Classic sitting meditation is a vital part of all meditation traditions and has taken many forms, some more effective than others. Some traditional approaches demand that the student sit motionless for hours on end, as if becoming a frozen human statue is the key to enlightenment. A more scientific approach does not make the human body our enemy, but rather works with our natural physiology to allow more intense meditation with less effort and discomfort.
Begin by finding a relatively quiet place to meditate where you will not be disturbed. All forms of classic sitting meditation should be done in silence with no background music. You can sit cross legged Asian style on a meditation pillow on the floor or use the Recliner Chair Method described below. Eyes may be fully open, half open, or slightly open, letting in just two small slits of light. Meditating with eyes fully closed is fine as long as the room remains brightly lit so that enough light passes through the eyelids to keep your brain alert. Meditating in a darkened room, however, presents fundamental physiological problems.
When you sit quietly with your eyes closed in darkness your brain interprets this situation as a signal to start shutting itself down for sleep. Sleep inducing hormones such as melatonin are released at the same time your circulation and heart rate are reduced due to lack of movement. You feel swept away on a sea of quiet relaxation. This pleasant experience may be light sleep state hypnosis, not meditation at all, and thus does you little more good than taking a nap. Meditation means that you are relaxed as if sleeping, but your consciousness is fully and intensely awake. Therefore, if you meditate with your eyes closed the room must remain very brightly lit so that a significant amount of light passes through the eyelids.