Meditation is about bringing your attention to the immediacy of the present moment. Whether you’re sitting, standing walking or lying down isn’t the important part. For most people sitting meditation is probably the best way to start and subsequently maintain their meditation practice. For others, meditating in a specific seated position for longer durations is too physically challenging, which can cause them to avoid the practice altogether. Since meditation isn’t dependant upon any specific posture, however attractive it may seem cough… the lotus position… it can nevertheless be done while lying down, on your bed on a yoga mat, a sufficiently thick carpet or what have you.
Here are a couple reasons why lying down meditation might suit you better than seated meditation:
- There’s no need to activate nor use any muscles since your body is at rest while lying down. This gives you more space to bring your awareness to the inner mechanics of your mind and to the diverse physical sensations that your senses take in.
- Physical discomfort is a big distraction when it comes to meditation, lying down most often is the best way to relieve discomforts and pains.
- You don’t need to maintain a posture. Passive yoga postures like the savasana posture come naturally and effortlessly.
- You give more time for your body to physically recover from training, injury or other demanding activities you might’ve done prior.
Having said that, the benefits of meditation are many and varied, ranging from the physical, mental and emotional to the spiritual. Don’t let yourself miss these gifts from within yourself because of physical discomfort, pain or restlessness.
Here’s a couple of pointers to help you get the most of your lying down meditation.
1. Create a meditation space
When you have a place, space or room in your home specific to meditation you’ll be doing yourself a big favor when it comes to enjoying the fruits of your practice. When it comes to lying down meditation, your bedroom and bed is an easy option to take, but that doesn’t mean that it is the right one. It could be mind you, but since the bed is primarily used for sleeping, using the bed for meditation can send the wrong “sleeeppppyyy” signals to your brain. If you’re sufficiently experienced that you trust yourself with meditating on your bed, then by all means do that.
For most people, especially beginners to meditation, I would rather recommend a comfortable yoga mat or a thick carpet of some sort to practice your meditation while lying down.
2. Choose a passive posture
A passive yoga posture like the savasana or the reclining goddess pose are two great choices when it comes to having a posture while lying down that you can associate with meditation in your mind. This helps your body to understand your intention easier through repetition.
3. Choose a simple meditation technique
The best meditation technique I would recommend for when lying down would be amongst the simplest, techniques like awareness of breath, or just witnessing how thoughts come and go, appear and disappear. I would avoid any technique or exercise which demands too much physical involvement. Just as the posture I would choose a passive meditation technique, where the only thing you need is your awareness and attention.
4. Meditate when you feel most awake
Meditating while sleepy will only make you doze off, so instead, try doing the opposite. When you’re feeling the most energetic and lively, go to your meditation space, lay down in your chosen passive posture and start cultivating the meditative state. This is a smart way to further your meditation, although it may prove challenging considering that your body and mind most likely wants to expend that energy for something else “more productive”. But that’s only a distraction, today we meditate!
Meditating while lying down works the same way you would do it sitting up. The essential key to a healthy meditation session and practice is to always strive for a cultivation of conscious awareness of the present moment as it is. Notice your breath, notice the body and its innumerable sensory inputs, notice the thoughts, their texture, their contents, how they come and go, one after another. Notice the sense of simply being alive. A paradoxically subtle yet all-pervasive feeling in your body, mind and soul.
Daniel Seeker is a wandering dervish and lifelong student of the past, present and future. He realized deep relaxations of the psyche when meditating in his hermit cave on the island of Gotland. His writings are mostly a reflection of that realizaton. Daniel currently studies history and philosophy at Uppsala Universitet, as he is currently writing his B.A. thesis in history which explores how Buddhist, Yogic and Hindu texts were first properly translated and introduced to the western world in the late 18th and 19th century.