It’s been all the rage for the past few years. We’ve all been reading about how flipping excellent seated meditation is for our health.
Go ahead and read this guide to over 100 benefits of meditation.
Every single one of those benefits has been scientifically proven, by the way. They are all unquestionably true.
As a meditation teacher, I know first hand just powerful meditation is. I’ve seen it change people’s lives time and again.
But here’s the problem:
If you’re expecting seated meditation to perform some sort of miracle in your life, you will probably end up disappointed.
Many people think meditation is a cure-all. They turn to meditation because it is a quick and relatively easy way to solve a lot of health problems, among them being anxiety, depression, and stress.
No question mindfulness and meditation are attractive choices for the individual looking to boost their health.
But meditation is not everything. And seated meditation is most definitely not everything. In fact, it can be harmful.
Do you practice seated meditation? If so leave a comment and let me know how you find the practice.
Another question: Do you only practice seated meditation? If so, read on.
We should use meditation to correct negative lifestyle choices
When we practice meditation we should do so to counteract inherent problems with our lifestyle.
For instance, if you generally live a noisy and busy life, you can use meditation to counteract the noise and to give your mind moments of quiet.
If you have a lot of animosity in your life you can use loving kindness meditation to undo the damage of bad relationships and create feelings of love and support.
If you never get time to yourself, you can use meditation to silence out other people so you can focus on yourself.
In these instances, we are using meditation to undo the damage done by negative aspects of our lifestyle. And that is precisely why the average person should not practice seated meditation.
Sitting is one of the most common problems with the average lifestyle
The average person spends 7.7 hours every day sitting down.
That is staggering amount of time. It adds up to 2810 hours a year sitting.
This sedentary lifestyle has serious health implications.
The American Medical Association states that sitting for extended periods of time can have serious health implications. And a series of scientific studies has shown that sitting down for too long can cause many serious illnesses.
Spending too long sitting down can cause:
- High blood pressure
- Cardiovascular disease
- And more
You can read about the health risks of sitting on the Harvard blog.
So why the hell would you want to spend even more time sitting down when you’re meditating? It makes absolutely no sense.
Standing and movement meditations are better for most people
If you spend too long sitting down, it is just good sense to stand or move when meditating.
So why don’t we do it?
Truth is: the average meditator does not know that there are very many different meditation techniques, and that seated meditation is just one of them.
The vast majority of the time, when we hear about meditation it is seated meditation. And when we see a picture or video of someone meditating, they are generally sitting down.
We’ve come to associated meditation with sitting.
But seated meditations are just one type.
Take a look at this list of different forms of meditations. It contains over 30 styles of meditation. And only a handful of them demand that you be seated.
So, if you spend too long sitting down already, for the love of Zeus don’t do seated meditation.
Alternative meditations that are better than sitting
Instead of seated meditations, try these:
Zen walking is basically mindfulness of walking. It is a practice in which we take a slow and purposeful walk along a straight path. While walking we hold our hands in Cosmic mudra and meditate on the movement in our legs. This offers relaxation for both the mind and the body.
I wanted to help you get started on this so I wrote a free guide to Zen Walking. Take a look.
Most types of meditation that we do sitting down we can also do standing up. Smart choice. Why? Because the simple act of standing up offers lots of health benefits to those who live sedentary lifestyles. If you have the opportunity of choosing to stand instead of sitting, take it.
One of the leading spiritual gurus of the 1900s was Osho. Osho believed that it would be near impossible for a beginner to find focus while sitting down. Those new to meditation have many distractions that lead them to fidget.
A better solution, Osho taught, was to meditate while moving. In the 1950s Osho devised Dynamic Meditation Technique. It’s an excellent way to meditate while moving. Take a look at that link and give it a try.
Scientific research has proven that dance is one of the best exercises for mental health (you can read more about this in Christopher Bergland’s article on Psychology Today).
- improves coordination
- boosts intelligence
- releases endorphins
- heightens the mind-body connection
Basically, dance is one of the best things you can do for your mental health.
To make dance even healthier, try meditative dance.
For thousands of years spiritualists and religious groups have used dance as a form of healing. And we can too.
Take a look at this guide to dance meditation and give it a shot. What spinach does to Popeye, meditative dance does for your brain.
Still determined to do seated meditation?
If you really must sit down, for goodness sake please at least sit properly.
Also, undo the harm done by sitting. How? Try these exercises:
- Tai Chi
And remember to exercise your mind too
As well as practicing movement techniques, it’s best to try other spiritual healing practices too.
Lisa Dale Millar has written about how meditation alone is not enough. You can read her article on the excellent DharmaWisdom, which is a fabulous publication by former Esquire editor Phillip Moffitt.
Lisa states that when it comes to therapy, meditation should be practiced alongside other healing techniques. Others have shared the same view, among them being Giovanni Dienstmann from LiveAndDare and Judy Lief, who is Dharma editor of the Ocean Series of Shambhala Publications.
The first rule of meditation should be this: practice it alongside other health and healing techniques.
Meditation is a key part of the puzzle, but it’s still just one piece
Meditation is not the be all and end all. It should be used as one part of an overall healthy lifestyle.
Far too many people are attempting to use meditation as a cure-all. It won’t work.
Even the most devout Buddhists do not just use meditation. They eat health diets. They learn movement techniques, including dance. They study philosophy. They use meditation as one part of the puzzle.
Meditation is just one part of a bigger picture.
What other practices do you use alongside meditation? Leave a comment.