As a meditation newbie, I crave the clear, focused mind that sitting still can bring to one’s life. My head is all in, but my body isn’t. Sitting cross-legged, let alone in half-lotus is excruciating. (The thought of full lotus makes my hips, knees and back scream.) While I realize part of the practice is to simply notice a sensation—for instance, my knees feel so achy—then let it go, the physical pain in traditional meditation postures dominated my thoughts so intensely that I felt I was missing the point and getting no mental benefits. Post-meditation, all I could think about was how much relief my knees felt, so that’s something.
“Meditation is the process of being relaxed and aware at the time,” says Ventkat Srinivasan, Ph.D., the facility manager and teacher at the Art of Living Retreat Center in Boone, North Carolina. “In order to facilitate that state you have to be relatively comfortable.”
Related: Don’t Think Meditation Works? Keep Meditating
Eventually, I found my comfort lying on a large foam roller. The roller supports the length of my spine and head, and is tippy enough that dozing off isn’t an option. There are myriad other alternative meditation positions, like these five options recommended by experts. Test drive them all and see which one works best for you.
1. Chair Sitting
“A chair is an easy alternative to sitting on the floor,” says Srinivasan.