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Thread: Postration

  1. #1
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Postration

    Postration: That odd sense of frustration you get when you realize your sitting posture is all wrong.

    It just came to my attention that I am sitting all "wrong" , at least as far as my posture. I am in good health, relatively flexible ( I practice Kung Fu and can do some rather difficult things there for some people). BUT My body will NOT go into full, half lotus, or even burmese. It is like my body just isn't built that way. Best I can do is quarter lotus or with my legs simply crossed. I want to try to do this technique properly but I just do not seem to be able to bend that way, and when I try my feet cramp up in a spasm.

    I know there has been discussion ad nauseum about this here so if people would merely like to direct me to previous talks/ discussion threads I am GOOD with that.

    Gassho
    C
    Last edited by Clark; 09-07-2013 at 01:17 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Genshin's Avatar
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    Hi Clark,

    Just a thought, but have you tried using a seiza bench?

    Thinking about it, I've had cramp in my feet before when sitting Burmese. I found that adding additional filling in my zafu helped. It gave me a little extra height so that I'm not restricting blood flow when sitting.

    Gassho
    Matt
    Last edited by Genshin; 09-07-2013 at 02:57 PM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Nameless's Avatar
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    I have seen talks on here about this subject as well, but I don't have any exact links. Seiza is great, it can be hard on the knees at first but through practice it slowly eases. I would just suggest do what feels right and centers your own mind. Even if that is just doing zazen while sitting in a chair.

    Gassho, John

  4. #4
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Thanks John, and Matt. Matt years ago, when I was in Japan I used to sit in seiza WITHOUT a bench. I found it hard on my Western knees but I may have to resort to it. I have also seen just putting the Zafu between the legs. I may try this also. I am really wondering though if there is really anything wrong with Quarter Lotus? It seems to be the way my body wants to sit?

    Gassho

    C
    Last edited by Clark; 09-07-2013 at 03:32 PM.

  5. #5
    Hey there Clark,

    Coupe things ... one, is the zafu you are using the proper fit? There are many variations to them and not build on a universal sizing system. Maybe you are needing something a little bigger/firmer to take the weight off. Second, maybe you have tight hip flexors? That tricky muscle had cause a lack of flexibility ... try some stretches and see how that goes.

    Also ... sometimes we have to accept the body we are given and as wonderful as it may be, it just might not do what we think it should do.

    Gassho
    Shingen
    倫道 真現

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  6. #6
    Hi Clark,

    IMHO, whatever enables you to sit centered with a straight back is fine.
    If this means Quarter Lotus - fine! If it means seiza with(out) bench - fine!
    I sat on a seiza bench for a very long time, but as I have patella dysplasia this caused serious problems eventually.
    My doc said knee surgery might be necessary one day if things went bad. As health comes first I decided to sit on a chair with a wedge pillow and without backrest.
    At first this was fairly unusual, but today I can say there is no difference at all to the "quality" of my zazen.

    So like John said, the most important thing is to find a position that enables you to be centered/straight.

    Gassho,

    Timo
    no thing needs to be added

  7. #7
    Hi Clark,
    I almost always sit seiza anymore. When I started I tried hard to do half lotus, but my legs and hips are just too tight. I'm a distance runner, and my muscles just don't stretch that way. I still try to sit a few minutes at a time that way often to condition myself, but can't do it for long without nasty knee pain. The Burmese style doesn't hurt knees, but my legs fall asleep. So that leaves seiza for me. I have a thick zafu that I actually sit on its side to get just a bit more height. I can maintain a solid three point base that way, and good posture. I know it doesn't appear traditional, but it enables me to do Zazen with stability and comfort.
    Gassho,
    Dan

  8. #8
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Hi Clark,

    To cut a long story short...
    I sit in Burmese these days. And this is not better or worse than lotus or half lotus or bench or lying down shikantaza.

    I sat in half lotus or quarter lotus for 25 years.


    You have to cut through this belief that one way is better than the other. A zafu or a bench are VERY IMPORTANT as they allow you to get the propper pelvis position .

    As I wrote recently:

    As you sit in loose clothing and kesa on the cushion in lotus, half lotus, burmese or on a bench or a chair, and if you cannot, lie down legs slightly apart folded knees pointing to the ceiling; abdomen relaxed, hips open, shoulders forgotten, involvements cast aside, the weight of your body given to the ground through the sitting bones and knees, your spine sway from left to right and right to left and gradually come to the vertical point without leaning forward or backward. Effortlessly risen up, lower back naturally curved, your head gently sits at the top of your spine, tongue touching the roof of your mouth, jaws relaxed, teeth touching, neck free, the gaze down not fixing anything, not out of focus, just as if watching distant mountains. Your hands in the universal mudra placed below the navel, left hand on top of the right hand or right hand on top of the left, palms up, thumbs delicately touching each other without any pressure. Your hands should be soft and as they touch your lower abdomen. To rest your mind in the mudra means to let the mudra do you, form you, forget you. No special attention is given to the breath, breathe in and out naturally, neither pushing nor forcing. Light and going up, body- mind unfolds in space, space blooms in body- mind. Once the mudra with body-mind manifested, from dust to star, the whole reality is enlightened.

    The secret of the Buddha-mind seal is open, just here and now before your very eyes. Don't do anything, be beyond fabrication. Drop all agendas, ideas of being somebody else or achieving something. In this, traveller, path and destination are neither one nor two. As you sit, cultivate the will to go up yet don't do it. In not doing, the natural response to gravity takes place. An inch of doing, and earth and blue sky are set apart, a fraction of making, and you have already left home. Just be caught by the still state. Simply be at home in the homeless state .
    You may check these:

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...-%28Part-IX%29

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...%28Part-III%29

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...%28Part-XII%29

    Take it easy and take care

    Gassho


    Taigu
    Last edited by Taigu; 09-07-2013 at 11:07 PM.
    Taigu, teacher at Treeleaf Sangha, was born in 1964, started Zazen early and received Shukke Tokudo in 1983 at age 18 from Rev. Mokusho Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2002. Now resides in Osaka, Japan.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Myosha's Avatar
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    Thank you.


    Gassho,
    Edward
    Practice with humility, respect all beings, avoid attachments, give rise to praj˝a from your own awareness, put an end to delusions - Hui-neng

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Clark View Post
    Thanks John, and Matt. Matt years ago, when I was in Japan I used to sit in seiza WITHOUT a bench. I found it hard on my Western knees but I may have to resort to it. I have also seen just putting the Zafu between the legs. I may try this also. I am really wondering though if there is really anything wrong with Quarter Lotus? It seems to be the way my body wants to sit?

    Gassho

    C
    Allow me to add, just for clarification, that "Seiza" in the Japanese way is very very different from what people mean by sitting on a Seiza bench! I also would not recommend Japanese Seiza if without the bench (or without a Zafu placed on its side between the legs) for Zazen.

    Here is Japanese Seiza where one actually sits on the ankles ... good for tough Samurai (and martial artists perhaps) who do not mind and wish to mentally transcend the pain bound to follow (even most Japanese born after WW2 cannot sit Seiza for more than some minutes).



    Here is Zen Seiza on a modern Bench ... probably a Western adaptation, as I have not seen them used in Japan. However, a positive adaptation I feel ...



    Here is with upturned Zafu ...



    By the way, Taigu and I also recommend this book: The Posture of Mediation by Will Johnson (but please also first read this review and some cautions here):

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...-OF-MEDITATION

    I have also written in the past about "over fetishizing" the physical Lotus posture itself, and being very physically and mentally rigid in sitting, a tendency among many (not all by any means) Japanese Zen folks that is not found among most Zen folks in the rest of Asia. I wrote about that a bit here ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...ll=1#post86943

    The basic rule of thumb is that the posture, whichever it is, should be balanced and comfortable enough to sit for longer periods of time while "letting the body drift from mind." A balanced posture facilitates a balanced mind (mind and body are not two in our Practice). In other words, find a balanced, stable posture where the body is comfortable, then ... FOGETA 'BOUT IT!

    The series of Talks by Taigu he linked to above from our "We're All Beginners" series are about the best guidance you can find on this.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 09-08-2013 at 02:05 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  11. #11
    Friends of Treeleaf Dokan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu View Post
    You have to cut through this belief that one way is better than the other.
    Oddly a truth that seems to take years to grasp.

    Gassho

    Dokan
    We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.
    ~Ana´s Nin

  12. #12
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Thank you EVERYONE, I feel I have sufficient information to work with now. i really do appreciate the support and the ability to have questions answered by experienced practitioners and students alike.

    Taigu and Jundo I understand BOTH your points.

    And now... sitting

    Gassho
    C

  13. #13
    Hi Clark,

    Like Taigu, I sit primarily in Burmese. Although I can sit comfortably in full lotus, in long periods, my right knee begins to ache for a day afterwards. If your spine and pelvis position are aligned as best as possible, that is all you can ask for at this moment, isn't it? The "perfect" idea of posture is just that, a construct. Right effort and mind will take you along the path.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Shonin's Avatar
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    As far as the exact posture. It's very difficult for me too. I usually chair sit. Have never been able to get my legs flexible enough to sit properly on a zafu. I just end up with strained legs and an enflamed back. Straight back lasts about 5-10 min with tramadol in the system. And then i'm usually sore the next day. So I can relate to your struggle. Others may have already pointed this out. But there are excercises to help you develop the leg flexibility, and from what I understand sitting alone won't do it.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Thanks sittingzen and Shonin. That's true Shonin, I suppose if I also added yoga to my plate I would get to full lotus, but I think Taigu and Jundo make a good point for just sitting as you can sit. I seem to be able to do shikantaza fine the way I am so for now I will do it that way. There seems something awfully un-Zen about a fanatical need for perfection anyway.

    Gassho

    C

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Clark View Post
    ... but I think Taigu and Jundo make a good point for just sitting as you can sit. ... There seems something awfully un-Zen about a fanatical need for perfection anyway.

    Gassho

    C
    Well, perhaps we might say that we sit "as one can sit" ... so long as one is sincere about it. Any balanced and comfortable way is fine ... Lotus, Burmese, in a Chair ... as long as one is sincere and not just slacking off.

    If there is pain, we try to find a way free of pain. If pain is unavoidable, we sit (even recline) with such ... mentally "free of suffering" even amid the pain. "Physical pain" and "suffering" are not the same in Buddhism.

    We strive sincerely, with all our hearts, for perfection, to do something well and get it right ... all while dropping from our hearts all "striving" (even as we strive) ... all while realizing the perfect "just what it is-ness" of things even as we try to do the best possible, perfectly right or perfectly wrong.

    Zen is not a one or the other way.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  17. #17
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Well, perhaps we might say that we sit "as one can sit" ... so long as one is sincere about it. Any balanced and comfortable way is fine ... Lotus, Burmese, in a Chair ... as long as one is sincere and not just slacking off.

    If there is pain, we try to find a way free of pain. If pain is unavoidable, we sit (even recline) with such ... mentally "free of suffering" even amid the pain. "Physical pain" and "suffering" are not the same in Buddhism.

    We strive sincerely, with all our hearts, for perfection, to do something well and get it right ... all while dropping from our hearts all "striving" (even as we strive) ... all while realizing the perfect "just what it is-ness" of things even as we try to do the best possible, perfectly right or perfectly wrong.

    Zen is not a one or the other way.

    Gassho, J
    Thank you Jundo.
    Gassho
    C

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Zen is not a one or the other way.
    I like this ... thanks Jundo. Simple and sweet!

    Gassho
    Shingen
    倫道 真現

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

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