Author Topic: Sitting cross legged  (Read 2121 times)

sonnald

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Sitting cross legged
« on: November 28, 2016, 08:20:21 PM »
Hi everyone!

So I've recently been experiencing back pain and I think it's to do with my posture during meditation. I have a high rinsing cushion from Calming Breath and have tried playing around with the amount of filling but I just can't seem to get it right. My thighs don't touch the floor and so I was wondering, even with this high cushion, should I meditate in a chair or lying down instead? Is it just that I'm not flexible enough for cross legged meditation or is there another cushion that will better serve my needs? Any help would be much appreciated  :)

Thanks!

Nicky

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Re: Sitting cross legged
« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2016, 02:17:26 AM »
Use a chair (but do not lean against the back of the chair). Do not lie down.

Please click on the attached photo.

Regards  :)


sonnald

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Re: Sitting cross legged
« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2016, 05:11:14 PM »
Thank you Nicky! I also forgot to add that it seems to be since I've started using my cushion that I've been experiencing quite a bit of back pain. I feel like my posture is good when meditating but maybe I'm wrong. I can't seem to shake the pain throughout the day now so should I avoid using the cushion for now until the pain subsides? I'm sure there are lots of people out there who have experienced this before  :)

Thanks again!

clayton

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Re: Sitting cross legged
« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2016, 05:43:51 PM »
Be open to the possibility of walking meditation.  It is not often a suggestion even though it can genuinely work better for some people.  You will have to experiment for yourself to know if it is helpful for you, of course.

Additionally, in my own case I do not use a 'real' meditation cushion.  I use a conglomeration of stacked blankets and cushioning material to get everything relatively comfortable.  I find it helpful to sit against a kind of downward slope of cushions as if I'm sitting on an angle of a very small hill.  My knees or ankles I may wrap with blankets or a t-shirt.  I will generally adjust my sitting position within the first 5 minutes of the sit to identify and resolve any discomfort to benefit the remainder of my sit.  For me it is really important not to sit in pain.  It may be necessary to place cushions under your thighs or knees as needed until your body is more flexible.  It is also often suggested to do some stretches or exercises, such as, yoga or similar, before you intend to do your meditation.  If the pain is hurting, and it sounds like it is, do everything you can to alleviate the pain. Don't simply sit through the pain if you can find ways to be gentle with your body and reduce your suffering.

Lastly, I alternate which leg/knee is on top.  What  I mean by this is that if it is an 'even' day, let's say Nov 30 (the number 30 is even), I'll keep my right leg/knee on top in the sit position.  But, if it is an 'odd' day, Nov 29 (the number 29 is odd), I'll keep my left leg/knee on top in the sit position.  And, of course, it is possible that if a month ends on an odd day (e.g., Oct 31), I will have 2 odd days in a row. In that case I might sit in a regular chair on Oct 31.
So, this means I'm regularly alternating between what leg is laying on top which tends to alleviate some of the imbalances outside of meditation that may occur when you sit only with your right leg on top.  Basically, it helps me walk better to switch between the legs everyday.

Follow your nose

Goofaholix

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Re: Sitting cross legged
« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2016, 11:51:30 PM »
You can sit on a chair, but it is worthwhile using a posture that you wouldn't normally use as this signals to the mind that now is meditation time.

Google the butterfly stretch and other stretching exercises that help with sitting posture, doing these daily for a month will make a big difference.  You want to get your knees on the ground and have a straight back.

Nicky

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Re: Sitting cross legged
« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2016, 03:47:13 AM »
...it is worthwhile using a posture that you wouldn't normally use as this signals to the mind that now is meditation time.

So would this rather idiosyncratic idea help nurture meditative awareness in everyday life or non-formal-meditation activities?  ::)

Goofaholix

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Re: Sitting cross legged
« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2016, 06:03:44 AM »
So would this rather idiosyncratic idea help nurture meditative awareness in everyday life or non-formal-meditation activities?  ::)

Yes, just as choosing a supportive posture helps nurture sitting meditation, sitting meditation helps nurture meditative awareness in everyday life or non-formal-meditation activities.

Of course not if someone thinks that sitting meditation is the be all and end all though.

Nicky

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Re: Sitting cross legged
« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2016, 06:17:40 AM »
Yes, just as choosing a supportive posture helps nurture sitting meditation, sitting meditation helps nurture meditative awareness in everyday life or non-formal-meditation activities.

But originally, you gave the impression that a specific change of posture enhances meditation thus, by default, this would seem to infer that departure from that posture would result in a diminution of meditation.

.......

Goofaholix

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Re: Sitting cross legged
« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2016, 08:21:42 AM »
But originally, you gave the impression that a specific change of posture enhances meditation thus, by default, this would seem to infer that departure from that posture would result in a diminution of meditation.

Not at all.  If a specific exercise enhances muscle strength that doesn't infer that departure from it reduces muscle strength for example.

The point of mental strength developed in sitting meditation as with muscle strength is making use of it in your daily life.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2016, 08:23:41 AM by Goofaholix »

dharma bum

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Re: Sitting cross legged
« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2016, 05:39:53 PM »
I suffer from back pain also in multi-day retreats, though I find that my concentration is better when I am in pain. All other thoughts recede as I focus on how terrible the pain is. :)

My posture has gotten better over the years. Earlier I would slump and numerous times i have been scolded by retreat helpers and instructors. I find that occasional yoga has helped me in my posture. Now I try consciously to keep my spine almost straight. I find that the effort of keep my back straight now has become part of the meditation.
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Nicky

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Re: Sitting cross legged
« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2016, 06:34:34 PM »
The point of mental strength developed in sitting meditation as with muscle strength is making use of it in your daily life.

At least in the Pali suttas, meditation is called "citta bhavana", which means "cultivation of mind". Thus, the posture of the body is essentially irrelevant, which is why four postures are taught (sitting, standing, walking & lying down before sleep) for meditation.

The only place I am aware of in the Pali suttas where the term "kaya bhavana" ("cultivation of the body") is used was introduced into the discussion by a non-Buddhist. "Kaya bhavana" ("cultivation of the body") is taught by other sects, such as Jains & Hindus.

 ::)


Nicky

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Re: Sitting cross legged
« Reply #11 on: November 30, 2016, 06:40:41 PM »
I suffer from back pain also in multi-day retreats, though I find that my concentration is better when I am in pain. All other thoughts recede as I focus on how terrible the pain is. :)

Sounds like something 'Freudian' is going on here, such as avoidance of something.  ::)

I think the important matter you have highlighted is life long "back-pain" due to physically abusing & tormenting the body in "multi-day retreats".

The Buddha dismissed & rejected the practise of tormenting the body in his 1st sermon and taught the foundation of his "Middle Way" was the feelings of meditative pleasure from jhana (meditative absorption).

 :)

Goofaholix

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Re: Sitting cross legged
« Reply #12 on: November 30, 2016, 06:53:05 PM »
At least in the Pali suttas, meditation is called "citta bhavana", which means "cultivation of mind". Thus, the posture of the body is essentially irrelevant, which is why four postures are taught (sitting, standing, walking & lying down before sleep) for meditation.

Of course, and for the first posture if you want to slouch on the couch this is not going to help support the mind to be awake and aware nor attentive to the subtle aspects of mind and body you're normally not aware of, the OP just asked about the first posture.

Once there is a momentum of mindfulness established through formal practice though awareness will naturally extend into other circumstances and activities.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2016, 07:06:28 PM by Goofaholix »

dharma bum

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Re: Sitting cross legged
« Reply #13 on: November 30, 2016, 08:36:11 PM »
Quote
Sounds like something 'Freudian' is going on here, such as avoidance of something.  ::)

I think the important matter you have highlighted is life long "back-pain" due to physically abusing & tormenting the body in "multi-day retreats".

The Buddha dismissed & rejected the practise of tormenting the body in his 1st sermon and taught the foundation of his "Middle Way" was the feelings of meditative pleasure from jhana (meditative absorption).

I think the pain gets rid of the jumping around of the mind. It is definitely helps in the mind not drifting off/falling asleep. I think getting past the pain/physical discomforts as part of the process. A lot of the pain is a consequence of modern living which involves sitting on chairs and couches. I treat it the same way as pain when you exercise. You basically ignore it as much as you can.

I'm not sure sitting with an upright posture would qualify as tormenting the body even if there is some pain in the beginning (if you have no health issues). The Buddha possibly alluded to the kind of austerities practised by shramanas in 2500 BC, which could be a bit over the top.
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rogp99

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Re: Sitting cross legged
« Reply #14 on: December 01, 2016, 06:41:36 AM »
I think the important matter you have highlighted is life long "back-pain" due to physically abusing & tormenting the body in "multi-day retreats".

The Buddha dismissed & rejected the practise of tormenting the body in his 1st sermon and taught the foundation of his "Middle Way" was the feelings of meditative pleasure from jhana (meditative absorption).

 :)
Pretty sure He meant that there is some painful way that is plainly pointless for spiritual advances.

Depend on what kind of pain though, some of them can make your mind jumps even more.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2016, 06:44:51 AM by rogp99 »

 

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