Brahmavihara Dhamma

Part I, by Ven, Mahasi Sayadaw

(5) Meditating by Taking Up All Four Iriyapathas or Postures

Meditation can be done while walking, or standing, or sitting, or lying down, which are the four usual postures. It is clearly evident that meditation exercise can be made by adopting any one of the four postures as stated in the Metta Sutta in the following words:

“Tittham caram nisinno va, sayano yavatassa vigatamiddho etam satim adhittheyya.”

The meaning of this Pali phrase is:

Tittham – either in the act of standing, caram – or in the act of walking, nisinno va – or while sitting, sayano – or while lying down, yavata – for the duration of that period, vigatamiddho – the mind will be free from sloth or sleepiness, assa – and it will so happen. Yavata – for that particular length, of time, etam satim – this practice of mindfulness which arises along with loving-kindness, adhittheyya – should be developed by fixing the mind upon it and letting oneself remain in this state of mind.

It has been clearly instructed to contemplate and note by way of assuming the four usual postures not only in respect of metta bhavana, but also in regard to practising satipatthana vipassana relating to which it has been preached as gacchanto va gacchamiti pajanati “,etc.

Hence, although instructions have been given to take up a sitting posture cross-legged at the initial stage of meditation, all of the four iriyapathas or postures can be adopted as may be considered appropriate in developing metta bhavana, i.e., meditation to cultivate mindfulness on loving kindness. The essential point is to develop contemplation on loving-kindness on all occasions or rather continuously, leaving aside about four hours at the time of midnight or six hours time for sleep. When going to bed at about 9 or 10 p.m. while lying in bed before falling asleep, it should be so developed.