Author Topic: Trying to find a comfortable sitting posture  (Read 9655 times)

ni68ana

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Trying to find a comfortable sitting posture
« on: May 19, 2010, 02:12:04 PM »
Hello all :)

I'm new to this forum, though not new to meditation. I've been practicing different methods for nine years or so, though I am still struggling with the issue of posture while sitting, and was wondering if perhaps someone here could give me advice on how to improve it.

I've tried several different postures over the years, all of which give me discomfort to the point that I'm not able to relax and get comfortable, and often just suffer, tense, through much of the sitting period.  Recently I've been sitting on a chair with a little pillow under the edge of my butt which helps to keep my back straight, though this is not optimal since it's not very stable, and is uncomfortable (though not as uncomfortable as "tailor posture" has been to my back, or kneeling posture to my knees).

I know that dealing with pain equanimously is a huge part of the practice, but at the same time the point isn't to torture yourself. I think it will benefit my practice tremendously to be able to sit in a posture that is comfortable, stable, and allows me to keep my back erect.

I'm aiming for the burmese posture, because I know this allows the stability of sitting on the floor, while keeping the back erect, and is the easiest of the recommended floor postures (the lotuses can wait for now  :P first let me get comfortable with anything!).

So can anyone recommend some kind of practice, stretching, progressive plan, etc., I can do which will train my body to sit in burmese comfortably?

Many thanks!

Morning Dew

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Re: Trying to find a comfortable sitting posture
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2010, 09:43:52 AM »
Quote
I'm aiming for the ........ posture,

Hallo friend  :)

give up aiming for anything and simply sit on a chair or walk slowly very slowly putting one foot on the ground infront of the other and be aware of it totaly. Like in Shamatha, just instead of bringing your awareness to the whole body breahing here you bring awareness to body breathing and walking, while observing all conditioned thoughts of your mind.

Being in meditation while sitting in a chair;
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_bsyuacXiuFk/SW1_I7StIVI/AAAAAAAAAHo/IVNc2LBrXQE/s400/Sitting+in+a+chair+meditation.JPG

Remain relaxed  :)

Matthew

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Re: Trying to find a comfortable sitting posture
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2010, 10:03:25 AM »
http://www.vipassanaforum.net/forum/index.php/topic,402.0.html

http://www.vipassanaforum.net/forum/index.php/topic,89.0.html

All these threads have information about sitting comfortably.

In addition:

Stretching: stretch like a cat does. When a cat wakes up it opens one eye, then the other, looks around, yawns, stretches out each limb in turn, arches it's back, then gets out of bed. I suggest you do the same.

Swimming: swimming will strengthen your back muscles and help you achieve good posture.

Sitting: I don't recommend Burmese particularly. If you haven't grown up that way it takes a long time to get used to it. A good way to get a comfortable base is to sit on a cushion about 6" or 30cm high, with legs loosely crossed in front of you or with knees on the floor to create a nice strong tripod. The height you may need to adjust according to your weight/size/body type.

Sitting in a chair: Do not use the back of the chair to support your back. Use your back muscles. You will never strengthen them or achieve good posture if you use a back support to sit.

Warmly,

In the Dhamma,

Matthew
« Last Edit: May 22, 2010, 03:51:47 PM by The Irreverent Buddhist »
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ni68ana

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Re: Trying to find a comfortable sitting posture
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2010, 02:19:10 PM »
Thanks both for your responses  :) when I sit on a chair I do make sure to keep my back unsupported and erect, but I find that it is less stable, and besides on a recent retreat I attended I found that chairs aren't always available! Luckily it was only a one day retreat  :P

I really appreciated the posts you linked to, TIB, including the link to the chapter on problems and physical pain in Mindfulness in Plain English, which I had always wanted to read, but didn't ever think to look for online! So I was very glad to find that in any case.

I wasn't able to open the first link (/topic,646.0.html), got a message saying it was off limits to me - what do I need to do to make viewing possible?

BTW, also really enjoyed the story of how you came to be known as The Irreverent Buddhist  :D I am actually currently looking for a longer-term meditation center / community like the one you described, I would like to ask about this but think it's probably a topic for a new thread... which I will post shortly.

Thanks again for the tips!
« Last Edit: May 22, 2010, 02:35:09 PM by ni68ana »

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
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  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: Trying to find a comfortable sitting posture
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2010, 03:52:57 PM »
I really appreciated the posts you linked to, TIB, including the link to the chapter on problems and physical pain in Mindfulness in Plain English, which I had always wanted to read, but didn't ever think to look for online! So I was very glad to find that in any case.

I wasn't able to open the first link (/topic,646.0.html), got a message saying it was off limits to me - what do I need to do to make viewing possible?

You are welcome .... my bad on that first link .... time will answer your question :)

Warmly,

Matthew
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kidnovice

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    • Theravada: with nuts and bolts from Goenka-ji, and fine tuning from Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Re: Trying to find a comfortable sitting posture
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2010, 11:49:59 PM »
Hey Matthew,

Could you explain the difference between the Burmese posture and

Quote
to sit on a cushion about 6" or 30cm high, with legs loosely crossed in front of you or with knees on the floor to create a nice strong tripod. The height you may need to adjust according to your weight/size/body type.

Your description (especially the part where the knees are on the floor creating a tripod) sounds a lot like what I have been calling "Burmese."  I wonder if I'm missing something. Maybe a picture? 

Thanks,
KN

P.S. love the image of a stretching cat!
May we cultivate the serenity to accept the things we cannot change; the compassion to change the things we can; and the wisdom to know the difference.

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
  • Staff
  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: Trying to find a comfortable sitting posture
« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2010, 08:39:23 AM »
KN,

You are right this is a modified Burmese position. What I meant was that Burmese without the cushion is a tricky posture unless you grew up doing yoga or eating every meal cross legged on the floor.

Warmly,

Matthew
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Morning Dew

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Re: Trying to find a comfortable sitting posture
« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2010, 09:53:17 AM »
I am changing between the modified Burmese, Seiza and sitting in the chair. I will try walking meditation too.
I came to realise that it doesn't matter how you sit as soon it does not bring lots of pain to your body, that is not necessery.

The reason I change the positions is that after some time it gets painful in some parts of my leggs or lower back (in burmese lower back, neck and one of the knees, in Seiza my left ankle only)

I started using a cushion while in seiza but will make a Seiza bench soon. In Seiza my back doesn't strugle to keep straight and I feel no strain in my neck, nor do I get numbness in my leggs (unless I sit in the traditional way that is).

Here is a good DIY Seiza bench article;

Quote
Try a seiza bench. They are easy to make if you know a little woodworking.

http://www.embody.co.uk/blog/post/how_to_make_a_meditation_stool
http://www.westernchanfellowship.org/meditation-bench.html

Or you can buy one but in my opinion, they are overpriced.

I made one. Though I prefer to sit burmese style, a seiza bench is way more comfortable at the beginning, provided that you have a good cushion under your knees. But eventually, even this position gets uncomfortable. In the end, you always have to face the pain, and this is good, it is part of the lessons taught by meditation.

Morning Dew

  • Guest
Re: Trying to find a comfortable sitting posture
« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2010, 09:26:22 AM »
Yesterday I made my first Seiza bench. It was not that hard realy and is making my sitting a "peace of cake", which enables me to sit longer without beeing in pain  :)  what more can one ask  ;D





Remain relaxed  :)

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
  • Staff
  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: Trying to find a comfortable sitting posture
« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2010, 10:43:25 AM »
Nice work !

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