The meditation postures a person uses will affect their experience. Sitting meditation is most commonly used, but there is also standing meditation, lying meditation and moving meditation. Each of these universal meditation techniques arouses different qualities in the practitioner. Sitting accesses the inner teacher, standing activates the inner warrior, lying promotes the inner healer and moving ignites the inner creator.
“Meditation itself is the process of being alone with oneself for the process of conscious discovery in time that is designated as ‘sacred time’ for going inward. It can be an active form of meditation like the Western modes of prayer, creative visualization and affirmations, or it can evoke spontaneous information that can arrive in induced periods of silence and contemplation found in many Eastern modes of meditation. Any style that is preferred becomes a beginning portal for accessing the Divine within.” ~ Angeles Arrien
Angeles Arrien, a cultural anthropologist, author and educator, has researched these universal meditation postures and written about them in The Four Fold Way: The Paths of the Warrior, Teacher, Healer and Visionary. For more information on the book, click the image above.
I was fortunate to have Angels Arrien as one of my teachers when I did my graduate work at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in California. Part of my studies included practicing the four universal meditation postures. I have described each of them below.
Four Universal Meditation Postures
Sitting Meditation – Accessing the Inner Teacher and Wisdom
Sitting is a common meditation technique used in both Eastern and Western cultures as a way to contemplate, discover and experience God, Source, the Universe or whichever term practitioners use to describe the divine. Some sit with legs crossed on the floor while others sit with legs uncrossed in a chair.
Angeles Arrien views this sitting posture as a way to transform the inner judge or critic to the objective mind or fair witness. It is “an opportunity to receive guidance and inner direction to how one could handle his or her own life with wisdom.” She also notes that this meditation technique helps people to move beyond polarities and dichotomies that people experience in daily living.
I know I have personally experienced transcending polar opposites such as right/wrong, good/bad, success/failure, and nice/mean through sitting meditation. When I look at two sides of a dichotomy as symbols of energy and then imagine rising above them to a higher, spiritual plane, I see things just as they are without judgment, and I experience a feeling of wholeness and peace.
Standing Meditation – Accessing the Inner Warrior and Presence
Standing with legs and arms uncrossed and eyes open is a meditation posture found in Oriental, Tibetan and Shamanistic practices. This posture activates the experience of standing up for oneself, taking a stand, setting boundaries and operating from a place of self-respect. From this stance a person has presence and personal power.
Angeles Arrien discovered that “In Eastern terms ‘the warrior’ is an individual who has the ability to honor and respect oneself and others. It is that quality of being aware and present without efforting or holding back. It is the capacity to own one’s presence and personal power without giving it away or deflecting it.”
When I practice this standing posture out in nature I find it helps me to feel stronger, bolder and more empowered to move forward in my life.
Lying Meditation – Accessing the Inner Healer and Love
This posture where a person is lying down with eyes closed (and one arm up bent at the elbow to prevent them from falling asleep or to awake them when it falls to the ground) is used in some Buddhist and Shamanistic practices. It is a conscious meditation for the purposes of healing and nurturing oneself and others.
Angeles Arrien describes it as “A way of accessing healing, nurturing, loving and caring energy from within…that is most associated with replenishment and direct experiencing of human love and divine love.”
This is a meditation posture I do each evening before going to bed; I lie on the couch listening to relaxing, meditative music while connecting to the God of my heart. It is indeed nurturing and replenishing (plus it helps to set the tone for a good night’s sleep).
Moving Meditation – Accessing the Inner Creator and Creativity
Moving meditation is often identified as a walking meditation, but with present moment awareness, any form of movement can be used as a meditation. This can induce altered states of consciousness where people open up to intuitive insights and creative solutions.
“This posture supports the aspects of trust, openness, and encourages the unexpected since one’s attention is engaged in a moving activity,” says Angeles. “Perhaps moving meditations teach human beings about the wonder of what can happen when one trusts and lets go of control.”
I love the aliveness and creativity I experience when I am present while doing yoga, dancing or walking out in nature.
There are many spiritual health benefits of meditating. These four meditation postures ensure a balanced experience. Which ones have you tried and what has been your experience?
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