My First Alignment Is Not My Best Alignment

I begin my sitting in very good alignment by bringing the five major parts of my body into correct alignment as is taught in the lesson. In any given room of meditators, even in a room of monastics, I'd be in the top percentage of people beginning their sitting in good alignment. Many of the people who begin this way either lose this proper alignment or endure pain by keeping certain muscles tense in order to maintain their proper alignment. I'd say at the end of the sitting, I'm in the top 3% of people who have good alignment and whose muscles are well relaxed. This was not at all how I was during the first twenty five years of meditating. For twenty five years I was in the bottom one third of people whose spine was not erect and whose body was uncomfortable by the end of the sitting.

After this initial alignment of the five points, I also add in any shifting of my chest and shoulders that is appropriate. Then I allow any existing muscle tension to relax. If muscle tension stays, then pain will follow. Noticeable muscle tension also doesn't allow your posture to fully align and open. This relaxing of muscle tension may cause some slight improper shift in my body. I allow this slight improper shifting to happen.

Why will improper shifting occur after my body is initially positioned in good alignment? This is because my body, and every person's body, have many muscles that exert a distorting influence/pulling on the bones. (If you're not familiar with what distorting muscle tension is, click here to read that section). These distorting muscle tensions will pull my body from being in the best alignment that is possible. I, and almost everyone, start every sitting with many muscles that have enough tension to cause a pulling on my bones; therefore distorting my alignment/not allowing a full and open alignment of all of the bones of my body.

If I'm well established in having the best alignment possible (in the five key points taught in the posture lesson) without any muscle tension other than postural muscle tension, then my body will automatically begin to relax distorting muscle tension. As these distorting muscle tensions relax, my body is able to easily and automatically align in an even more proper way than its current position. (To read more about the proper alignment-muscle relaxation cycle, click here and go over halfway down the page).

The human body will automatically align better and better to gravity when you have the five key points established. Conversely, which is what happens to many people, the human body will continue to go toward worse alignment and more muscle tension the longer that you sit without one or more of the five key points properly aligned. Over the time of a long sitting, your body will produce the results of your alignment; for better and for worse.

A person who is not well aligned will develop more pain during their sitting. They do not have to put any attention to their posture for this to occur. Improper alignment will produce more pain and muscle tension automatically. As I sit with the five key points well aligned, I do not need any specific attention for my body to have more proper alignment and less muscle tension as I sit.

The goal of sitting posture during meditation is to have an erect spine in a relaxed body. When you have an erect spine in a relaxed body, then the energy in your body freely moves, your breathing has its optimal ease, and your attention has a better opportunity to quiet or to concentrate. Conversely, when your spine is not erect and your body has noticeable muscle tension, then the energy in your body is impeded and restless, your breathing has some restriction to it, and your attention, most likely, will be more restless.

When I first sit, my body has many muscles that are tight enough (with the tension not enough to draw my attention; the tensions are "under the radar") to distort the positioning of my bones to some degree. As I continue to sit with the five points well established, my body relaxes distorting/unneeded muscle tension. As this excess muscle tension is relaxed my alignment is allowed to become more proper. This proper alignment-muscle relaxation cycle can continue for the rest of my sitting without any attention from my mind. This is why the first alignment is not the best alignment of the sitting.

Occasionally my posture will move away from being upright; making that posture worse than my beginning posture. I then quickly scan the five points and find out what to correct for my body to re-enter the proper alignment-muscle relaxation cycle. As time goes by, this has been allowing the proper alignment-muscle relaxation cycle to become more and more active in meditation after meditation. My meditation posture and muscle relaxation continues to improve month by month. It's been a long time since my posture was worse at the end of the sitting (than at the beginning). This has also been experienced by many other people.

Having the foundation of proper posture in all five key areas of your body provides the necessary foundation to having an erect spine in a relaxed body during your meditation. Many people have written on the testimonial page that they now have an erect spine in a relaxed body during long meditations. This was not their experience prior to taking the lesson, even though they had been meditating regularly for decades.

Proper posture has been emphasized in all traditions. The reality is that a relatively small percentage of people who meditate do have an erect spine in a relaxed body during long meditations. By applying what you learn in this lesson to your root instructions, you'll have the opportunity to be in that small percentage of people whose body body fully and easily supports their meditation. This posture lesson is to support your root instructions and never to go against your root instructions. To read more about how this posture lesson supports your root instructions, click here.

To go back to the page titled The Three Types Of muscle tension and The Proper Alignment-Muscle Relaxation Cycle, click here.

To go back to the main page about the posture lesson for sitting meditation, click here.