This Posture meditation article is our third one on Vipassana meditation. To make the background, it is important to refer previous article on Vipassana meditation. Posture Meditation is the literature translation of the Pali word “Iriyapatha Pabba”. It is the second section of Kayanupassana Meditation in Satara Satipattana Sutta. Or it can be considered as another step of the Vipassana Meditation. It is the meditation method which one develop insight with concentrating on 4 postures. In Satipatthana Sutta, it is mentioned as follow.
“Gacchanta va gacchamiti pajanati.”
When one walks, he knowing by insight that “walking”
“Dhitho va dhitomhiti pajanati.”
When one stands, he knowing by insight that “standing”
Nisinno va nisinnomhiti pajanati.”
When one sits, he knowing by insight that “sitting”
“Sayano va sayanomhiti pajanati”
When one lays, he knowing by insight that “lying”
Even animals know about their walking, standing and sleeping postures. But this is different. In here the Pali term, “Pajanati” means knowing by insight, knowing in absolute clarity or wisdom knows. This is the uniqueness of Posture Meditation.
One who doesn’t understand Satipattana meditation, he walks, lays, stands with the self-nature that “I’m going, I’m standing, I’m sitting and I am lying”. But it is not the right Posture Meditation in Vipassana. The important thing is that one who experiences this meditation, he concentrates and wisdom knows about 4 postures. That’s why in here, his concentration on self-nature is not happens. With the knowing in absolute clarity he rejects the thought of “I and My”. Like this, if one practices this Posture Meditation, he is the right person who follows Vipassana. Make sure about this point before you meditate. Let’s study how is the wisdom arises?
This is how walking happens according to Posture Meditation
- “Gacchamiti cittan uppajjati.” – A mind arises as walking.
- “Tan wayan janeti.” – That mind arises an air. (the air of functional consciousness)
- “Wayo vinnattin janeti.” – This air arises an intimation to move the body. It is named as “Kaya vinnatti”, means the intimation through the body.
- “Citta kiriya wayo dhatu vippharena sakala kayassa purato abhiniharo gamananti wuccati.” – Simply this is the happening. When the mind arouses the air, it immediately runs all over the body like a gas. With the message of this air, the bodily intimation arises and move the body forward. This concern as the walking.
This is how “standing” happens
One who is walking, a mind can be aroused to standing/ pause. He thinks that as “stand”. Suddenly an air is aroused. It is named as “Cittaja Wayu”. This air arises the “Winnatti” means the intimation through the body. With the air and its functional thought, lifts the body from the ends (head to feet). This is the “standing”.
This is how sitting happens
One who is standing, a thought is aroused to “sit”. This mind arises an air. This air arouses the “Kaya Winnatti” means thought to move or the bodily intimation. The air runs all over the body. Then the intimation through the body functions, shrinking the bottom and lift only the upper body. This is called “sitting”.
This is how lying happens
One who is walking or standing or sitting, he may think to lying. This mind arises an air. This air arises the intimation through the body to move the body. With the spreading the “Cittakiiya Wayo Dhatu” (the air of functional consciousness) the body is stretched across. It is called as lying.
One who does Posture Meditation, he should be wisdom concentrate about these postures. As there is no being walking, standing, sitting and lying. It is just only a kind of action happening very fast. Without a mind of self-nature as there is a being, a person, I or My. This is the exact Posture meditation in Satipatthana according to Vipassana Meditation.
There are just Only Four elements
According to Buddhism, all visible materials in this universe has emerged from them are also called Maha Butha Rupa. They are Solid (Patavi), liquid (Apo), Calorific (Tejo) and oscillatory (Vayo). So your and my bodies are nothing more than a collection of components that are found throughout the Universe. This is another important understanding for the posture meditation.
01. Pathavi – Solidness of softness
Simply, anything that we can touch is included to this component. When we consider our body, our flesh, bones, hair, nails, kidneys, lungs, brain, heart, liver and so on are this kind.
02. Apo – The water elements
Not only water but also blood, urine, sweat, tears, snot (mucus), bile, phlegm, pus and so on. It helps things hang together. Just like one adds water to flour, it makes dough.
03. Tejo – temperature
This means the warm or cold. We expand our comfort level and open ourselves up to the realization that our body contains all temperatures. This includes causes fever, ageing, digesting etc.
04. Vayo – Air element
This refers to the body’s breath (up going air and down going air), air in the stomach, intestine, wind and movements. When we move it’s as though the wind has taken oven. Even when we walk, we can see that we are dispersing air and creating movement.
Make the background for posture meditation as follow
Before you practice posture meditation, you should have a good foundation of morality. Otherwise there is no point in trying. To build a good morality, follow the five percepts, that are refrain from killing, refrain from stealing, refrain from sexual misconducts, refrain from lying and refrain from consuming alcohol. If you have kill someone, of you have stolen something or if you have consumed alcohol how can you concentrate? How can you free from obstacles? Then your mindfulness will be loss. If you have break even a percept, take all percepts over again. Forgive yourself and develop morality.
After you came to your meditation location, before meditate take a moment to respect to the Buddha, respect to the Dhamma and respects to the Sangha. (respect to triple gem)
May I pay respect to the Buddha!
May I pay respect to the Dhamma!
May I pay respect to the Sangha!
It is easy for you to choose a flat and quite place to start Posture meditation. This flat ground should be about 10-15 meters long to walk. If there is a tree and its shadow and cool pleasant surrounding may be a good support to your Posture meditation.
Be mindful about your body. And close our eyes and just stand for a moment. Concentrate. Now if you feel that you are ready to open eyes, resting your gaze on the ground in front of your own, slowly begin walking. Then move your right foot and pause. Breath in. shift the weight on the right step as you can lift the left and step down. In this moment, your legs will be straight from the (waistline) through to the tips of your foot. Concentrate about your walk. When you mindful, you know that walking. Your bodily organs will become normal. And the belly will function accordingly. Continue your walking slowly and be mindful. Think about how the four elements comprising. Solid, fluid, heat and air function at its best.
Just do one step at a time as if you had all time. If there is a disturb, then pause, reconnect and begin afresh. Now if you have reach to the end of your path, stand, close your eyes and tune in to the practice before turning around and beginning walking again.
When you turning, note about each steps as left, right. Be mindful as “Turning. Turning…”. Gradually concentrate about your feet moments as heel up (Uddharana), lifting (Atiharana), moving (Vitiharana), lowering (Wossajjana), touching (Santikkhepana) and placing (Santirumbhana).
When you lift the heel, note that “heel up”. Pause. Lift the foot straight up, noting “lifting”. Pause. Move the foot forward, noting that “moving”. Pause. Lower the foot noting “lowering”. Pause. When the foot is about an inch from the ground, touch the toes-only the toes, to the ground noting, “touching”. Pause. Place the heel on the ground noting “placing.”
- In the two parts step’s walking, note as “lifting and placing.”
- In the three parts step’s walking, note as “lifting, moving and placing.”
- In the four parts step’s walking note as “heel up, lifting, moving and placing.”
- In the five parts step’s walking note as “heel up, lifting, moving, lowering and placing.”
- In the six part’s step’s walking note as “heel up, lifting, moving, lowering, touching and placing.”
When you move your feet, you can concentrate this as reverse. In here you can apply the Dependent Origination (Paticcasamuppada). The moment of “heel up” doesn’t come to the next moment of “lifting” if it annihilates right there. The moment of “lifting”, doesn’t come to the next moment of “moving” if it annihilates right there. Like this concentrate about arising and cessation about steps.
If you concentrate well you can avoid from the Self nature. When you mindful you may think that, who is walking? Is there is any person walking? Am I walking? Is he is walking? Already you may have got the answers.
When you concentrate deeply, you may understand that, mind, air and thought to move the body to go forward. This is the walking. This is only existing combination of the mind air and functional consciousness and a fast action. There is no being who is walking. All are just phenomenon only. Though it is said that he is walking, standing, but there is no animal being or a person who is walking or standing. This is the truth of characteristics of existing. Now you can realize the impermanence, suffering and selfless nature around us. Therefore, posture meditation just not a breathing practice or exercise.
Think about this simile. If we say as a caravan moving or pausing, really there is no moving or pausing caravan. If there are carts, bulls or there is a man as a driver to move or leads the caravan we say the caravan is moving or pausing. This body is same as this caravan. The air of functional consciousness same as the bulls. The mind is same as the driver. When a thought arises to “move”, suddenly the air of functional consciousness arises. When the air spreads all over the body the bodily intimation through the body, functions and moves the body forward. This mind that moving is name as moving. This understanding is an important point in posture meditation.
When you walking, you may feel pause your walking. That means, standing. Then place your feet shoulder with apart. And let your arms hang by your side or together at the waist. If you want to open your eyes you can open eyes slowly. But your attention must be entirely within concentrate in your posture. Keep your head is well balanced over the body. Relax down inti an erect curved spine. Now the energy in the body can flows freely. Let your hips by rolling the pelvis forward and bend the knees a little so that they are not locked tight. Be familiar with tune off your breath. Think that how contact of the feet on the ground and whole body standing with the selfless nature. Realize that, all are nothing more than a collection of components that mentioned as above.
This is the third step of posture meditation. When you standing, after few minutes, you may feel to sit. Many people like this sitting posture to calmness and stability of the mind.
When you feel to sit, sit down resting your hands comfortably on your knees or lap. Make sure to open your chest area. If your spine is curved, it will distract meditating. After relax your shoulders too and bring them down back. Slightly push your chin in allowing the neck to be straighter than usual. Roll the top of your hips. Forward, so that your abdomen opens and the spine is able to straight. If you feel a cushion seat, chair or stool is comfortable to help your hips to tilt forward, use one. Be thoughtful about the height of your cushion or chair.
There can be seen several types of sitting posture
- Sri Lankan or Thai style: in here, the meditator bends one leg across the front with the knee pointing out to the side. As well as bend the other leg to one side so that the knee points to the front. (in here first leg touches the base of the other foot and the foot points behind him.)
- Japanese style: sitting as kneel with the buttock resting on a cushion or a stool. In here make sure not to put too much weight on strain on your knees.
- Burmese style: If you use this style, bend both legs with knees pointing out to the sides and with both lower legs and feet resting on the floor. Then one in front of the other leg. Change which leg is in front, as possible.
- Lotus style: this style is same as Burmese style. But, in here with one or both feet and lower legs crossed on top of the opposite calf or flank.
If you are sitting on a chair, rest your feet firmly on the floor or a cushion. Sit up right without leaning on the back of the chair is possible. Keep the front edge of the chair from cutting off circulation through the back of the legs.
When you are sitting, normally you may feel little pains sometimes. For instance; if there is a pain in your leg, label the sensation with the mental note “pain” or “feeling”, without regarding it as “mine” or linking to a specific body part. Realize that are nothing more than a collection of components of four major elements.
Final step of the posture meditation is Lying posture. I here, select a soft surface. It can help to your meditation posture. When you feel free to Lying, do as most comfortable for you. There are three types.
- Lying on the back: this method is done usually without a pillow beneath the head. To support the lower back it helps to rise the knees or lower legs, within cushion or folded blanket.
- Lying on the side: this use to keep the spine aligned. And it helps to have a pillow under your head and cushion or folded blanket between your knees. Further, bending the knees together, you can keep the spine straight.
- Lying on the front: you can use a small pillow or folded cloth in here. There is no too much strain on the neck and it may help to rise your chin-side shoulder slightly.
Sometimes lying posture can be little bit challenging method for you because of it tendency you fall asleep. Therefore, be mindful. Then you can use any technique to continues meditate. When you lying down, you can be mindful of the sensations generated by the contact of the body with the surface. If you concentrate well, you might think about the inability to provide lasting satisfaction and selfless nature. Until you fall asleep, you can concentrate. Here too concentrate as are there is nothing more than a collection of components.
At the end,
If one practiced posture meditation exactly, according to Satipatthana Sutta he can gain follow benefits.
- “Ithi ajjhattan wa kaye kayanupassi viharati.” He knows about his four postures insight, as this manner.
- “Bahiddha wa kaye kayanupassi viharati.” He knows about other’s four postures insight, as this manner.
- “Samudayadhammanupassi wa kayasmin viharati.” He concentrates that how is the arising happening of name based bodily postures. That means with the arisen of the air of functional consciousness, four postures also arise. He wisdom knows about this.
- “Vayadhammanupassi wa kayasmin viharati.” He concentrates about cessation of the four postures. If there is no air of the functional consciousness, there is no postures. He wisdom knows this.
- “Samudaya wayadhammanupassi wa kaysmin viharati.” He concentrates about both arisen and the cessation of the four postures.
- “Atthikayoti wa panassa sati paccupatthito hoti.” He is in the insight that, Postures are appeared. And the air of functional consciousness (Ciitta kiriya wayo dhatu), is appeared only. Not I, not mine or not anyone or not any one’s.
- “Anissito ca viharati.” He knows that, thoughts which “My”, “I want” are the Craving. There is no person called “I”, no being, no any person or no other animal.” This is how concentrate about, selfness nature and, it leads one to refrain from craving.
- “Na ca kinci loke upadiyati.” He doesn’t attach with the thought of “Mine or Me”. He refrains from craving. If one hasn’t concentrate well, he accepts the self-nature as “Mine or Me”. When exactly practice posture meditation, he can conquer the thought which he had before, that self-nature as me and mine. He definitely understands about impermanence and the suffering around him.
With the realization of the impermanence and the suffering of the named bases, one ceases the craving grasping. With the realization of the selfless nature, he ceases the eye grasping.
If one accepts the name based four posture as “postures”, it is the truth of “the suffering” in the four noble truths. The very first craving (thought of my and mine) is the cause. It is the “the cause for the suffering” in the four noble truths. The nonexistence or non-arisen of the these two is the “cessation of the Suffering” as four noble truths. The realization about suffering, the cessation of the craving and steps to the path which aimed to cessation is the “path leading to cessation of the suffering” in four noble truths. This is how one can develop insights as posture meditation. This is the way of boundless happiness and the way to purity. So it is clear the aim Vipassana meditation.
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"one is not become wise because he speaks too much. he who is pleasant, friendly and fearless is called wise"