It seems unlikely that the art of being could ever be associated with danger. After all what risk is there in doing nothing? Innocent as it might seem there are precautions that beginners should heed to prevent injury and mental disturbance.
Meditation is most effective when you commit to one type. Typically results are seen after three months of dedication. Commitment to a particular meditation is like commitment to a marriage, the intimacy of each session gradually increases.
Because different meditations offer different benefits after committing to one it’s fine to do others on the side sometimes, as long as you maintain a session every AM and PM with your primary practice.
The position you choose is what your practice will be built around. This will be your position for the next few months, years or even lifetime. Test the various positions before making a decision.
Two main ingredients of a meditation are physical position and state of mind. State of mind may be focusing on an object, repeating a mantra or mindfulness. Positions include standing, lying down on the side or back, cross-legged, walking, sitting and kneeling.
Variations of these positions number in the thousands and can make choosing quite confusing for the novice.
The safest position for the beginner is one that allows the soles of the feet to touch the ground. This narrows them down to sitting, standing and walking (barefooted).
The various cross-legged positions especially the lotus family present the greatest risk to the inexperienced. Only beginners with a background in yoga, or those with high flexibility should start with lotus and even then there are risks involved.
Cross-legged positions are very popular because they look esoterically appealing. The more difficult the position is the more mystical it seems. Nothing is abstruse about sitting and standing so many beginners are not attracted to these positions because they want to feel like they are doing something different. Despite their normality sitting and standing are very powerful and safe meditation positions. They are perfect for both the beginner and the experienced.
We absorb energy from the earth through the skin. It is safer to absorb earth energy through the soles of your feet and have it travel upwards as via this route the energy is properly filtered. Cross legged positions bypass this filtering system, causing faster movement of energy up the spine . Beginners are sometimes not able to handle this raw energy and can develop a number of physical and psychological problems. They may even become allergic to the energy. The position has also caused nerve damage to people who stay in it for long periods.
In eastern countries like India sitting cross-legged is common outside of meditation. Years of casual cross-legged sitting has the advantage of making lotus positions easier to master.
The beginner with ambitions of doing lotus should start by practicing sitting meditation to get the body accustomed to being still and receiving energy.
A Sitting Meditation
A sturdy wooden chair is perfect for sitting meditation but if one is not available use what you have.
Relax your body. Sit close to the edge with barefeet on the floor and hands in your lap. Keep the spine straight.
Close your eyes and look up to towards your eyebrows. Mouth stays closed and teeth are not touching.
On inhalation relax your stomach and let it expand with the breath. Allow the breath to travel upwards filling your ribs, chest and shoulders. Exhale, releasing the air from the chest, ribs and belly. At the end of each exhalation pull your navel in as if you want it to touch your spine. This will squeeze out all the air. The inhalation and exhalation should flow, being long, connected and continuous.
Use a gentle alarm to alert you when the session is over.