The Lotus Myth

It is completely unnecessary to assume the famous lotus position to fully experience deep mindfulness meditation.

Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist practitioners have used the lotus position in meditation for centuries. They often claim that it’s necessary in order to maintain a steady position for long periods of time. That creates two problems. First, you can maintain an equally “steady position” in a comfy chair (my preferred position). Second, meditating for long periods of time isn’t necessary to achieve the benefits of deep mindfulness meditation. Time is an important commodity in the modern world. When the lotus position was invented people had a surplus of time (and a scarcity of comfy chairs).

Other beneficial claims have to do with muscle tension and breathing, which seem to be more the domain of practices with an emphasis on physical benefits like yoga. If you are into yoga for those benefits, great.

More dubious claims include redirection of blood to the abdomen to improve digestion. I haven’t seen any evidence to support that.

Lotus proponents also believe that sitting in this pretzel position will cause good thoughts to penetrate the mind and feelings of anger and lust to disappear. In my opinion they are simply attributing a physical cause to the mental experience of meditation.

Many people in the modern world don’t have the body type or flexibility to assume the lotus position. That’s no reason to be discouraged from meditation. Most people have access to a comfy chair, which works just as well.

(Pictured is Lahiri Mahasaya, Yogi and Guru from India.)

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