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Thread: Suggestions for starting slowly?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Shonin's Avatar
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    Suggestions for starting slowly?

    I was wondering for those who started on the inflexible side how you worked your way into meditation postures.

    I sat for 20 minutes in as close to the burmese as i could get. When I got up off the ground my legs were very stiff. Enough so it has made me think twice about trying to sit like that.

    Any suggestions appreciated and thank you.

    Dave

  2. #2

    Re: Suggestions for starting slowly?

    My legs still are super-stiff after about 20 minutes of sitting in Burmese (doing daily sitting for about 2.5 months now). But it's getting better.

    It really helps to do some stretching before and after you sit.

    And I found it useful to do some more extensive stretching every now and then. There are several tutorials on the net showing you yoga-poses that will help you to sit in half- or full-lotus. I use to just put in a nice dvd, sit on the floor and work through the various poses (as good as possible, which in my case is pretty bad) for some time (like an hour or so).

    Something that I find to be really profound is finding a good "Zafu" or something which can be used as a "Zafu". When I started to sit I used some blankets, then switched to bed pillows and finally to some other pillows. The blankets and bed-pillows did work that good as they were too flat when I sat on them and I did not manage to get into the right posture. I found that out later, when I sat on the other pillows, which raised me more and helped me to get into the proper pose. It was then that I finally understood (or experienced) how profound the pose is for sitting Zazen. It's hard to describe or put into words, but the effect is evident and definitely there.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Shonin's Avatar
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    Re: Suggestions for starting slowly?

    At this point I have no zafu. : ( Just been trying to sit on the floor. thanks for the help, tho.

    Dave

  4. #4
    disastermouse
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    Re: Suggestions for starting slowly?

    I use a bench now. In four years of sitting half-lotus, I couldn't get to the point where my legs didn't fall painfully asleep sometime after twenty minutes.

    Chet

  5. #5

    Re: Suggestions for starting slowly?

    Quote Originally Posted by ZenDave
    At this point I have no zafu. : ( Just been trying to sit on the floor. thanks for the help, tho.

    Dave
    Don't do that! At least, fold some blankets firmly under you, to raise your rear off the ground about 6 inches.

    Here are some past threads on stretching and such ...

    viewtopic.php?p=18639#p18639

    viewtopic.php?p=15434#p15434

    viewtopic.php?p=15479#p15479

  6. #6
    Senior Member Shonin's Avatar
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    Re: Suggestions for starting slowly?

    Chet, my legs didn't fall asleep so much as they were just stiff because of the felxibility issues. It seems when I try to take up excercise I like to develop health issues not related to the excercises.

    Jundo, due to back problems and the aforementioned flexibility issues I usually sit in a chair so haven't had the need to buy a zafu or seiza bench, etc. But i feel given time and approached correctly i will be able to floor sit. I do have a blanket i can try that should fit the bill until i can afford or make something better. Was thinking of that earlier when reading the thread about Rob's seiza bench. But message recieved loud and clear.

    Dave

  7. #7
    Senior Member Shonin's Avatar
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    Re: Suggestions for starting slowly?

    So I pulled out the comforter i was thinking of trying. Folded it up and it's almost perfect.The reduced tension in my legs makes it muchh easier to sit. Still a good bit of tension in the left ankle. But a significant improvement.

    Dave

  8. #8

    Re: Suggestions for starting slowly?

    Quote Originally Posted by ZenDave
    So I pulled out the comforter i was thinking of trying. Folded it up and it's almost perfect.The reduced tension in my legs makes it muchh easier to sit. Still a good bit of tension in the left ankle. But a significant improvement.

    Dave
    Dave, we have had a couple of good threads on chair sitting too ...

    viewtopic.php?p=21506#p21506

  9. #9

    Re: Suggestions for starting slowly?

    Oh, and I found it ... maybe the best article I've ever come across on chair sitting ...

    https://www.tricycle.com/columns/on-cushion-have-a-seat

    Also this recently ...

    http://www.tricycle.com/essay/leaving-lotus-position

    I still recommend the Lotus positions or Burmese if one can manage them well, next the Seiza bench ...

    Gassho, Jundo

  10. #10
    Senior Member Shonin's Avatar
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    Re: Suggestions for starting slowly?

    Thanks for those. Will take a peek here very soon.
    Dave

  11. #11
    Senior Member Martin's Avatar
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    Re: Suggestions for starting slowly?

    It took me months before I could even sit Burmese. Not being flexible at all, I sat with pillows under my knees. Gradually the pillows got lower and lower until I could sit Burmese.

    I have more recently established that if I insist on spending the Easter weekend shoveling twenty tons of gravel round the drive I damage my knees to the point where the pillows have had to come out again. I'm trusting that they I will be able to reduce them once again in time.

    Gassho

    Martin

  12. #12
    Senior Member Shonin's Avatar
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    Re: Suggestions for starting slowly?

    I haven't out pillows under yet, which I think has been good because each day it seems to get ever so slightly easier. Yesterday I sat for 20 minutes which killed me a few days ago. And I was stiff when I got up but not as bad and i loosened back up faster. Plus my knees are getting ever so slightly lower to the ground.

    Dave

  13. #13

    Re: Suggestions for starting slowly?

    I believe this link has been posted before, but here is 2 good sets of instructions- 1 for a zafu and 1 for a seiza bench.
    http://www.michiganbuddhist.com/zafu.htm

    I made a couple zafu last year and I just spent this weekend making 6 zafu using these instructions so can attest that it works. If you are experienced with hand sewing or have access to a machine, you can sew one in about 30 minutes to an hour.

    For anyone making a zafu that doesn't have access to buckwheat hulls or kapok, fabric stores carry bamboo stuffing (looks just like the regular cotton stuffing) which I highly recommend. About 2 1/2 to 3 lbs of that stuffed into a single zafu works nearly as well as kapok and doesn't compress as much as cotton fill. Sew it shut loosely or place velcro on the opening, because after a month or two of use you will need to add another 1/2 lb of stuffing to make up for the initial compression.

    Gassho,
    Jen

  14. #14
    Senior Member Shonin's Avatar
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    Re: Suggestions for starting slowly?

    Don't feel bad. LOL. I usually spend the first 3-4 minutes like a sharp "v" but the legs do ease down and am closer and closer to getting my knees on the ground fully. Still kind of painful at the beginning and end. Buttt, after that initial few minutes i feel mucch more balanced. Gonna give myself another 2-3 weeks and see how it's going then jump to 20 minutes.

    I also noticed that if I do the floor sitting 2/3/4 times a day it's easier the next day. But if I miss a day of floor sitting....owwwwwwww the next day. That is a mistake I am trying to avoid.

    Dave

  15. #15
    Senior Member Shonin's Avatar
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    Re: Suggestions for starting slowly?

    There is a site i saw that sells zafus, but they have the buckwheat hulls and some other kind of stuffing as well. I think you buy it by the lb.

    Dave

  16. #16

    Re: Suggestions for starting slowly?

    HI (oh mst zennie) Dave!

    So I think it is good to go back to the beginning, so why are you trying to sit burmese? I.e. why did you choose this position?

    gassho,
    rowan/jinho

  17. #17
    Senior Member Shonin's Avatar
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    Re: Suggestions for starting slowly?

    I am trying to eventually work my way to full lotus. I'm just verrryy inflexible, so i'm trying to get to burmese first toooo far off). then, i'll slowly try to work my way to half and eventually full lotus.

    Dave

  18. #18

    Re: Suggestions for starting slowly?

    Quote Originally Posted by ZenDave
    I am trying to eventually work my way to full lotus. I'm just verrryy inflexible, so i'm trying to get to burmese first toooo far off). then, i'll slowly try to work my way to half and eventually full lotus.

    Dave
    Well, I suppose you have tried the traditional method (yoga)? That is how Gautama happened to be sitting in that position.......

    cheers,
    rowan

  19. #19

    Re: Suggestions for starting slowly?

    If anyone is having trouble with sitting, and aspires to one of the Lotus Postures, the Burmese or the like ... I do frequently recommend a consultation at the local Yoga studio. My only caution is to bring your Zafu as ( I believe my understanding is correct) the typical Yoga version of those postures often is with the butt directly on the floor or on a very small support ... which is rather different. Make sure that the teacher knows about the Zafu.

    Gassho, J

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