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Thread: Sitting flat on the floor

  1. #1
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Sitting flat on the floor

    I don't have a zafu. When I sit, I prefer to sit flat on the floor, more Yoga-style. I have tried some zafu-like pillow constructions, but they never seem as comfortable as sitting on the floor without supports.

    I know that the recommended support system is both knees pointed down below the abdomen, forming a triangular sitting structure. What benefits am I missing out on by not sitting this way? I find it distracting.

  2. #2
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Re: Sitting flat on the floor

    I don't have a zafu per se. I use a home made one... alright it's just a pile of unused blankets, but sitting on the floor gets really unconfortable after a few minutes.

    As far as I can tell, if you use a zafu it helps your back to get straight and you have a better grounding position. Also, it's less stress for the legs.

    But if you know yoga and don't feel like using a zafu, then go ahead. At the end of the day what matter is that you sit on a comfortable position that don't distract you from your meditation.

  3. #3
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: Sitting flat on the floor

    Quote Originally Posted by Amelia
    I don't have a zafu. When I sit, I prefer to sit flat on the floor, more Yoga-style. I have tried some zafu-like pillow constructions, but they never seem as comfortable as sitting on the floor without supports.

    I know that the recommended support system is both knees pointed down below the abdomen, forming a triangular sitting structure. What benefits am I missing out on by not sitting this way? I find it distracting.
    I think you have provided a perfect rationale for why you should try an actual zafu.

    It isn't about what we "prefer". It isn't about what we find "comfortable". It isn't about what "benefits" we shall accrue. And it isn't about avoiding that which we find "distracting".

    It is about none of these things and all of these things. It is about eroding the distinctions between them.

    So, if your current sitting is about that which you prefer and find comfortable, try another way without any forseeable benefits and with all the distracting things you can imagine.

    After you've actually tried a zafu, then I think you'll figure it out.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  4. #4
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Sitting flat on the floor

    Hi All,

    I think Dosho hit the nail on the head! All I have to offer is support over the idea of at least giving the Zafu a try.

    Gassho,
    John

  5. #5
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: Sitting flat on the floor

    Well, it will be a long while, in my brain's made-up version of the foreseeable future, before I can acquire a proper zafu. One may make its way down stream to me, but as of right now, all I have to work with is pillows. Is this a suitable replacement? Or am I best on the floor, for now?

    Thank you all.

    Yes, Dosho, I will sit with the distractions.

  6. #6

    Re: Sitting flat on the floor

    Hi Amelia,

    There is a clear reason why we use a zafu, or a thick pad...The reason is to raise the hips and relax the belly area. The breathing flow is easier and flowing. The body feels more grounded, rooted . The key is to find the right thickness which can range from a few centimeters to real big bulging stuff. It is very different for everybody. For now, you may drop your idea about this and that and just experiment wit cushions and pillow and use different thickness to really feel what is more suitable. When the zazfu is properly positionned under the buttocks, at and angle, the general sitting becomes so free. Do you have skype? If you wish we could talk about it and I could show you.

    gassho


    Taigu

  7. #7
    disastermouse
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    Re: Sitting flat on the floor

    I've tried sitting a few different ways, but I find cross-legged on a zafu (for many years my 'zafu' was just folded up pillows) most natural. A bench allows me to sit longer without my legs going numb, but I feel rather less planted that way.

    I'd be interested to see what your posture looks like when sitting flat. There's a difficult to describe triangular solidity that occurs when your butt is elevated, pushing down into your legs and knees into the floor (or zabuton). Even sitting with a 'prop' under one knee (because my flexibility is insufficient) allows it to come about.

    As Dosho advises, it may be helpful to examine your resistance and try it the 'usual way' a bit more before deferring to your preferences - it may just 'click' for you.

    Chet

  8. #8
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: Sitting flat on the floor

    I've always had kapok-filled zafus, but I've seen some filled with buckwheat. Does anyone have any thoughts on the latter, why it would be more or less comfortable? I actually sleep with a buckwheat-filled pillow; I found this about 15 years ago, and, at the time, often had neck pain in the morning. The pillow has removed all the pain.

  9. #9

    Re: Sitting flat on the floor

    quite by accident i threw one zabaton on top of another and use one of those adjustable mountain seats. It has buckwheat and some type of foam on the other side. I thought it might feel like a giant marshmallow sinking down into it. but surprisingly enough it works rather well. You wont notice that feeling of touching the floor, but it allows everything to sink down and does help to free up your breathing.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Sitting flat on the floor

    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc
    I've always had kapok-filled zafus, but I've seen some filled with buckwheat. Does anyone have any thoughts on the latter, why it would be more or less comfortable? I actually sleep with a buckwheat-filled pillow; I found this about 15 years ago, and, at the time, often had neck pain in the morning. The pillow has removed all the pain.
    Hi Kirk,

    I use a buckwheat zafu and have never tried Kapok, though I would imagine them to be very similar. I have also sat on cotton filled, which seemed a lot less firm and slightly more comfortable(to me) than buckwheat. If fact, though I'm not sure of the reason behind it, but it appears that cotton filled are the choice of all the Zen centers which I have been to. Even our beloved Treeleaf Zendo looks as though they use cotton. At least that's what they look like through the webcam.

    Gassho,
    John

  11. #11

    Re: Sitting flat on the floor

    your butt should be higher than your knees, otherwise you risk discomfort and pain to your back.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Nindo's Avatar
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    Re: Sitting flat on the floor

    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc
    I've always had kapok-filled zafus, but I've seen some filled with buckwheat. Does anyone have any thoughts on the latter, why it would be more or less comfortable?
    I find kapok too soft. I would need a huge kapok filled zafu to make me comfortable (for height). My buckwheat cushion feels more firm, while still adjusting to my body. I use it upright standing on its edge.

    I think you are supposed to change the filling every couple of years, but have not done so yet. I got it in 2004.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: Sitting flat on the floor

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    There is a clear reason why we use a zafu, or a thick pad...The reason is to raise the hips and relax the belly area. The breathing flow is easier and flowing. The body feels more grounded, rooted . The key is to find the right thickness which can range from a few centimeters to real big bulging stuff. It is very different for everybody. For now, you may drop your idea about this and that and just experiment wit cushions and pillow and use different thickness to really feel what is more suitable. When the zazfu is properly positionned under the buttocks, at and angle, the general sitting becomes so free.
    As you suggested, I played around with different blanket and pillow arrangements, trying to find the right kind of height. My "sweet spot" seems to be very particular, so what ended up feeling best was a complicated stack of two pillows folded under me, and then another pillow flat underneath my knees, I guess like a "mountain seat." I might prefer that type, because my knees don't seem to come to rest on the floor quite right, without something under them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    Do you have skype? If you wish we could talk about it and I could show you.
    I have a Skype account, but my boyfriend set it up and I have not used it or explored it yet-- I am really grateful for that video you posted, which I will be watching today.

    As I get to better understand my Skype account, I will start to show up for Skype stuff and in the sitting hall, because I just got a webcam.

    Thank you, Taigu.

    _/_

    ---

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    I'd be interested to see what your posture looks like when sitting flat.
    I think I can produce a fairly good posture, but I don't have enough experience with the elevated position to know the difference well enough. I have been sitting flat on the floor to meditate since I started practicing yoga a few years ago, so now I am going to get my body into the habit of sitting on something.

  14. #14

    Re: Sitting flat on the floor

    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc
    I've always had kapok-filled zafus, but I've seen some filled with buckwheat. Does anyone have any thoughts on the latter, why it would be more or less comfortable? I actually sleep with a buckwheat-filled pillow; I found this about 15 years ago, and, at the time, often had neck pain in the morning. The pillow has removed all the pain.
    I'm also a buckwheat user and haven't tried kapok. I also have a fairly thin cotton filled Indian floor cushion that I put on my zabuton for sitting sometimes. With my back, sometimes I need firm (buckwheat), adjustable, and higher from the floor, and sometimes I need soft but not so soft or low that I feel like I'm sitting flat on the ground (cotton). Sitting flat on the floor is extremely uncomfortable for me, so I go with variety based on pain management level of the day. Like I posted elsewhere, I'm going to end up needing some sort of bench or do chair meditation.

  15. #15
    disastermouse
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    Re: Sitting flat on the floor

    The mountain seat allowed a tallish, inflexible weightlifter such as myself to sit half-lotus again - at least it did before the crash.

    Chet

  16. #16
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: Sitting flat on the floor

    I sat for about forty-five minutes, and it was a struggle. My back is simply not used to the angle. It wasn't until the very end of the sit that I started to get a bit more relaxed and confident. It will get better.

  17. #17
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: Sitting flat on the floor

    Quote Originally Posted by Nindo
    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc
    I've always had kapok-filled zafus, but I've seen some filled with buckwheat. Does anyone have any thoughts on the latter, why it would be more or less comfortable?
    I find kapok too soft. I would need a huge kapok filled zafu to make me comfortable (for height). My buckwheat cushion feels more firm, while still adjusting to my body. I use it upright standing on its edge.

    I think you are supposed to change the filling every couple of years, but have not done so yet. I got it in 2004.
    But what I don't get is how the buckwheat stays in such a way as to maintain thickness. My buckwheat pillow is like water inside a big, in a way (just with bigger bits than H20 molecules).

  18. #18
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: Sitting flat on the floor

    I think half of the problem has been that I have tried to practice in shorts these past couple of days-- because of the heat. When I sat with long pants on today, it was much more comfortable. Most of my discomfort in the raised position comes from my ankles pulling down at the skin on my thighs.

  19. #19
    Senior Member murasaki's Avatar
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    Re: Sitting flat on the floor

    I sit on a thick, folded blanket because my legs fall asleep much more (and faster) when I am too high up. I know we are supposed to not mind the pins and needles, but it seems to get very bad for me, almost painful. I suspect I don't have good circulation in my body. I find that some elevation is good, so I am glad to see that that is confirmed here.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: Sitting flat on the floor

    I seem to be treating this thread as a kind of meditation diary for this week, but I really have been studying my sitting.

    Today I realized that I keep having this problem of my eyes feeling really heavy like I could nod off to sleep. The only thing that seems to help is to raise my gaze higher. Closing my eyes feels like it helps, but then my body will sometimes feel like it is jerking out of sleep, even if I don't feel like I am falling asleep. I guess I could cut off my eyelids...

    I think my gaze needs to be high for me not to get sleepy. My legs are feeling much more comfortable, and my back is getting used to resisting the arch. I still can't settle like I used to for some reason, so I am painfully aware of everything going on for the whole sit, but I stick with it, because I know it will probably stop in a few days.

  21. #21
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: Sitting flat on the floor

    Quote Originally Posted by Amelia
    I sat for about forty-five minutes, and it was a struggle. My back is simply not used to the angle. It wasn't until the very end of the sit that I started to get a bit more relaxed and confident. It will get better.
    How long do you typically sit for? I don't usually go longer than 30-35 minutes, usually breaking it into two segments with either a 5 or 10 minute kinhin inbetween if I have an hour.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  22. #22
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: Sitting flat on the floor

    My sits vary between about 10-sometimes even an hour with small interruptions. I just don't usually do it every day. I'm trying to do it every day now.

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