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Regulating the Body by Sitting

To regulate the body by sitting, one should observe the Vairocana Seven-Points of Sitting(毘盧遮那七支坐法). This refers to the seven rules of correct sitting posture. Each of these criteria has been used unchanged since ancient days.

Point One: The Legs

Sit on the floor with legs crossed either in the Full Lotus or Half Lotus position. To make the Full Lotus, put the right foot on the left thigh, then put the left foot crossed over the right leg onto the right thigh. To reverse the direction of the feet is also acceptable.


To take the Half Lotus position requires that one foot be crossed over onto the thigh of the other. The other foot will be placed underneath the raised leg.


The Full or Half Lotus are the correct tso-ch'an postures according to the seven-point method. However, we will describe some alternative postures since for various reasons, people may not always be able to sit in the Full or Half Lotus.


A position, called the Burmese position, is similar to the Half Lotus, except that one foot is crossed over onto the calf, rather than the thigh, of the other leg. Another position consists in kneeling. In this position, kneel with the legs together. The upper part of the body can be erect from knee to head, or the buttocks can be resting on the heels.


If physical problems prevent sitting in any of the above positions, then sitting on a chair is possible, but as a last resort to the above postures.


The positions above are given in the preferred order, the Full Lotus being the most stable, and most conducive to good results. Sitting cross-legged is most conducive to sitting long periods with effective concentration. The position one can take depends on factors such as physical condition, health, and age. However, one should use the position in which prolonged sitting (at least twenty minutes or more) is feasible and reasonably comfortable. However, do not use a position that requires little, or the least effort, because without significant effort, no good results can be attained.


If sitting on the floor, sit on a Japanese-style zafu (round meditation cushion) or an improvised cushion, several inches thick. This is partly for comfort, but also because it is easier to maintain an erect spine if the buttocks are slightly raised. Place a larger, square pad, such as a Japanese zabuton, underneath the cushion. Sit with the buttocks towards the front half of the cushion, the knees resting on the pad.

Point Two: The Spine

The spine must be upright. This does not mean to thrust your chest forward, but rather to make sure that your lower back is erect, not just slumped. The chin must be tucked in a little bit. Both of these points together cause you to naturally maintain a very upright spine. An upright spine also means a vertical spine, leaning neither forward or backward, right or left.

Point Three: The Hands

The hands form a so-called Dharma Realm Samadhi Mudra 法界定印. The open right palm is underneath, and the open left palm rests in the right palm. The thumbs lightly touch to form a closed circle or oval. The hands are placed in front of the abdomen, and rest on the legs.

Point Four: The Shoulders

Let the shoulders be relaxed, the arms hanging loosely. There should be no sense of your shoulders, arms or hands. If you have any sensation of these parts, there is probably tension in those areas.

Point Five: The Tongue

The tip of the tongue should be lightly touching the roof of the mouth just behind the front teeth. If you have too much saliva, you can let go of this connection. If you have no saliva at all, you can apply greater pressure with the tip of the tongue.

Point Six: The Mouth

The mouth must always be closed. At all times, breath through the nose, not through the mouth.

Point Seven: The Eyes

The eyes should be slightly open and gazing downward at a forty-five degree angle. Rest the eyes in that direction, trying not to stare at anything. Closing the eyes may cause drowsiness, or visual illusions. However, if your eyes feel very tired you can close them for a short while.



 --TSO-CH'AN p. 0008-0011


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