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Bernie Schreck

What is meant by the “inner posture” in meditation?

The teachings on the posture in meditation not only give instructions about our physical posture, but also include advice on our inner posture. There is a reason for this. In meditation, openness of both our body and mind and heart are very important.

I have found it very helpful for my practice to reflect on what is really meant by “inner posture”. In the teachings, this aspect of the posture is often described as the posture of our mind. Why? Because it is about our attitude. It is about how we look at ourselves, both our true nature and our relative condition. Another way of explaining the inner posture is that it is the feeling and atmosphere with which we practice.

 

I found a very helpful description of this inner posture in a small booklet with “Essential Advice on the Practice of Meditation”, which Sogyal Rinpochepublished in 1987:

 

“Firstly, when you begin a meditation session it is important to check your posture. By posture we mean physical and mental posture.

The mental posture is a frame of mind; an attitude; a gesture; a prayer; a homage; an offering; an opening. This gesture of the mind is like the blossoming of a flower. It is the smile of your enlightened mind or heart, the discovery of your sun like inner compassion, and joy.”

I very much like the image of a flower opening and especially thinking of myself as a flower opening to my enlightened nature. For me, the image of a flower opening brings a nice sense of curiosity, gentleness and beauty. What is a flower opening to? The sunlight and the sky! But also, equally, the rain! This reminds me that in meditation we try to open ourselves to a genuine experience of ourselves and the world.

Sometimes the world will be sunny with a clear blue sky. And sometimes the world will be rainy, windy, cold or clouded. But every day there is daylight and a space out of which the world can unfold. In the same way, regardless of whether my mind is peaceful or agitated, there is always awareness and an openness in which these experiences can unfold. If I get attached to the sunny days, I will have a problem when the weather changes. So it is much better to get “attached” to the daylight and space because these qualities are always there. I put attached in quotation marks because with these qualities there isn’t really anything to get attached to. Space and daylight are just qualities which allow any kind of experience. Meditation practice is about becoming familiar with the openness and awareness that is always present in our mind. If we do that, then the inevitable ups and downs in our practice will be less of a problem.

How do you relate to the inner posture in meditation? I am curious to hear about your understanding and inspiration on this topic. Please share your thoughts in the comments.