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Thread: Stiffening up

  1. #1

    Stiffening up

    Something weird has been happening to me lately. When I'm getting more and more concentrated, I feel my breath slowing down. Sometimes, my brain stops producing thoughts for a while. Then, I start getting an erection! I'm not thinking about anything - no sexual fantasies or anything like that - it seems to be a purely physical reaction. Now, before I start zazen, I have to point him to the north, so he won't squeeze into my trouser leg! :shock: What's the deal? Has anyone experienced something like this?

  2. #2

    Re: Stiffening up

    Ah, yes, the Viagra-yana! "Little Buddha Awakens"! Or, as I sometimes call it, "Building a Stupa" ...

    I will guess that it could involve the change in blood pressure, or that you are pressing on a nerve down there. I would not worry about it unless it continues. Are your pants/underwear too tight? Most folks in Asia actually sit in robes, gowns or skirts ... not trousers. Try to loosen up you pants/shorts. Also, adjust your sitting position on the Zafu to ease the pressure a little on that part of the body. Try sitting a drop more forward on the Zafu.

    I would assume that it is a temporary condition. Write back if this matter continues to raise itself.

    Gassho, Jundo

    (PS-For those who are offended by my --very-- little attempt at humor ... if the Buddha does not have an irreverent sense of humor about some things in life, then I don't see the point.).

  3. #3

    Re: Stiffening up

    Let me add ...

    Just let what goes up, go up. What comes down, come down.

    J

  4. #4

    Re: Stiffening up

    Ah, a competitor to Brad Warner's "Hard Core Zen" - "Hard On Zen"

    kotsuen hokki!

  5. #5

    Re: Stiffening up

    Does this happen during walking meditation? :?

  6. #6

    Re: Stiffening up

    Not a problem I've had during meditation :lol: but I guess something most of us guys have had happen at embarrasing times :lol:

    Hope it settles down

  7. #7

    Re: Stiffening up

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Ah, yes, the Viagra-yana! "Little Buddha Awakens"! Or, as I sometimes call it, "Building a Stupa" ...
    :lol: This is too funny. I'm sitting here alone in my classroom before the students arrive and laughing like an idiot!

    Anyway, I've "built a few stupas" in my time. Sadly, as everything is impermanent, none of them have endured. But seriously, my ongoing issue has been this numb, tingly feeling down there after sitting awhile. Perhaps I'm cutting off circulation in some nerve or something. I also have the same issue when I ride a bike for a long period of time. Jundo has also offered the same advice to me about sitting on the zafu.

    Good luck, soitgoes!

    Best,
    Keith

  8. #8

    Re: Stiffening up

    Hi Keith,

    Sounds like you are putting some pressure on the sciatic nerve ...

    My friend Nonin recently wrote this:

    All of the above is good advice. I would add the following:

    There are many ways to sit zazen: full-lotus, half-lotus, quarter-lotus (with foot on calf), burmese (with both feet on the floor), seiza (Japanese kneeling posture) with the zafu on it's side, seiza on two zafus (one on top of the others), seiza on a bench, and sitting in a chair (this is frequently necessary for those who have injured themselves or with joint replacements). Also, some people with severe physical problems or illness sit zazen lying down.

    I recommend to all beginners that they sit as close to full lotus posture as they can for as long as they can. I also suggest that they sit somewhere between wimp and macho. Sit until it becomes uncomfortable, and then sit a few minutes more before you change postures. If you change too soon, you won't stretch out. On the other hand, don't tough it out for so long that you do yourself damage.

    Also, learn the difference between soft tissue or muscle pain and nerve pain. Everyone's legs fall asleep from time to time. Sometimes bending forward will take the pressure off the sciatic nerve and the legs will wake up. If your legs are asleep at the end of a sitting and they come back quickly as you stretch them out and get up, I wouldn't worry about it. If they don't and the numbness persists for some time, don't sit the way you have been. You can damage nerves. If you damage 1/8" of a nerve, it can take months to heal.

    Anytime you hold the body in a specific position, it will hurt. Just try holding your arm out parallel to the floor for any length of time. Sitting zazen for any length of time will hurt most people, although some can without pain. I have never been very limber, and I sat seiza for three years when I first started while I did exercises and stretched out. Then, I was able to sit burmese style. Eventually I was able to sit quarter-lotus and then half-lotus. I've never been able to sit full-lotus, and as I've aged, I've gone back to quarter lotus. Also, I have a knee problem, and when it flared up severely a couple of years ago, I spent six months sitting in a chair.

  9. #9

    Re: Stiffening up

    Thanks, Jundo!

  10. #10

    Re: Stiffening up

    On a related note, I've noticed after zazen I have trouble focusing my eyes for about half an hour. I'm not doing anything special while sitting, just looking at the wall, with my glasses on. Is this normal? My vision is bad, but not normally this bad

    Skye

  11. #11

    Re: Stiffening up

    this has never happened to me.

    i'll see ya'll later, i need to go meditated MORE

  12. #12

    Re: Stiffening up

    Hi Skye,

    Even though we are looking at "everything and nothing during Zazen", and nothing in particular, I do not let my eyes go out of focus very much. "Staring idly into space" may be a good description, my eyes about 2/3 open. Are you letting your eyes go out of focus most of the time? Is your vision crossing during Zazen (as if the image were split)? Are you forgetting to blink, or sitting in a room where the air is very dry and your eyes become dry? Perhaps that is part of the problem, although it is just a guess.

    This happens to me sometimes for a few minutes, but it should not happen regularly. If it continues much longer, do go get your eyes checked by a doctor. There may be a muscle weakness or some other condition that should be looked at.

    Gassho, Jundo

  13. #13

    Re: Stiffening up

    Quote Originally Posted by Skye
    On a related note, I've noticed after zazen I have trouble focusing my eyes for about half an hour. I'm not doing anything special while sitting, just looking at the wall, with my glasses on. Is this normal? My vision is bad, but not normally this bad

    Skye
    Yes, mine do the same thing. I believe Jundo is right. When I remember to not let my eyes go out of focus or cross a bit, it doesn't happen, but sometimes I don't notice and they will be blurry for about a half an hour afterwards. I find it hard to not let them go out of focus when I am sitting in front of a blank (painted sheetrock) wall. There is nothing for my eyes to look at, so it is difficult to tell if they are focused or not. Mostly I just don't worry about it; like legs falling asleep, it is temporary.

    Bill

  14. #14

    Re: Stiffening up

    I've had the same trouble ask Skye. I wear glasses, too and was wondering whether that has some effect. Looking slightly downward, I see the bottom rim of the frames when I am focusing on the wall.

    Linda

  15. #15

    Re: Stiffening up

    As a glasses wearer myself, I've experimented with sitting with and without my glasses. Since my eyesight is so poor, I've found that sitting without my glasses made me feel as if I were in a dream. It was really trippy man. I agree with Jundo about keeping your eyes slightly focused. This has helped my eyesight not get too blurry after sitting awhile.

  16. #16

    Re: Stiffening up

    I will guess that it could involve the change in blood pressure, or that you are pressing on a nerve down there. I would not worry about it unless it continues. Are your pants/underwear too tight? Most folks in Asia actually sit in robes, gowns or skirts ... not trousers. Try to loosen up you pants/shorts. Also, adjust your sitting position on the Zafu to ease the pressure a little on that part of the body. Try sitting a drop more forward on the Zafu.
    My pants are quite loose and I'm sitting on the front third of my zafu, so I don't think pressure is the problem. It seems the matter arises when I feel that my meditation is going really well and get a pervasive sense of well-being.

  17. #17

    Re: Stiffening up

    Quote Originally Posted by soitgoes
    It seems the matter arises when I feel that my meditation is going really well and get a pervasive sense of well-being.
    Well damn, man, then enjoy that stupa of yours! :wink:

  18. #18

    Re: Stiffening up

    Quote Originally Posted by lindabeekeeper
    I've had the same trouble ask Skye. I wear glasses, too and was wondering whether that has some effect. Looking slightly downward, I see the bottom rim of the frames when I am focusing on the wall.

    Linda
    Hi Linda and Keith,

    I have noticed that many Japanese Buddhist monks sit with their glasses on, although others take them off (I usually do not wear mine). Up to you. If they are a constant distraction, then do not. But they need not be. If it is just like any other object in your line of vision, then you should "see without seeing", part of looking at "everything and nothing particular". They are "there but not there". Got my point?

    Here is Nishijima Roshi's first teacher, "Homeless" Kodo Sawaki with glasses ... and without ...






  19. #19

    Re: Stiffening up

    I made a point yesterday of keeping my eyes in focus, and I didn't have the blurry afterwards. I must have been defocusing without realizing. It's a little distracting to keep focusing, but I'll probably get used to it. I'll experiment with glasses on, glasses off - having them on doesn't distract me at all.

    Thanks for the tips, now back to the stupas

  20. #20

    Re: Stiffening up

    If i took my glasses off, everything becomes one thing...so maybe i could enlighten myself faster without them.

    the heck with stupas i'm gonna go build a gilded pagoda in honor of Jundo's upcoming talks.

  21. #21

    Re: Stiffening up

    I have always taken my glasses off when I sit. For quite a while I have not only been having problems with concentration but with also staying awake. I presumed this was due to events happening where I am at the moment. However since glasses wearing has been mentioned I have had them on. So far so good. Rather than sitting in a mist I am sitting where I am. This appears to have helped.

    On a side issue, as a short sighted painter I have found it helpful (from time to time), to be able to take my glasses off and see things as shade and colour rather than line and detail.

    Maybe there is room for both?

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