The Seven-Point Mediation Posture of Vairochana

The seven-point meditation posture of Vairochana [va ro’ chana’] is a recommended traditional sitting posture for meditation, particularly within Tibetan Buddhism.  The description of the seven points below is an ideal or optimal posture, though it can be adjusted, depending upon each person’s physical capability.  The main purpose of the various postural points is to foster a calm, attentive mind to enhance one’s meditation practice.


  1. Sit in a cross-legged position. The ideal is to sit in the full lotus position, which involves crossing the legs while sitting on the ground or a flat surface, with the top of each foot resting on the opposite thigh.  Next best is the half lotus, which is similar, though only one foot rests on the opposite thigh.  If that is not possible, another option is the conventional cross-legged position.  Sitting on a raised cushion may ease the strain on the legs and knees.  The knees can also be supported with a cushion or bolster.  People unable to sit in cross-legged position may sit on a chair while practicing the other points of the posture.  The main objective is to adopt a posture that fosters a calm and alert mind without causing discomfort that can detract from that state.


  1. Hands in the lap or on the knees. The hands should be placed in a restful position, either cupped together lightly in the lap, palms facing upwards, or resting palms downward on the knees or thighs.


  1. Spine straight. Keeping the spine naturally erect is perhaps the most important of the postural points.  Naturally erect means maintaining a poised, alert posture, neither rigid, nor slumped.  This posture enhances overall alertness during meditation practice and enables energy to move more freely through the body’s subtle energy channels.


  1. Shoulders spread. The shoulders should be spread slightly back (like the wings of a vulture), not slumping forward.  Again, this helps to foster an alert, attentive mind, rather than one that is distracted or dull.


  1. Head and neck erect. This point is an extension of the principle of keeping the spine erect.  Note that the chin should be tucked slightly down toward the neck, rather than jutting forward.


  1. Tongue on the palate. As our mind and body both relax in meditation practice, increased saliva can be generated, causing us to swallow more frequently, which is another distraction to meditation.  Touching the tip of the tongue to the palate just behind the front teeth reduces the saliva flow and the distraction that goes with it.


  1. Relaxed, neutral gaze. Meditating with the eyes open is preferred, as trying to meditate with closed eyes can promote drowsiness or a wandering mind.  One’s gaze should be directed slightly downward, following the bridge of the nose, and without any fixated object of focus.  Eye movements left or right should be avoided; however, the gaze may be raised or lowered, depending on one’s mental activity level.  If the mind is overly active, adjust the gaze more downward; if the mind is dull or sleepy, raising the gaze tends to counteract that condition.