Author Topic: Meditating laying down?  (Read 5861 times)

TryptamineFiend420

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Meditating laying down?
« on: February 17, 2013, 12:56:15 AM »
Sorry if this thread has already been posted, but I was not able to find it using the search feature.

Anyway, I've realized that one of my biggest hindrances in meditation right now, is physical discomfort when sitting.  I usually sit cross-legged, with a pillow under me so that I am slightly elevated.  I am not flexible enough for full lotus position, but usually sit in either half-lotus of traditional cross-legged style.  I make sure to keep my spine straight and my head balanced.  However, after a few minutes, either my back, shoulder, or neck (or all 3) starts to get stiff and sore from sitting so still in that position, and I will suddenly feel a strong urge to move.  When I do move, I get cracking.  This has improved slightly with yoga practice and weight-training, because I have strengthened my muscles, and will continue to do so.  In the mean time though, this physical soreness and stiffness I get is such a hindrance to my meditation, that I oftentimes end up laying down and doing it.  Is there any reason you guys know of that meditating laying down could be a problem?

Mpgkona

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Re: Meditating laying down?
« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2013, 01:19:05 AM »
In my own experience i have had two major problems laying down: 1) sleepiness and 2) I have found it more difficult to scan for sensations when more than half my body is relaxed and comfortable on a bed or couch. But this again is in my experience. Others are probably different.

Tryptamine: i have a personal question and I wont be offended if you dont answer. How old are you? Just wondering, especially because of all yor recent LSD posts. It will help me to hopefully give you guidance in your other thread. Also, how much experience do you have with meditation? Have you ever taken any type of course or gone on a retreat? Thanks!!
When you change the way you look at things the things you look at change.

TryptamineFiend420

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Re: Meditating laying down?
« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2013, 01:35:24 AM »
Thanks for the response.  I too find that I fall asleep if I meditate laying down late at night.  I try to only do it in the morning or early afternoon.  I never really thought about scanning for sensations during meditation.  I will try this.  Perhaps I need to experiment with sitting on something firmer or at a different height to avoid the discomfort in my body.  Do you ever experience unbearable discomfort or stiffness when sitting in meditation?  If so, how do you get past it?

Oh and to answer your question I'm 23 years old.  I have about a year of meditation practice under my belt, but I'd say it's been only in the last 2 months or so that I've been doing it right.  Not that there's one correct method, but at first I was trying too hard, and fiercely trying to concentrate while meditating.  Only more recently have I realized that I have better results when I just observe my breath going in and out, in a relaxed manner.  I've never gone on a retreat or taken an actual course in person, but I have listened to some guided meditation audio tracks with headphones, and listened to some people such as Ram Dass, Eckhardt Tolle, and Deepak Chopra talk about meditation.  I've gained a better understanding of it hearing these people talk.

Vivek

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Re: Meditating laying down?
« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2013, 01:55:43 AM »
Physical discomfort during prolonged sitting meditation is unavoidable. The only way to get past it, is through it. But that doesn't mean one ought to make it an endurance test. Being aware and equanimous, one must keep on observing it. Failure is natural but persistence pays. Lying meditation does help, but IMO it is not very helpful to make it the major posture for daily practice.
Let's go beyond this illusion, shall we?

redalert

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Re: Meditating laying down?
« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2013, 02:25:13 AM »
Playing games with sensations is something we must train not to do. The habit pattern of the mind we are to change is to crave pleasant sensations and aversion to unpleasant sensations. this is what I fear you may be confusing with your posts in the LSD thread. You seem to equate these subtle pleasant states as "meditation". This is what I would like to clarify, meditation is about remaining present and developing equiminity with this moment as it is, not as we would like it to be. But we also are not to torture ouselves in the mean time. Its a rocky path.

We should practice meditation in a comfortable position to begin with, it's not necessary to sit in lotus or half lotus position, you can sit in a chair just keep your back straight. If we run from the unpleasant and meditate lying down as a way to avoid these unpleasantries, we are playing a game with sensations. Sit with your back straight as much as possible, if there is overwhelming discomfort then adjust your posture as necessary. As you progress this posture pain should decrease. If you are meditating for hours and hours a day then it is fine to meditate lying down while resting, also we should try to spend some time meditating in this position before we fall a sleep at night and when we wake up in the morning.

What technique of meditation are you practicing at this moment as each technique has slightly different methods for dealing with pain? When I began practicing I used a noting technique, when the discomfort would begin to arise I would mentally note discomfort discomfort discomfort or pain pain pain and when it subsided I would return to the breath. Now I use a different technique where I bring my awareness to the discomfort and penetrate it, disecting it, studying it, really looking at it. When you have success with this you will notice some interesting insights into pain and it will no longer be able to overwhelm you.

Understand that I'm not ragging on you, or picking on your lifestyle, I'm just trying to offer helpful advice as another fellow on this path.

much metta

TryptamineFiend420

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Re: Meditating laying down?
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2013, 02:55:45 AM »
^Thanks for the advice.  The technique I'm currently using is just sitting with my eyes closed, and observing my breath.  Whenever a thought arises, instead of pursuing that thought, I just bring my attention back to my breath.  I try my best not to push the thought away, and also not to follow the thought, both of which are a real challenge.  Also when meditating on my breath, I don't try to control my breath at all, I just let it do it's thing naturally while I just passively observe each breath in and breath out.  Sometimes I may focus on the feeling of my stomach going up and down as I breathe.

When you use the noting technique you mentioned, do you find that noting the discomfort or pain eventually relieves it?  I understand and appreciate the concept of bringing awareness to the pain as a way of transcending it, but do you find that the pain does eventually subside?  Or does it persist and you just have to learn to accept it?  My main concern isn't too much with the unpleasant experience of the pain or discomfort, but in the risk of injury or misalignment, or perhaps even long term damage like scoliosis from staying in such a position for a long time.  I guess that isn't really a concern though unless I'm sitting for hours.  Currently, my meditations are about 15 minutes long at the most, and usually about 2 or 3 of those per day.  That about all my ADD mind can handle before trailing off on thoughts or becoming anxious about things I need to get done lol.

I totally understand that you're not naggin on me or my lifestyle and I appreciate your advice wholeheartedly.  Sorry if I came off as arrogant in the LSD thread.  I just wanted to be sure you and other readers fully understood my experiences with it.

redalert

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Re: Meditating laying down?
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2013, 01:18:47 PM »
The technique I'm currently using is just sitting with my eyes closed, and observing my breath.  Whenever a thought arises, instead of pursuing that thought, I just bring my attention back to my breath.  I try my best not to push the thought away, and also not to follow the thought, both of which are a real challenge.  Also when meditating on my breath, I don't try to control my breath at all, I just let it do it's thing naturally while I just passively observe each breath in and breath out.  Sometimes I may focus on the feeling of my stomach going up and down as I breathe.

It may also be beneficial to pay attention to which nostril the breath is entering and exiting see if you can locate a point of contact where the breath touches between the upper lip and the base of the nostrils. The smaller the area of awareness the sharper and more penetrative the mind will become. You may just be aware the breath is coming in the right nostril or left nostril or both, notice if it is a long breath or a short breath. Just remember there is no right way to breath just become aware of this process and begin to investigate it.

When you use the noting technique you mentioned, do you find that noting the discomfort or pain eventually relieves it?  I understand and appreciate the concept of bringing awareness to the pain as a way of transcending it, but do you find that the pain does eventually subside?  Or does it persist and you just have to learn to accept it?

Pain is a very surface(gross) phenomenon there are many techniques that have been developed to sharpen the mind(increase ones concentration),the noting technique is just one, the important thing is to gain insight into this mind matter phenomenon, this insight is liberative. All phenomenon have the nature of impermanence they arise to eventually pass away.  Because of our old habit pattern of aversion to unpleasant sensations we multiply our misery, we increase the volume level of this unpleasant sensation creating much misery. In the same way when we experience pleasant sensations we crave them, which increases the volume of these pleasant sensations. But because of the impermanent nature of these pleasant phenomenon they eventually pass away and we develope aversion again and begin to suffer.


  My main concern isn't too much with the unpleasant experience of the pain or discomfort, but in the risk of injury or misalignment, or perhaps even long term damage like scoliosis from staying in such a position for a long time.  I guess that isn't really a concern though unless I'm sitting for hours.  Currently, my meditations are about 15 minutes long at the most, and usually about 2 or 3 of those per day.  That about all my ADD mind can handle before trailing off on thoughts or becoming anxious about things I need to get done lol.

This is a very old practice if it was unhealthy to sit on the floor it would have been abandoned long ago, no harm will come to you if your legs fall asleep during meditation don't worry, it happens to me all the time, just don't get up while they are asleep let the feeling come back before standing. Experiment with this, sit until there is numbness and then observe the sensation of the feeling coming back to your legs. When meditating and you feel these sensations approaching just observe them closely, follow them, are they in my foot? are they in my leg? are they in my knee? Does the pain just arise and overwhelm you? or does it start as a cold ocillating sensation in the foot or knee and eventually begin to solidify into throbbing pulses and eventually an overwhelming sharp pain? Is it always overwhelming or can you sit and observe it for longer and longer periods of time? If you don't panic does the pain still get worse or does it slowly subside? Observe an itch instead of scratching it, really study it, is it really that bad what does it feel like? eventually you may find them quite pleasant like a little friend who has come to visit during your meditation. See if any of this helps in your daily sitting, it really is a facinating process to observe, slowly increase the time you spend sitting from fifteen mins to twenty to twenty five etc.. but don't torture yourself if the pain is overwhelming change posture and observe it as you do this.

DarkNightOfNoSoul

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Re: Meditating laying down?
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2013, 06:52:31 PM »
I understand and appreciate the concept of bringing awareness to the pain as a way of transcending it, but do you find that the pain does eventually subside?  Or does it persist and you just have to learn to accept it?  My main concern isn't too much with the unpleasant experience of the pain or discomfort, but in the risk of injury or misalignment, or perhaps even long term damage like scoliosis from staying in such a position for a long time. 

I think this worry comes up for most people at some point. I don't think it's too much of a concern unless you already have a diagnosed medical condition or back problem, in which case you should use a chair or some sort of back support. Lying down usually leads to sleep, at least in my experience. Maybe very experienced meditators can maintain awareness lying down.

Regarding the pain, as others have hinted here, the pain is actually quite an important part of the process - it's about developing awareness of and equanimity to both pleasure and pain. I think this is why you should attend a retreat, there's a process of insight that occurs regarding the pain, but it comes only with a deep level of concentration. Maybe it's better to discover it for yourself - in which case, don't read the next paragraph!

For me, on my first retreat I spent a few days worrying and fretting about the pain and thinking I was doing permanent damage, until one day I realised that the instant I stood up at the end of a meditation sitting, the pain was gone. So was it actually real pain, or was it something largely generated by my mind? Then I noticed while sitting that the pain would sometimes move around my back, so it wasn't confined to any specific muscles or spinal nerves. The more I started to just observe the pain as part of body scanning (rather than fretting and fidgeting around), the less the discomfort. I'm not sure if it actually went away, but the effect was the same. I think the way I reacted to it was different, so it no longer felt like pain, more like a tightness. It became just another sensation, and it no longer worried me and eventually I didn't notice it.

But I have to admit, for my daily meditation I often sit against a wall or the bed frame with a rolled up pillow tucked under the small of my back!  :) Personally I can't get to a deep enough level of concentration to observe any pain with equanimity during a 20-40 minute sit. Maybe one day.

Vivek

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Re: Meditating laying down?
« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2013, 07:29:11 PM »
This is a very useful video on the various postures we can use for meditation practice: http://www.vipassanaforum.net/forum/index.php/topic,2047.0.html

Sitting on a chair and meditating is also useful, but there some things to be understood before doing that. The teacher in the video clearly explains the prerequisites for this.
Let's go beyond this illusion, shall we?

dunaverde

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Re: Meditating laying down?
« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2013, 11:58:28 AM »
Now I use a different technique where I bring my awareness to the discomfort and penetrate it, disecting it, studying it, really looking at it. When you have success with this you will notice some interesting insights into pain and it will no longer be able to overwhelm you.

Could you elaborate on that? I keep hearing the word 'disect' applied to emotions but to be honest I just fear that if I try it (and in fact when I have tried it) I might get too discursive and hence begin thinking about the emotion rather than feeling it -as if creating things that weren't there or adding elements to a more simple phenomenon.

In summary: how do you actually approach an emotion or sensation?

First post btw  ;D This community is great.

Dharmic Tui

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Re: Meditating laying down?
« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2013, 01:12:58 PM »
To approach it you view it without engaging or trying to interpret it using thoughts . I have found through practice that sometimes I will feel anxious or whatever first,  then tried to fill in the blanks with some sort of wacky thought which makes me feel more anxious. Likewise with pleasant sensations ,  if you go overthinking them you can chase them away.

Put simply you want to just be observing the feelings as a sensation, how they arise and feel in the body, and not as so something that needs something arbitrary like "meaning" applied to it.

redalert

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Re: Meditating laying down?
« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2013, 08:35:45 PM »

Could you elaborate on that?

If you sit and your feeling comfortable this does not last eventually this changes to uncomfortableness, watch the aparent pleasant sensations turn into aparent unpleasant sensations as I described earlier in this thread as when a limb begins to fall asleep. It does not happen immediately it is a gradual process. Now try and observe this process in reverse as the feeling comes back into the limb. if you can penetrate into the very gross painful sensation where everything feels solidified, and look around you will find that much is going on in there, there is pulsing and stretching and heat and tingling etc etc etc, if you can look closly enough there is nothing but wavelets and bubbles. On the surface there is pain but when you disect pain there is so many individual parts that make up this pain. With strong samadhi one will not be overwhelmed by pain as they can see it on very subtle levels.

Hope this answers your question, and welcome to the forum.

windaub

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Re: Meditating laying down?
« Reply #12 on: May 09, 2013, 01:44:59 AM »
In my 10 days course, I had an important understanding about pain. I understood that my aversion about pain could intensify it. I had a big pain in my knee after sitting without moving for 20-30minutes. And I the 4th day I think, I finally succeed to look at this pain without judging it, without aversion. And just feeling the pure sensation, I realised it wasn't a pain, it was just a sensation, because a pain is a sensation plus a thought saying 'Oh it hurts', I don't know if I make myself clear. If you just feel the sensation without telling yourself that it is or pain, or that it hurts, just the sensation with no thought, the pain won't be a pain anymore.
When you generate aversion for a sensation, it tenses the part of your body where you feel this sensation, and tensing it, the pain is getting much stronger, it is an endless loop.
But if you break the loop, by stopping telling yourself that you are in pain, this part of your body will relax and the pain will decrease, and eventually disappear.
Thats what happened with my knee and it took me some time to realise what happened and put words on it, at the begining it looked like pure magic "I'm equanimous, the pain disappear" !
I'm not saying all pains will disappear like this, I can't tell that from my experience, I'm just exposing one of my experiences.

 

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