Sitting with Hara
Hara is that state in which the individual has found his primal center. When we speak of the state of an individual we mean something that concerns him in his entirety, that is, something that transcends the duality of body and soul.
Where is the center of the body? In the region of the navel, or, to be precise, a little below the navel. That the physical center of gravity of a man who has found his equilibrium should be located in his belly sounds strange to Western ears.
What is meant by “sitting” with Hara is best understood by those who can ride. One rides with Hara. Only with Hara does that flexible and yet firm, relaxed posture which keeps the rider balanced, and which gives him that unforced control over his horse, release that “action in non-action” to which the horse willingly submits.
Hara in sitting then means, as in standing or walking, a power of inner directedness brought about only because and in so far as all self-will has been eliminated and which permits the appearance of an outer form that is not made but has grown organically from within.
In right sitting as well as in right standing the shoulders are relaxed. Only in the released belly is that slight tension preserved which gives strength to the whole trunk. In the Hara-seat the aspirant feels the center which keeps him in form, perhaps even more clearly than while standing. He is not rigidly anchored in it but swings constantly and lightly around it.
The practice of right sitting is not necessarily confined to certain fixed times and conditions. Only one thing is important, the knees should not be higher than the hip-bones. With raised knees it is impossible for strength from the vital center to flow in.
Let the aspirant root himself in Hara and the ego tension will be dissolved, and with no over-susceptibility he will be receptive to whatever may come his way.
It is an astonishing thing to see how tensions can be wiped out at one stroke if the sufferer simply dares to let himself drop down into his vital abdominal center and to yield to it, especially if he can be brave enough to admit that he cannot free himself from his suffering by his own efforts.
Practice of the sitting posture should not be limited to certain hours but shoudl be maintained whenever the aspirant sits down. The exercise of sitting is the most fundamental of all. Here the practice of stillness has its source. A thousand secrets are hidden in simply sitting still.
Adapted from Hara, The Vital Center of Man, by Kalfried Graf Durckheim (Inner traditions, 2004).