Do you meditate? You’re reading a yoga blog so I’m guessing yes. Anyway, if you’re anything like me, you know at least two basic things about meditation. One, you know about the benefits it brings to your life, health and wellbeing. Two, you know it’s hard, especially as a beginner.
When I first began meditating, I suffered the usual newbie issues, both mental (lack of focus, mind racing, mind wandering, etc.), and physical (body stiffness, sore back, inability to hold the posture).
As is normal, many of these lessened over time and with practice, as my I gained focus and discipline through experience. Yet I still had problems holding me back. I would notice back pain, or leg muscles cramping, or even the feeling I was going to tip over (in sitting meditation). I’d notice my head was tilting forward, or my lower back rounding out, or my breathing being off because my mid spine was slouched. This pulled me out of meditation, and back into my body and head.
Through the whole time that I searched for solutions, I found none. Yet the solution came at me unplanned, and from a totally unexpected direction; postural correction. When the problems with my posture moved out of the realm of the aesthetic (I didn’t look good) and into the physical (I had health problems), when they moved out of the realm of the personal (they were my problem) on to others (my kids were developing my bad posture), then I knew I had to act.
So I learned to correct my slump and I got rid of my tech neck. I stretched and strengthened my back, neck and shoulders. I learned the form and habits of good posture, so I’m no longer slouching through life, and when I tell my kids to stand up straight, it’s no longer, “Do as I say, and not as I do.”
But in it all, a funny thing happened. Fixing my back and correcting my posture made meditation easier. Then I learned to scour the hip, and discovered that sitting cross legged actually forces my lower back to round out. So I had to change my meditation posture to match my body, rather than trying to force my body to match my meditation posture.
And, as I developed the strength and habits of good posture, I removed two major distractions from my meditation practice. My back is much stronger now, and I can hold the meditation posture more easily, with far less complaint from my back muscles. And since my spine is now habituated to good posture, it’s already properly aligned for meditation. Finally, since I have modified my meditation posture to my body, I neither have to constantly check in to ensure I’m sitting/standing correctly, nor am I pulled out by noticing poor posture.
If you’re having concentration issues during meditation, do yourself a favour, and check to see if your posture is getting in the way. If, like me, you have an unhealthy daily posture, it could be affecting much, much more.
A healthy spine is a healthy life, so let’s all learn to stand up right.