I am listening to one of Sam Harris´ Daily Meditations. They invariably begin with something like this:
Okay, just sit comfortably.Doesn't matter whether you're on a chair or couch, or on a cushion on the floor. Any position where you can be alert is fine.
In principle, I like that. Below, in the first foto, that's who I am, by nature. The second foto shows what I do, even if I cannot perform in such perfection.
I am lazy. The thought of comfort reduces the resistance to beginning a meditation session.
But, is the "sit comfortably" instruction really best suited?
No, long-term it' s not for me, so I don´t do it. The more frequently I sit in the 7-points posture, the better it feels. Like a mountain, as they say...
My partner too prefers the cross-legged position. Not for scholastic reasons, but because it gives her a good grounded physical experience. Unfortunately, she has a knee problem that makes even a simplified version of this position painful. She rather skips meditation than using a less painful position. That's how much it is worth to her.
Why sit in a specific way?
The traditional literature has often somewhat strange explanations why the 7-point position is good for you.
The "Pointing Out the Great Way" (POW) method prescribes a specific way of sitting, as does Culadasa in "The Mind Illuminated".
Aikihige (1970) conducted a study of muscle activation during adopting a meditation posture in beginning and advanced Zen monks. He found that from the perspective of the striated musculature meditation is not at all relaxing, but more accurately is seen as the even output and distribution of muscle work. it takes a good deal of muscle work from large muscles in the body. (...) to hold the upper trunk throughout concentration. This muscle work has to beneficial effects. It maintains a certain level of alertness and is a significantly correlated with less rather than more mind-wandering. When we say that the body posture is the foundation for training concentration. This means that it is easier to train concentration while maintaining good body posture because the mind stays more alert and the mind wanders less. (Bissanti 2022,)
The Seven Point Posture
These are the traditional seven body points.
1. Feet- cross-legged
2. Spine– straight
3. Upper Trunk– upright and open
4. Hands– equipose
5. Neck– slightly bent
6. Tongue– touching upper palate
7. Eyes– half open, fixed, unfocused
You can refer to the detail through the attached links. I recommend Escoffier.
Unfortunately I could not verify the given source via Google
Bissanti, M., Brown, D. P., & Pasari, J. (2022). The Elephant Path: Attention Development and Training in Children and Adolescents (2.). Mustang Bon Foundation.
Culadasa (Mind Illuminated)
Yates (Culadasa), J., & Immergut, M. (2017). The Mind Illuminated: A Complete Meditation Guide Integrating Buddhist Wisdom and Brain Science for Greater Mindfulness. Hay House Uk.
Sam Harris (Website)
Sam Harris. (2022). Sam Harris. https://www.samharris.org/
Escoffier (7 Points)
Escoffier, N. (2022, June 25). Seated Like A Buddha : The Seven Points Posture Of Vairocana. Nicolas Escoffier, PhD. https://nicolasescoffier.com/seven-point-posture-vairocana/
Pointing out the Great Way (Retreat levels)
Pointing Out the Great Way - Retreat Levels. (2022). Pointing Out the Great Way (Original Foundation). https://www.pointingoutthegreatway.com/retreat-levels
Vairotsana. (n.d.). Seven-point posture of Vairochana - Rigpa Wiki. Rigpa Wiki. https://www.rigpawiki.org/index.php?title=Seven-point_posture_of_Vairochana