What clothing should I wear while I meditate ?
It is important that whatever you are wearing is loose fitting – is warm – and is comfortable.
A lot of the meditation systems use a sort of ‘Uniform’ – mainly the Martial Arts, and of course all the monks – and it is always very loose and comfortable.
Some people like to use some kind of cloak, as this can be wrapped around you to keep drafts out, and is a very adaptable type of clothing -(remember that I pointed out earlier that you tend to ‘cool off’ during meditation.)
Click on the name to go to my Tools page, for recommendations for places to buy meditation clothing.
(…several people have asked me about that. I have also been asked if I know of any nude meditation retreats, or ‘clothing optional’ retreats –
….I don’t, but if anyone does have this information please let me know and I can pass it along.)
What about the room where I meditate ?
The actual room where you meditate is not as important as the clothing.
What is important is – as far as possible – to use the same room each time.
This way, your subconscious mind becomes used to that particular room, and will put you into a meditative frame of mind much quicker.
Some people set aside a special room – used only for meditation.
Sometimes these rooms will have different types of meditation objects or paraphernalia, such as incense, candles, yantras and tankas, meditation benches and so on.
Typically a Zen meditation room design is rather spartan, with not much in the way of extras, except perhaps a meditation bench.
Whatever room you use, (probably most people use their bedroom), it is important that the room feels comfortable for you, is warm enough, and has a comfortable chair or stool or bench that you can do your meditation on, and has whatever clothing you are going to use for your meditation.
What about Meditation positions or postures ?
The most important thing to remember with the posture is that your back is straight, and that you are not slouched.
This supposedly helps the flow of the Chi energy, that we talked about before.
Also, if your back is straight, you are much less likely to get backache from being in the same position for 20 minutes.
Apart from that, it is up to you.
Probably most people will sit in a chair.
Make sure that firstly – it is comfortable ( a soft cushion to sit on is a great idea), secondly – that your back is straight, thirdly – that your feet are flat on the floor, and fourthly – that your clothing is warm enough.
You can also sit on a cushion or soft mat or stool, either sitting in the usual position or in some cross-legged position, such as the Lotus Position.
This is like a low bench, that you use by first kneeling on a soft mat or blanket, then you put the small bench across your calves a little way behind the knees, and sit back onto it.
Surprisingly it is quite comfortable, I use this method fairly often, and later on in the website, in my Tools page I give you complete online instructions on how to build your own meditation or Seiza bench.
(Click on the Tools Page name above to check it out)
I must emphasize that comfort is very important.
People who meditate in a sitting position without a soft cushion underneath them, often get aching in the legs.
People who meditate either sitting cross-legged or kneeling, can be prone to get inflammations and discomforts in the knees if they are not comfortable or flexible enough for these positions. (The so-called ‘meditator’s knee’ !)
People who do not have appropriate clothing will often feel cold later in the meditation.
One other point about positions that often comes up is –
What do I do with my hands ?!
Most people by far, hold their hands loosely in their laps, often with one hand inside the other and palm sides up.
Basically it is not important….whatever is the most comfortable hand position for you !
There is, in the Buddhist and Yogic traditions, a whole lot of information about different hand positions.
Each hand position has special meaning and significance, and they are called MUDRAS, and in some philosophies are thought to actually have an influence on the consciousness of the meditator.
However I do not know enough about the theory of this to be able to teach it to you effectively.
The most common Buddhist Mudra, and one a lot of people use in meditation, is with the right hand resting on top of the left, palms up, (like the pictures of Buddha’s begging bowl), and with the tips of the thumbs touching.
A few quick final points
Quiet is desirable during most passive type meditations – so take the phone off the hook – and choose quiet times of the day.
Most passive type meditations are done with the eyes closed, or almost so. (Except for the followers of the Soto Zen tradition who meditate with their eyes open and facing a wall).
Finally, do not expect overnight changes in yourself.
The long term benefits of meditation, of whatever type, do not happen rapidly, so be patient and persevere !
Happy meditating !