Can You Meditate Lying Down?

October 16, 2020

Can You Meditate Lying Down?

Meditation is a form of sustained concentration. 

It’s a portal where you can slow down time and ask yourself big existential questions: Who am I? What is my purpose in life? What is life?

Because meditation does not have any physical limitations, you can do it anywhere and in any position.

But one question we see being asked more and more online is whether or not you can meditate lying down.

Is It OK to Meditate While Lying on Your Back?

Absolutely! There are no risks to meditating while lying on your back.

Some people find that lying down allows them to better connect with their body and spirit, while others prefer to stand or sit.

Sometimes people worry about positions because they perceive meditation as a technique that needs to be performed correctly for optimal benefit. This mindset is understandable, but it misses the point of the practice. 

Meditation is not like pilates or dance. Obsessing over physical routines and repetition might not help you. This perception could hinder the mental exploration meditation is supposed to facilitate.

To experiment with different positions and see what works best for your mind and body, try these steps:

  1. Think of an issue you’re dealing with.
  2. Assess how this issue affects your mind and body. Do you feel stressed? Sad? Happy?
  3. As you breathe and continue to concentrate, try lying on your back.
  4. Now, how does that issue make you feel?
  5. Try standing up and ask yourself the same question.
  6. Now try sitting. Repeat the question.
  7. Try lying on your back one last time. Repeat the question.
  8. Repeat this cycle, but with lying down in different ways: left side, right side and stomach.

Ruminate on whether those positions made a difference. It’s OK if they didn’t. If, however, you felt significantly better while lying on your back, that could be the position for you.

Are There Any Benefits to Meditating While Lying Down?

Despite most people choosing to meditate while standing or sitting, there can be benefits to meditating while lying down for some people.

Help With Body Scan Meditation

For some people, meditating while lying down can make it easier to practice methods such as a body scan, the process of focusing on one part of your body at a time. Most practitioners recommend starting at the feet and gradually moving to the head. The goal is usually to identify and relieve sources of bodily tension.

It’s possible that lying down better facilitates this method because the position distributes your weight evenly on the ground and doesn’t require any physical exertion. When you sit or stand, you might be focusing a bit more on posture, and there is the mild effort of keeping your body upright.

During this process, you might experience some pain. Don’t worry, though. Meditation is a method for approaching and soothing our pain, rather than avoiding it.

Improved Sleep

Because we lie down to sleep, it’s natural to associate sleep and meditating while lying down. According to a Sleep Research Society study of 54 adults with chronic insomnia, mindfulness meditation can improve sleep quality and increase duration. The study participants regularly practiced several types of mindfulness meditation, including the aforementioned body scan.

Meditating during the day will most likely help you fall asleep faster, even if you don’t meditate immediately before sleeping. It’s also common for people to meditate when they are having trouble falling asleep.

If you want to meditate specifically to fall asleep, that’s OK. Remember, however, that you’ll be unconscious, so you won’t be able to gain insight.

How to Meditate While Lying Down

As we mentioned before, there isn’t some standard technique you have to practice. Meditation is an idiosyncratic journey. It can be whatever works for you.

Nonetheless, we can offer some instruction for people who feel they need structure and guidance to get started. The first step is to decide how you want to lie down. Did you feel the most sensation while on your stomach? On your back? On your left or right side?

If you have gastrointestinal issues, for example, lying on your stomach could allow you to more efficiently engage with that discomfort. Or perhaps there is a side of your body that feels out of balance. Feel free to switch positions.

Any sort of slow, deliberate breathing should help you concentrate. There are all kinds of recommendations on exactly on how many seconds you should breathe in or out. As with the issue of positioning, you can experiment with timing and see what feels best.

Now ruminate on what you want to explore during your meditation. Is it a challenge in your life? Do you want to learn more about yourself?

Or is there a bodily concern you have? In this case the body scan might be a good starting point.

When you feel like taking a break, reflect on what you’ve learned. The rest of the journey will be patiently waiting for you.