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Meditation: Just for Able Bodies?

If you or someone you know has a physical condition that makes it difficult to sit upright and cross-legged, there’s still plenty of hope. You can meditate while sitting in a wide variety of ways:

  • You can sit in a chair, or at the edge of a bed.
  • You can also try using a meditation chair for back support, or lean against a wall.
  • You could try sitting in a kneeling position using a meditation bench and a zabuton to keep pressure off your knees and bring comfort to your shins (see our photo below).

What if sitting or kneeling meditation just isn’t for you?

meditation chair for back support

No worries – you can always do a walking meditation. Even if you can’t sit or walk, you haven’t lost any opportunity to meditate. It might sound cheesy, but the truth is that everything can be a meditation. In fact, ideally it is.

Sitting and walking meditation isn’t an end in itself; it’s a practice for bringing more self-awareness into everything you do. Clearly there are many excellent methods for bringing your awareness into the present moment, but the idea is that we bring this increased sense of alertness into the rest of our lives. If the practice remains isolated to the times we consider ourselves to be formally meditating, the purpose is lost.

Far more powerful is the practice of becoming more self-aware in the midst of our daily activities. Just because you don’t regularly adopt certain physical postures doesn’t mean you’re not able to meditate.

If you work on becoming more aware of your thoughts, breath, emotions, or the sensations in your body in the midst of your regular activities, you’re practicing meditation. Doing dishes is a classical example of a quiet, repetitive action that lends itself to a meditative awareness. Running, with its repetitive flow, is also famously conducive to such self-awareness. But washing your hands, bicycling, riding the bus, sitting at your desk, anything you can think of offers you the opportunity to become aware of what’s going on inside you.

Ultimately, sitting meditation is a training for bringing that same level of self-awareness into everything you do. You can work with life in any given moment, no matter your physical limitations.

The beauty of meditation is that no matter what your physical condition, it can always be done!

Che Nolan is a propologist with a major in bolsterology and an Iyengar yoga practitioner with a daily meditation practice. He is also a writer and a regular Halfmoon contributor.