfortable in this posture, you are providing the ideal conditions for your true nature to emerge.
Traditionally, this pose is the imitation of Buddha in order to acknowledge and respect the potential of your true Buddha nature. Allow the flow of meditation to arise naturally and realize that you will develop the ability to go a little deeper the more you practice.