How I sit when I'm "sitting": It's a conceit, I know, but I sit in what is probably a very bad half lotus. Yes, I could sit in a chair, but I spend my working life in the armchair anyway, I like sitting on the floor, and I've never had any trouble sitting cross-legged. My legs aren't terribly flexible, but I've been working at the gym on hip flexibility, so the half lotus wasn't out of the question. It's still difficult--fortunately (after reading the following article) it's just tight on my hips, and I'm doing doing anything wrong with my knees.
From Alan Little comes a short series of posts on the lotus position: 1; 2; 3. The last includes a link to a column on exercise to achieve the lotus. I'll quote as Alan does:
To lift the leg into Ardha Padmasana (Half Lotus Pose), reach your right hand under your calf to grasp the outside of the right lower leg near the ankle. Flex the foot so that you can no longer see the sole, and slowly lift the leg up, rotating the shin and thigh outwards as you do so. Carefully place the ankle on the upper thigh near your groin, with the outer ball of the ankle joint supported by your thigh. Continue to draw the little toe of your right foot back towards your outer knee to prevent the rotation from coming at the ankle or knee. If you pull the leg up by grasping the top of the foot and allowing the foot to sickle, you will only overstretch the ligaments of your ankle and knee rather than opening your hip.
I don't think I'm trying this pose just for authenticity's sake. I'm quite happy to trust that it's better in the long term, and indeed I don't feel the need to shift around every few minutes as I do with a regular cross legged position. I settle into it happily, and maybe the slow change of my hips gaining flexibility will parallel that slow change of my mind.
Alan's yoga weblog is also worth a look. I know almost nothing about yoga, so it's pretty intriguing. I love reading about things I don't understand. You can pick up a lot just by seeing how the words are used and the language inflected.
He made a further point in email which I'd like to hear more about:
Christianity has a meditation tradition too - "contemplative prayer" - but in Christianity there's no guidance as to how to go about it beyond sit down, still your mind (how?) and be open to Grace/The Holy Spirit/Whatever. Unlike Christian saints who are expected to let it happen spontaneously, buddhist meditators and yogis have developed a whole range of effective techniques for helping it to happen.
Which makes me wonder, why is that guidance missing from Christianity... or is it not missing at all, and I'm just not looking in the right place?