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Thread: Taigu on Sitting (Part 2)

  1. #1

    Taigu on Sitting (Part 2)


    Rev. Taigu offers a few more perspectives on the “sitting” of “just sitting.” He says:

    Sitting on a cushion is what we normally do. The actual flexibility of this cushion called a zafu makes it possible to position it at an angle which makes sitting much more comfortable. A zafu is a very personal item and one should search around to find the right thickness for the cushion. When putting hands together to form the zazen mudra, we usually put the left hand on top of the right, palms up and thumbs very lightly touching. If you are not using a koromo, which is a black robe with huge sleeves, then you may use a towel and put it on your lap to support the mudra.

    [youtube] [/youtube]
    Last edited by Jundo; 11-07-2016 at 03:54 PM.

  2. #2

    Re: Sit-a-Long with Taigu: Zazen for Beginners (Part VI)

    Rev Taigu's explanation and demonstrations of posture are very clear and elegant. However, to me, they are rather forbidding.

    I am a 67 year-old male with a very sedentary full-time job and no real history of sitting before October last year. Previously I'd found the expectations of sitting meditation unmanageable, at least as I'd learned from Theravada and Tibetan practitioners. It wasn't until I read Joko Beck and Jakusho Kwong that I could put my fear (and apparent experience) of failure behind me. Since then I've been able to maintain a daily sitting of about 20-25 minutes and enjoy it.

    However, I don't sit in a half-lotus or Burmese position. That would be unthinkable for me! I tried something like it once recently and simply rolled back and almost banged my head. And I have lived for many years in places where people sit on the floor. I do it sometimes, but it's not a pretty sight, and it feels very uncomfortable. I shift about and put one hand on the floor (and get up as soon as decently possible).

    So when I sit, I sit on a fairly high cushion - a footrest, actually - and my legs are crossed loosely in front of me with my hands resting on my thighs, near or above the knees. I think my back is straight and I am quite comfortable.

    For a physically pretty inflexible senior citizen, my posture makes sense to me, but how would Zen teachers regard it? Is it acceptable?

  3. #3

    Re: Sit-a-Long with Taigu: Zazen for Beginners (Part VI)

    Hi Adrian,

    Everybody is different.
    Acceptable or not is not the point.
    The point is...You know what I mean.
    You sit as you do. Let your knees make their way to the floor...Or sit on a chair. Whatever.
    Up. Up is the direction. Allowing weight to go down. Be light. LIGHT.

    As it is, as you are, already perfect.

    Gassho

    Taigu

  4. #4
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    Re: Sit-a-Long with Taigu: Zazen for Beginners (Part VI)

    Dear Taigu;

    Where were you twenty years ago when I went through so much pain to achieve the zazen posture i use today?? :-D

  5. #5

    Re: Sit-a-Long with Taigu: Zazen for Beginners (Part VI)

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    Hi Adrian,

    Everybody is different.
    Acceptable or not is not the point.
    The point is...You know what I mean.
    You sit as you do. Let your knees make their way to the floor...Or sit on a chair. Whatever.
    Up. Up is the direction. Allowing weight to go down. Be light. LIGHT.

    As it is, as you are, already perfect.

    Gassho

    Taigu
    Thank you Sensei.
    Gassho
    Adrian

  6. #6

    Re: Sit-a-Long with Taigu: Zazen for Beginners (Part VI)

    Adrian and Taigu,

    You have NO idea how happy I was to read this post and response. Due to bad knees and a bad back, sitting in any variation of the lotus position, and anywhere near the floor, is a no-go for me. As a result, I am a "chair sitter."

    The reason I am so happy is because almost everything I have heard or read about sitting emphasizes "lotus" and "floor." I actually felt guilty because I thought I was doing it wrong, even though I was doing the best I could. (Clearly I need more work on "guilty" and "wrong"...)

    At last I feel comfortable enough to ask: Could someone provide some posture pointers for chair sitters? Or am I still hung up on sitting "right?"

    Gassho,

    Stephen

  7. #7

    Re: Sit-a-Long with Taigu: Zazen for Beginners (Part VI)

    Taigu thank you very much, this video is great I saw it two or three days ago and the difference between my sitting before and after is huge, it really helped me to drop things more easily. To tilt the Zafu and a support for the mudra are things that I did not find anywhere before and represented a barrier to my sitting, because the back and shoulder pain created from my previous "artificial" way of sitting, besides of the guilt mentioned by Stephen

    The worry about whether I'm doing right or wrong, and pain from the artificial position, made a 15 minutes sit a mental-physical torture ... These days, I can sit around half an hour without any discomfort, and more clear mind. Again, thank you very much

  8. #8
    Thanks Taigu,

    Your video provided so much useful information. I'm uncomfortable on a cushion due to medical concerns with my legs and elsewhere, but I try anyway because I get better spine alignment than I do meditating while sitting in a chair. After watching your video, I adjusted (removed some buckwheat hulls) from my favorite zafu and what a difference. I'm getting a better angle and the spine feels much straighter and more natural. Also, I now see that I've been holding my hands too low, so I found a little cushion to place in my lap and what a difference it makes to get the hands higher and closer to the navel.

  9. #9

    A meditation bench as an alternative to a lotus-type posture

    A meditation bench offers a very stable posture without the pain of the lotus posture.

    Don't get a pine meditation bench. They are not durable. Mine broke, and I am considering getting a Pi Meditation bench for my next one. The Pi Meditation bench is hardwood and has the two supports closer to the center rather than towards the edges of the bench, which I think will result in less bumping your legs into the supports.

    Dave

  10. #10
    Hi Dave,

    Welcome to Treeleaf!

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Schauweker View Post
    Mine broke, and I am considering getting a Pi Meditation bench for my next one. The Pi Meditation bench is hardwood and has the two supports closer to the center rather than towards the edges of the bench, which I think will result in less bumping your legs into the supports.
    I have one of these and they are great. You can really sit directly on your sitting bones and get a very stable position quite naturally.
    Furthermore, you can vary the position of your feet and knees in case of pain after long sitting...

    Gassho,

    Timo
    no thing needs to be added

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu View Post
    Hi Adrian,

    Everybody is different.
    Acceptable or not is not the point.
    The point is...You know what I mean.
    You sit as you do. Let your knees make their way to the floor...Or sit on a chair. Whatever.
    Up. Up is the direction. Allowing weight to go down. Be light. LIGHT.

    As it is, as you are, already perfect.

    Gassho

    Taigu
    Thank you Taigu ... Simply put.

    Gassho
    Shingen
    RINDO 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.

  12. #12

    Thanks for your reply, Timo

    It's great to be here at Treeleaf. What a great resource.

    Gassho,

    Dave

  13. #13
    Thank you Taigu. I have never tried to change legs. I will start to alternate after each sitting.
    Lee

  14. #14
    Started sitting with a thin pillow that I have borrowed from our dogs to rest the mudra as you show on your video Taigu. What a difference! Thanks for teaching me this .
    Gassho, Jakudo Hinton
    Gassho, Shawn Jakudo Hinton
    It all begins when we say, “I”. Everything that follows is illusion.
    "Even to speak the word Buddha is dragging in the mud soaking wet; Even to say the word Zen is a total embarrassment."
    寂道

  15. #15
    Thank you for this. I enjoy your delivery in teaching. Very welcoming and forgiving.

  16. #16
    Thank you, Taigu. I am going to start using a towel to support the mudra.

    Gassho,
    Rick

  17. #17
    Best explanation I have seen so far. This definitely lowers the threshhold for me to start practicing sitting meditation, and more importantly with fellow practitioners (without being too self-conscious). Thanks so much.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Eugene View Post
    Best explanation I have seen so far. This definitely lowers the threshhold for me to start practicing sitting meditation, and more importantly with fellow practitioners (without being too self-conscious). Thanks so much.

    Hi Eugene

    I am new here also; been sitting regularly since this summer. Best advice I can give you is to JUST DO IT. If you are making a mistake that's ok. Then you learn what you aren't doing as you go. Please feel free to join any of our online sitting groups on Google+ I promise we won't bite you if you aren't perfect. It helps to have others do it with you I find.

    "We are all beginners" - Taigu

    Gassho
    C

  19. #19

  20. #20
    Thank you! I found this very helpful. My legs are very stiff and out of shape and I've found some yoga stretches that help out immensely if anyone has the same problems I do.

    Bound Angle Pose: http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/486
    Half Lord of the Fishes Pose: http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/485
    Head-to-Knee Forward Bend: http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/476

    I noticed an immediate difference, so maybe they can help others loosen up.

  21. #21
    Thank you.


    Gassho,
    Myosha
    "Recognize suffering, remove suffering." - Shakyamuni Buddha when asked, "Uhm . . .what?"

  22. #22
    Hello,

    This video was pretty useful for me. I kind of learned to meditate mostly online, and also from the rare opporunities to visit meditation centers, but I've never really learned it in a comprehensive way. After watching this video, I tried some of the points outlined, and my meditation experience was a lot better. Less of a struggle, more able to "release". Amazing what a difference posture can make.

  23. #23
    I feel a bit relieved to watch this video. I always found my hands starting to droop lower as time passed. Putting a cushion or towel to support the mudra is a good idea.

    Quote Originally Posted by Josh View Post
    Thank you! I found this very helpful. My legs are very stiff and out of shape and I've found some yoga stretches that help out immensely if anyone has the same problems I do.

    Bound Angle Pose: http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/486
    Half Lord of the Fishes Pose: http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/485
    Head-to-Knee Forward Bend: http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/476

    I noticed an immediate difference, so maybe they can help others loosen up.
    Thanks for the yoga poses!

    - June

  24. #24
    Thank you, Taigu. I've tried half-lotus and Burmese many, many times and always my legs would very quickly fall asleep and make me very uncomfortable. No one ever mentioned tilting the zafu a little up, which I just tried and found that I could sit half-lotus for 20 minutes without any discomfort at all! I'll be experimenting with this further...

    Brian
    sattoday!

  25. #25
    "As it is, as you are, already perfect."

    If i am a disability person, and i cant do other activities zen efficiently...

    Thats perfect too to do a zen way?

    Sat today

    Gassho

    Mokuhó

  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by Mokuhó View Post
    "As it is, as you are, already perfect."

    If i am a disability person, and i cant do other activities zen efficiently...

    Thats perfect too to do a zen way?

    Sat today

    Gassho

    Mokuhó
    Oh yes. Mokuho is just sitting as Mokuho. If on crutches or a wheelchair, be on crutches or a wheelchair. If needed to recline to "sit" because of physical condition, just do so. Each is the one way to be, to one act to fulfill, in that instant of "sitting".

    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  27. #27

  28. #28
    Thank you Taigu and Jundo,

    I tried adjusting the zafu and also using a towel to support the mudra and was able to sit for 30 minutes this morning without the tension and pain in my lower back that I often experience when trying to sit half-lotus or Burmese style. Personally, I usually find myself in seiza because it seems to support my back better, and is generally comfortable while sitting. The problem, however is that after sitting in seiza, it takes a good 5 - 10 minutes to get my legs functioning again. Generally, when I sit half-lotus or Burmese, I don't have that problem afterward, but have more discomfort while sitting. Using the suggestions, I had a much better time with that today.

    I wonder though, is there ever a point in which you get used to sitting in seiza without having your legs fall asleep?

    Gassho,

    Ashley

    Sat Today

  29. #29

  30. #30
    Thank you Taigu.

    The tips about tilting the zafu and supporting the mudra were so helpful.

    Gassho,
    Libby

    sat today

  31. #31
    Thanks for the tips today, Taigu- sensei
    Andrew
    I sat today.

  32. #32
    Thank you, Jundo and Taigu!

    I have a buckwheat-filled zafu at home which is stable, yet able to be shaped as desired. The cotton or zapok-filled zafus at a Zen center I used to visit were fine, except that they caused pressure on certain sensitive areas. With buckwheat, you can make a valley or divit, like you might see on a fancy bicycle seat.

    Gassho,
    Matt
    SatToday

  33. #33
    Thank you Taigu and Jundo

    I now will use a cloth under my hands before I was all ways to worried about
    doing thing wrong or right.


    Gassho
    Cyd

  34. #34
    Thanks for this talk! It helped me more than any other video could help. I finally saw that the the Zafu has to be a bit in the air and shouldn't stay flat on the ground. Now I finally experience some "stability" and it feels way better than my other attempts. Maybe I'm still doing something wrong as my Zafu isn't filled to the top and can change sizes pretty easily but that's not so important now. But I shouldn't use polyester trousers anymore, always sliding forwards.

    Gassho, Max
    #s@ttoday (and will sit again)

  35. #35
    Seiza bench works best for me.

    Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_
    "The Great Way is not difficult. It only excludes picking and choosing. Once you stop loving and hating, It will enlighten itself." - Xin Xin Ming

  36. #36
    Hi everyone,

    I posted earlier that the video really helped me and I thought it does, but I'm facing a big (not-big) problem right now. It's just that when sitting in the Zafu, I'm slipping off. Maybe I have to try it out a different way or try Seiza (which I've never had problems with). I'm very distracted by looking at my body not slipping off the Zafu. I guess I'll just sit Seiza in the meantime as it works besteht for me.

    Gassho, Max
    (didn't sit today due to being sick)

  37. #37
    Hi Max,

    Try different pants. Try to sit a bit back with the spine just a drop in from of the center axis.

    Is you Zafu too high? Can you post of selfie close up of your butt on the Zafu, and you legs in sitting posture, from front and side so I can see?

    Gassho, Jundo

    SatToday
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  38. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Try different pants.
    I think I just found kensho.

    Gassho
    Byōkan
    sat today

  39. #39
    Hello Jundo,

    thank you for your advice. I'll definitely switch my pants a few times to see which ones make me slip. I guess I can make some pictures tomorrow if I didn't find a good way to sit in the meantime.

    Gassho, Max

  40. #40
    Haha I have that problem too because my zafu is very high, but I mostly sit seiza anyway. If I sit in the other postures I just throw a small towel over the zafu and that provides enough friction to stop the slide.
    Gassho
    Jakuden
    SatToday


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    serene
    ​field

  41. #41
    Hello again,

    I didn't try different pants, but I just stretched my legs a little bit more when I sit burmesian. Now I sit a lot calmer than before and my mind slows down faster than it did before. In the last few Zazen sittings it was no problem for me to sit longer than 10 minutes, before that I couldn't sit for 10 minutes straight without getting ultimately bored.

    Gassho, Max
    #s@ttoday

  42. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by Makkusu View Post
    Hello again,

    I didn't try different pants, but I just stretched my legs a little bit more when I sit burmesian. Now I sit a lot calmer than before and my mind slows down faster than it did before. In the last few Zazen sittings it was no problem for me to sit longer than 10 minutes, before that I couldn't sit for 10 minutes straight without getting ultimately bored.

    Gassho, Max
    #s@ttoday
    Lovely. Do you mean that your knees are farther apart than before? Are you knees resting comfortably on the ground, not one or both hanging up in the air? Or do you mean that you just did some muscle stretches before you sat? It would be helpful to hear.

    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  43. #43
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Lovely. Do you mean that your knees are farther apart than before? Are you knees resting comfortably on the ground, not one or both hanging up in the air? Or do you mean that you just did some muscle stretches before you sat? It would be helpful to hear.

    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    Exactly, now they are farther apart than before. The farther apart I place them the steadier I sit I saw. My knees are unfortunately still kind of hanging in the air, but the legs are comfortably resting on the ground. I hope that helped. ^^

    Gassho, Max
    #s@today

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