Author Topic: Choices in Meditation Postion  (Read 2019 times)

willvee

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Choices in Meditation Postion
« on: June 12, 2015, 02:49:23 AM »
I have practiced meditation over the years sitting in a straight-backed chair. My wife recently fractured a vertabrae in her spine and requires my help for certain movements. She wakes often during the night and I wake and get out of bed to help her to the bathroom and back to bed. By then I am wide awake.  I find I cannot return to sleep for a long period, on one occasion it was an hour. I have been using this opportunity to practice meditation; I maintain awareness of my breath as I lie there. This goes against the rule of sitting erect. Question: am I still not benefitting from the time spent in this quiet mode? I have read admonitions that meditation should not be practiced lying down as the person will tend to fall asleep. At two a.m. in the morning, I would welcome that!

Pacific Flow

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Re: Choices in Meditation Postion
« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2015, 03:22:48 AM »
It's a win-win situation for you, because the main reason one should sit with a straight back during meditation is the tendency to fall asleep when laying down.
So either you do finally fall asleep, which you wouldn't mind in the middle of the night, or you win the time for meditation.
Actually i find even if i don't sleep, as long as i am aware of body sensations or breath while laying in bed, and being equanimous while doing so, i get up in the morning as if i had a deep sleep.
It seems that resting the body while having your mind in "neutral" is basically as good as sleep.

willvee

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Re: Choices in Meditation Postion
« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2015, 04:17:24 AM »
What you say makes perfect sense. I congratulate you for your enlightened attitude. I suspected that the conditions I described would work, but I was afraid to talk about them lest I run against hard and fast rules on "acceptable" meditation. I too find that the practice of body awareness provides rest; worrying about the problems of yesterday and tomorrow do not.

bram

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Re: Choices in Meditation Postion
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2015, 05:19:31 AM »
I have heard somewhere that if you meditate all night, you don't need to sleep at all, and you will be more refreshed than through unconscious sleep. Unfortunately for me, I fall alseep at the drop of a hat so I can't put this to the test.

have you considered lucid dreaming or dream yoga?

VipassanaXYZ

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Re: Choices in Meditation Postion
« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2015, 07:22:03 AM »
I do it all the time, meditating till I fall asleep, and for a few moments before I open my eyes after "waking up".

Meditation can be/should be practised in all postures: sitting, standing, lying down.

I have heard having heart full of metta (loving kindness, equanimity, friendliness and compassion), helps to ease the tension. Doing anapana (watching the breath) is also very relaxing and helps bring calm. When waking up, come out of sleep gently, it will be easier to go back to sleep.

There is a story of a monk during Buddha's time. This old monk was passing through the forest alone. Robbers attacked him and left him tied to the ground with creepers. The monk was strong and could have easily uprooted the creepers, he remembered the monks rule (something related to not uprooting plants or something, a minor rule)and decided to meditate in that position itself and attained nibbana. He must have worked hard in previous lives, and this life as well, to be able to do this. Just an example of how awareness can be bright and strong in any posture.

Also, in my experience, awareness is a calm, gentle, subtle phenomenon. Lighter than sleep.
In the thick waters rife with debris, it is a stream of clean fresh water, a light clean current.

Awareness with knowledge of sensations and equanimity towards it is called "sampajjana" in Pali language. Sampajjana should be practised when walking, eating, sitting, even defecating - thats how serious old practitioners practise all the time, moment to moment.

It is not tiring to do this if you get the tuning right.

This weekend, my shoulders were bent a bit because of sitting all week on a desk and next to no exercise (except for housework, and cycling to work). Anapana opened up the spine soo deeply.

PS: Sitting with spine straight is the posture best for keeping the awareness bright and subtle without falling asleep.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2015, 07:54:01 AM by poojavassa »

Matthew

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Re: Choices in Meditation Postion
« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2015, 04:01:36 AM »
Hello willvee,

Welcome to the forum. Both Pacific Flow with his "win-win" description and Poojavassa with her extensive knowledge and insight have provided you with useful help.

There is little I would add yet there is something: you have been meditating in the "corpse" posture - a perfectly acceptable way to practice. Indeed due to spinal issues it is the only way I can formally practice at the current time. It is nothing to be admonished for and you being "afraid" to raise the issue for fear of admonishment says more about the very unenlightened state of most Buddhist/meditation teaching in the world today than anything related to you or your practice.

There is sitting, standing, walking and reclining meditation and all are valid and all are useful.

This community is not rule-bound by having a teacher or lineage within which you must sit in a particular way. The only rules we have are about not selling snake-oil (well, not selling anything!).

Generally the corpse posture is better practiced laying on a rug on the floor unless you have a particularly firm mattress yet in your circumstances this is not an issue. It is also more productive than sitting in a chair - if you use the back of your chair to support your spine.

I wish your wife a good recovery from her injury.

Warmly,

Matthew

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willvee

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Re: Choices in Meditation Postion
« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2015, 03:48:33 AM »
Hello to all my respondents,

   I thank you all for your complete, insightful, and prompt replies. Thank you, Pacific Flow, bram, poojavassa, and Matthew. The answers may be common knowledge to many, but truthfully, I have never run across suggestions for a prone position for meditation, and I consider myself well-read. Everyone was kind enough to NOT ask, “What rock have you been meditating under? But I think you will all agree that a beginner, checking out meditation books or websites, will most likely be let to believe that his or her only choices are either to sit in the lotus position or in a straight-backed chair with the spine erect.
   I will read over all of your comments again. I wish there was some way to post them for the rest of the people of the world who understand the importance of meditation, but may not have many opportunities in a working day. Your words are truly significant.
   Yes, I am aware of the principles of Sampajjana, but I did not know it was called that.
   Yes, I am aware of meditation while standing and walking.
   No, I am not familiar with Dream Yoga, but yes, I have been blessed with being able to experience lucid dreaming a lot. It is an unbelievable experience and I wish I could grant that experience to every person. I had the opportunity to hear Stephen Laberge, the lucid dreaming guru, speak at his seminar in Los Angeles years ago and have lunch with him. I haven’t had any lucid dreams recently. It is like riding a bicycle. You never forget, but you have to practice once in awhile; it involves a discipline. That is another topic worth pages of discussion, but to do so would be an abuse by me of this forum.
  I look forward to any other comments members of this forum have on a lying-down position.

VipassanaXYZ

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Re: Choices in Meditation Postion
« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2015, 07:38:39 AM »
 There are couple of things that come to my mind:

One of the eight precepts is abstaining from too high luxurious bedding.
I sometimes lie on the floor just to realign my back (you can search for constructive rest, Alexander technique on the web). Sharing one link:http://www.alexanderteacher.net/lyingdown.html

Buddha's favourite lying down position was lying down on his side, hand supporting the neck, on the right side. He passed away into nibbana in this position.  This position supports the natural curve of the spine (couple of heart things like position the heart etc.). He used to rest in this position, sleeping around three hours every night. During rest of the night when he wasnt sleeping, the devas used to come visit him for the teachings:)

Buddha too suffered from back pain, to find relief he used to sit and enter the fourth Jhana. At one point he said, Ananda, the pain from in the back is so much that only when I enter the Jhana I get relief from it.

In india, I have a handmade mattress that is free from chemicals: cotton cloth sewn filled with pure cotton strands - the weaver made it for me the traditional way. There are other traditional ways of making some firm but super comforting mattresses like buckwheat hulls: https://www.google.com.sg/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&rlz=1C1CHMO_en-GBIN576IN576&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=buckwheat%20hulls%20mattress

Like the meditation cushion, kept exclusively for meditation, if you meditate lying down often, keep a bed kept exclusively for meditation.

Again, if you wish to meditate, and not sleep, meditating bright light as the subject of meditation dispels drowsiness: https://books.google.com.sg/books?id=zQmsAAAAQBAJ&pg=PA124&lpg=PA124&dq=Pay+no+attention+to+thoughts+that+cause+drowsiness.+If+that+does+not+work,&source=bl&ots=YOEf9lrqbT&sig=xledeqdO3s43v68WwtOwESrbils&hl=en&sa=X&ei=1jiSVfuqN429ugTAjYOgDw&ved=0CB0Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Pay%20no%20attention%20to%20thoughts%20that%20cause%20drowsiness.%20If%20that%20does%20not%20work%2C&f=false

Sometimes, when meditating lying down, I have used the opportunity to observe the rising and falling of the navel region of the stomach.

« Last Edit: June 30, 2015, 08:34:49 AM by poojavassa »

willvee

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Re: Choices in Meditation Postion
« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2015, 05:34:55 AM »
Thank you, poojavassa for your expansion on forms of meditation while lying down. I treat each reply from everyone seriously. I will read your reply again.

I also appreciate your earlier story of the monk who was tied to the ground and didn't want to injure the plant by breaking free.  The stories teach a lesson and for some reason I remember the stories about the monks longer than if you had simply said the Buddha warned against damaging plants.

VipassanaXYZ

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Re: Choices in Meditation Postion
« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2015, 10:52:48 AM »
yes, in that story (monk tied to the ground), the monk stayed meditating in that position for seven days before reaching the final goal of enlightenment. If I remember the story right :)

Dhamma is subtle, and the moral of the story is more about capacity for morality, and ability to put effort in what you believe. Like when you love someone, you would do things great and small for them, all for love, because of the heart's capacity to love. Then it is no more about rules in the book.

Thats what the story is about for me. Not really about a minor rule of not "damaging" plants, in this case one could argue human life was more important.

Another story, just to balance things out:

A couple travelled through the desert with their only child. Ran out of supply and starving now. The last leg of the journey is 3-4 days of walk but they are exhausted and starving, almost reaching death. Instead of losing three lives, they chose to sacrifice the child for bare nourishment and lamenting and crying crossed the desert.

Stories are stories. This one is generally cited for monks to partake food for nourishment and not for taste or delight, unnecessary craving that ties us to the world.

The motivation, for meditation, is liberation/enlightenment and nothing short of that. These stories, advanced meditation concepts generally do not appeal to people who seek health/magic/airy fairy stuff. People who want to continue rolling in samsara.



« Last Edit: July 02, 2015, 10:55:08 AM by poojavassa »

Matthew

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Re: Choices in Meditation Postion
« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2015, 01:27:16 PM »
Great posts, liked this a lot:

Quote
The motivation, for meditation, is liberation/enlightenment and nothing short of that. These stories, advanced meditation concepts generally do not appeal to people who seek health/magic/airy fairy stuff. People who want to continue rolling in samsara.
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

willvee

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Re: Choices in Meditation Postion
« Reply #11 on: July 10, 2015, 06:47:28 AM »
The joy of participating in this forum is that all of the posts are positive. I sense no selfish motive.  If I am persuaded by comments by poojavassa or Matthew to consider another facet in the journey to enlightenment, I am benefited, not they. Not so with many forums on how to live one’s life. They seem to be a contest of one-upmanship.

I often have other thoughts and questions spring to mind on the practices being discussed here, but I feel I should bring them up under other topics. However, to repeat poojavassa: The motivation, for meditation, is liberation/enlightenment and nothing short of that. You would think every human on the planet would want to give the Buddha’s advice a try to achieve personal peace. But the ego has a vise grip on most of us. It says to us, “Your only solution to this discomfort is to think more about it.” I submit that when this path to that peace is offered to people, 99.9% of the population would answer, “That’s easy for you to say; you don’t have my problems.”