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Thread: Zazen Ride

  1. #1

    Zazen Ride

    Sometimes when I sit I get the feeling that I am spinning in all directions, and it sometimes makes me feel like I am going to fall off my pillow even though I am sitting pretty firmly. Is this something that should be let go, ignore, or checked out?

    or has anyone else ever experienced something like that?

    Hope to hear some input.


    Gassho


    Seiry?

  2. #2

    Re: Zazen Ride

    Quote Originally Posted by Seiry?
    Sometimes when I sit I get the feeling that I am spinning in all directions, and it sometimes makes me feel like I am going to fall off my pillow even though I am sitting pretty firmly. Is this something that should be let go, ignore, or checked out?

    or has anyone else ever experienced something like that?
    If it is something that happens in a regular basis, checked out. I am not a doctor, but it sounds like it could be related to your inner ear causing your feeling of imbalance.

  3. #3

    Re: Zazen Ride

    Quote Originally Posted by chicanobudista
    Quote Originally Posted by Seiry?
    Sometimes when I sit I get the feeling that I am spinning in all directions, and it sometimes makes me feel like I am going to fall off my pillow even though I am sitting pretty firmly. Is this something that should be let go, ignore, or checked out?

    or has anyone else ever experienced something like that?
    If it is something that happens in a regular basis, checked out. I am not a doctor, but it sounds like it could be related to your inner ear causing your feeling of imbalance.
    I agree. How often do you feel this? Does dizziness or other symptoms manifest at other times other than Zazen? Sitting in that position, so quiet with mild "sensory deprivation", drop in blood pressure, lack of focus by the eyes on particular objects ... I can think of many possible triggers to an episode of dizziness.

    Also, if you have visions of Buddha picking you up and spinning you around at the same time ... please let us know too.

    Gassho, J

  4. #4

    Re: Zazen Ride

    Actually as far as I know it only happens every now and then(not that often but still) during zazen.
    If I'm sitting and it happens should I stop or sit it through? Once I do stop a sitting the feeling goes away. It seems to be something that only occurs on rare occasions in zazen.


    Gassho

    Seiryu

    P.S


    and if Buddha did ever pick me up you will be the first to know. :shock:

  5. #5

    Re: Zazen Ride

    Quote Originally Posted by Seiry?
    Sometimes when I sit I get the feeling that I am spinning in all directions, and it sometimes makes me feel like I am going to fall off my pillow even though I am sitting pretty firmly. Is this something that should be let go, ignore, or checked out?

    or has anyone else ever experienced something like that?

    Hope to hear some input.


    Gassho


    Seiry?
    No, I've never had that particular sensation. My only advice (from experience) is to make sure you are not manipulating or encumbering your natural breathing rhythm and depth. I used to find that in an effort to be still I would unconsciously limit my breath and it would make me feel strange.

    That's all I can think of.

    Gassho,
    Eika

  6. #6
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: Zazen Ride

    Hi Seiryu,

    I have had something like that happen a couple times and each time I stopped, refocused my eyes for 30-60 seconds, and continued, usually without a problem. I more often get a more subtle sensation as if I am turning, but never as if I would fall over (except a couple times when I fell asleep!). I agree with the others though and would say you should talk to a doctor if it happens frequently. Other than checking to see if anything in your sitting routine has changed recently, that's really all I can suggest.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  7. #7

    Re: Zazen Ride

    Quote Originally Posted by Seiry?
    Actually as far as I know it only happens every now and then(not that often but still) during zazen.
    If I'm sitting and it happens should I stop or sit it through? Once I do stop a sitting the feeling goes away. It seems to be something that only occurs on rare occasions in zazen.


    Gassho

    Seiryu

    P.S


    and if Buddha did ever pick me up you will be the first to know. :shock:
    If it is only happening infrequently, and not too disturbing or extreme (like you feel you will pass out), I would take a few deep breaths, refocus the eyes, adjust posture, and go back to sitting. If it becomes worse than that, I would stop for that sitting and walk Kinhin.

    I have had a similar experience due to some sinus infections too, even a bad stomach. So many possible causes.

    Let us know what happens, and if you get dizzy any other times apart from Zazen.

    Gassho, J

  8. #8

    Re: Zazen Ride

    Quote Originally Posted by Seiry?
    Sometimes when I sit I get the feeling that I am spinning in all directions, and it sometimes makes me feel like I am going to fall off my pillow even though I am sitting pretty firmly. Is this something that should be let go, ignore, or checked out?
    Hi! I'm a doctor. 8)

    The most common cause is Benign Positional Vertigo, google that. It's caused by little crystals whirling around in the canals of the inner ear and usually feels like the whole world is spinning. Since you only get it in sitting, I don't think there's another problem with your inner ear or balance nerve. Are you moving your head just before you get these attacks?

    If you have any problems with your neck, that could be the cause too. In Zazen the weight of your head might be distributed differently and you relax the muscles in the neck and shoulders. I don't think there's a good explaination of exactly how the vertigo is caused by the neck problems, but there is a relationship. And as Jundo says, infection is a common cause too.

    Loss of blood pressure usually feels different, like a dark curtain dropping before your eyes. There are certain kinds of dizziness/vertigo that comes from the brain, but if you don't have any other problems (head ache, nausea, vision), I'd take it easy. Get an exam if you feel worried, sometimes that relieves much of the symtoms!

    Sometimes when I realize just how big the universe is, I get dizzy too. Then I forget and return to my delusions.

  9. #9
    Friends of Treeleaf Dokan's Avatar
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    Re: Zazen Ride

    Quote Originally Posted by Eika
    My only advice (from experience) is to make sure you are not manipulating or encumbering your natural breathing rhythm and depth.
    I experience this as well on occasion during long-er sits. I find it is exactly from what Eika has stated. My breathing seems to shallow and slow to the point that causes a lightheaded sensation and a bit of dizziness. I don't think I've had it to the degree that I felt like I was going to fall off the zafu however...more of a drunken feeling.

    This is just my experience. When I feel this sensation I typically just take a few deep breathes and it subsides. Your mileage may vary.

    Gassho,

    Shawn

  10. #10

    Re: Zazen Ride

    Ah, yes, that might be it!
    That isn't in the medical books! :wink:

    Maybe many of us unconsciously try to drop our breathing instead of dropping our bodies and minds?

    Those of you who get this lightheadedness, do you let a long breath be long and a short breath short or do you manipulate your breathing in any way? Once in a while I automatically take a really deep breath during Zazen, does this happen to you too? Do you fight against it somehow? Do you sit so that the lower part of the belly can expand freely, ie pelvis tipped slightly forward and no restricting pants? Does it happen when you get excited, or when you are getting drowsy, or when your concentration is perfect?

    Interesting topic!

  11. #11
    Friends of Treeleaf Dokan's Avatar
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    Re: Zazen Ride

    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi
    Maybe many of us unconsciously try to drop our breathing instead of dropping our bodies and minds?
    Heh, not sure to be honest. If I do it unconsciously I am not conscious of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi
    Those of you who get this lightheadedness, do you let a long breath be long and a short breath short or do you manipulate your breathing in any way?
    I don't think about my breathe until the sensation happens and when the sensation arises, I consciously take a deep breath. I would say that I breathe normally. It doesn't seem long nor short. Just as if I was sitting at the computer reading the Treeleaf forums. However the longer I sit this seems to change.

    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi
    Once in a while I automatically take a really deep breath during Zazen, does this happen to you too? Do you fight against it somehow?
    As I think about it I would guess that the depth of my breath probably grows shallower and at a reduced interval. But I honestly don't think about my breath at all so it's somehow hard to say. Only when I get the light-headedness do I then become aware of the sensation and take a deep breath or two.

    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi
    Do you sit so that the lower part of the belly can expand freely, ie pelvis tipped slightly forward and no restricting pants? Does it happen when you get excited, or when you are getting drowsy, or when your concentration is perfect?
    Over the years my sitting has evolved. As it is today I sit with my belly and ass somewhat out, shoulders back just slightly. Nothing exaggerated but nothing straining either. While I typically don't get excited during zazen, I have been known to get drowsy. ops: I'm pretty sure my concentration has never been 'perfect'... But for me, the sensation happens when I am relaxed, focused and my breathing has 'settled' as stated above.

    A couple of additional things to note, my mouth is closed so I am breathing through my nose and I also breathe from my belly (lower diaphragm). This is a bit different than my normal day-to-day breathing which I find is up in my chest or at least split betwixt the two.

    In the end I have always just supposed it to be due to lack of O2 in my noggin. But if the good doctor has any suggestions/ideas I'm willing to give it a shot.

    Gassho,

    Shawn

  12. #12

    Re: Zazen Ride

    Quote Originally Posted by shards
    As I think about it I would guess that the depth of my breath probably grows shallower and at a reduced interval. But I honestly don't think about my breath at all so it's somehow hard to say. Only when I get the light-headedness do I then become aware of the sensation and take a deep breath or two.
    Yes, if we were to think of how we were breathing all the time, we wouldn't be doing Shikantaza, right?
    In the beginning of Zazen, I have some consciousness of my breathing, and it gets shallower, with longer intervals between breaths. But as I start to enter Samadhi, the consciousness of the breathing drops away of course. Sometimes when I lose my concentration and have to return to everything and nothing, I notice that my breathing is very shallow. Sometimes, when I draw a really deep breath, I get conscious of my breathing again, but the deep breath usually comes first in my case.

    Quote Originally Posted by shards
    Over the years my sitting has evolved. As it is today I sit with my belly and ass somewhat out, shoulders back just slightly. Nothing exaggerated but nothing straining either. While I typically don't get excited during zazen, I have been known to get drowsy. ops: I'm pretty sure my concentration has never been 'perfect'... But for me, the sensation happens when I am relaxed, focused and my breathing has 'settled' as stated above.

    A couple of additional things to note, my mouth is closed so I am breathing through my nose and I also breathe from my belly (lower diaphragm). This is a bit different than my normal day-to-day breathing which I find is up in my chest or at least split betwixt the two.
    Breathing with my diaphragm comes naturally if I'm in a stable but relaxed position and the thoughts come and go freely. We breath with the belly when we are asleep or relaxed, and with our chest and auxillary breathing muscles when we breathe consciously, are stressed or when we exercise. Sometimes when I get drowsy during Zazen my body slumps and I imagine this could impair the breathing.

    Quote Originally Posted by shards
    In the end I have always just supposed it to be due to lack of O2 in my noggin. But if the good doctor has any suggestions/ideas I'm willing to give it a shot.
    It could be, but I know for a fact that it's very hard to force your body into hypoxia. I have tried to decrease the O2 in my blood by holding my breath, but I can't get the saturation below 94-95% no matter how hard I try. Maybe Zen makes a difference. Maybe a Yogi could hold his breath until he gets unconscious. But the O2 drive to breath is very strong.

    I would say hypercarbia, too much CO2 in your blood, the result of not breathing enough, is more probable cause for this dizziness. But too little CO2 in the blood, hypocarbia, could cause dizziness too, but constricting the blood vessels in the brain, leading to hypoaxia. That's why people in panic, who hyperventilate, can suddenly get dizzy and faint.

  13. #13

    Re: Zazen Ride

    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi
    In the beginning of Zazen, I have some consciousness of my breathing, and it gets shallower, with longer intervals between breaths. But as I start to enter Samadhi, the consciousness of the breathing drops away of course.
    Just a point of procedure ...

    In Shikantaza, sometimes we 'enter Samadhi', sometimes we do not. Both are whole and completely Shikantaza nonetheless. Of course, in Shikantaza, we allow the mind to settle, the concentration to be free of runaway thoughts and distractions (and for the greedy, needy 'self' to be put out of a job for a time) so we often 'enter Samadhi'. But, where feeling peaceful and whole or where not ... whether we have an experience of 'body and mind dropped away' or not ... whether we see Golden Buddhas that pick us up and spin us around or not ... all perfectly 'perfectly just as it is' Zazen Shikantaza always, in every instant.

    Our "meditation" practice is a little unusual that way.

    Likewise, in Shikantaza, sometimes we are dizzy and sometimes not. However, best not to be dizzy. (Of course, if one has a physical condition where one has no choice about being dizzy ... then sit and recline with what is, with the physical reality of the illness.) ... all perfectly 'perfectly just as it is' Zazen Shikantaza.

    Likewise, whether one is breathing or not breathing ... all perfectly 'perfectly just as it is' Zazen Shikantaza. Still, I recommend that one continue breathing, for Zazen ... and all of life ... become rather tricky without it. :shock:

    Gassho, J

  14. #14

    Re: Zazen Ride

    Thank you for that Jundo!



    Gassho

    Seiryu

  15. #15

    Re: Zazen Ride

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Just a point of procedure ...

    In Shikantaza, sometimes we 'enter Samadhi', sometimes we do not. Both are whole and completely Shikantaza nonetheless. Of course, in Shikantaza, we allow the mind to settle, the concentration to be free of runaway thoughts and distractions (and for the greedy, needy 'self' to be put out of a job for a time) so we often 'enter Samadhi'. But, where feeling peaceful and whole or where not ... whether we have an experience of 'body and mind dropped away' or not ... whether we see Golden Buddhas that pick us up and spin us around or not ... all perfectly 'perfectly just as it is' Zazen Shikantaza always, in every instant.
    Thank you for the clarification!
    I have seen the term Samadhi used in a rather broad sense too, but when it comes to zen specific, japanese terms, I agree it is important that we speak the same language, with the same definitions (even in cases where definitions may be impossible). "As I enter Samadhi" may have sounded like something I do with ease everytime I sit. That is not the case, I promise you. Many times my Zazen is just clouds, but they are perfectly perfect clouds just the way they are!

  16. #16

    Re: Zazen Ride

    Quote Originally Posted by Seiryu
    Sometimes when I sit I get the feeling that I am spinning in all directions, and it sometimes makes me feel like I am going to fall off my pillow even though I am sitting pretty firmly. Is this something that should be let go, ignore, or checked out?
    Hi!
    I have exactly the same impression of of falling or disequilibrium sometimes! And like you said it the sitting is quite firm in these moments...
    Ordinary, I don't pay attention to them ... It never happened to me before 20 or 25 minutes of Zazen and (for me) it is always associated with a bad posture or a very one pointed/narrow concentration...
    But see for yourself, experiment... and tell us!

    Hope it help a bit!

    gassho,
    Jinyu

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