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Thread: the truth about posture ( there is no posture)

  1. #1

    the truth about posture ( there is no posture)

    OK guys, I have found this vid which says it all. Every word is in harmony with what I understand of Zen practice. Please be patient and listen to what this guy says, the presentation is boring, the reading very repetitive, what he says is priceless. Every point is a real treasure. I wish more people would be ready to question their sitting and being habits, for once you do it you are ready to live an amazing adventure, the journey of living, never the same, always fresh and new. Not interfering is the key and the challenge. I do it all the time, at least, since meeting my teacher Chodo Cross, I see it. And seing how I mess it up is really priceless.

    gassho

    Taigu

    [youtube] [/youtube]

  2. #2

    Re: the truth about posture ( there is no posture)

    Cool. Maybe alexander was an undercover zen master.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Koshin's Avatar
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    Re: the truth about posture ( there is no posture)

    It´s strange how lately all things come together....I read something about Alexander Technique many many years ago (before Internet :shock: ) and I found it very interesting, but here in Mexico City such kind of classes or teachers are very rare, hard to find or very expensive....now, so many years later, I find it´s somehow related to Zazen, the thing that makes most sense to me in the world.... related to Zazen as almost everything that really made me sense when I was so much younger, when I was so much curious and open minded, things that I forgot all this time. Maybe there is a time where things just fall under its own weight and we are ready to start the path of Zen....

    Thankyou Taigu.

    Gassho

    PS: I wish I was able to express my ideas, English is not my native language ops:

  4. #4

    Re: the truth about posture ( there is no posture)

    8) thankyou Taigu


    Gassho


    Willow

  5. #5

    Re: the truth about posture ( there is no posture)

    Thank you for sharing, Taigu.

    Gassho,

    Lu

  6. #6

    Re: the truth about posture ( there is no posture)

    simple
    thX Taigu

    gassho
    gilles

  7. #7

    Re: the truth about posture ( there is no posture)

    There is nothing more difficult than simplicity: undoing bad habits, allowing the fluid and natutal movement of the body without interfering, not being fooled by misperception, staying in this dynamic no-posture...this is so hard. That's why we are eager to find tricks, to print recipes, to give the unknown reference points.

    take care


    gassho


    Taigu

  8. #8

    Re: the truth about posture ( there is no posture)

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    There is nothing more difficult than simplicity: undoing bad habits, allowing the fluid and natutal movement of the body without interfering, not being fooled by misperception, staying in this dynamic no-posture...this is so hard. That's why we are eager to find tricks, to print recipes, to give the unknown reference points.

    take care


    gassho


    Taigu
    oh yes!
    thX taigu

    gassho
    gilles

  9. #9
    Senior Member Marek's Avatar
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    Re: the truth about posture ( there is no posture)

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    There is nothing more difficult than simplicity
    So true !

    Thank You, Taigu.

    _/_

  10. #10
    Senior Member Koshin's Avatar
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    Re: the truth about posture ( there is no posture)

    That´s right...and we fool ourselves training us in life with bad habits, making so simple being difficult .....anyway, thanks again Taigu, I am already looking for an Alexander Technique teacher because of my back pain due to my really bad posture at standing, walking, working...sitting :wink:

    Gassho

  11. #11

    Re: the truth about posture ( there is no posture)

    Regardless of presentation gems in every bit of that, thank you!
    I sat listening to my self try to force a breath through my now-closed throat when butchering the Heart Sutra through a strained voice when doing the Zazenkai and other things too.
    Lots to undo here!

    Gassho
    Shohei

    "Alignment is for cars, we're organic"

  12. #12

    Re: the truth about posture ( there is no posture)

    Some definite jewels in there. I especially liked the statement "We are after harmony, not symmetry."

    I have found my AT lessons, in a word, liberating. Thanks for sharing Taigu.

    Gassho,

    Dokan

  13. #13
    Senior Member Nenka's Avatar
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    Re: the truth about posture ( there is no posture)

    I received the Body, Breath & Being book in the mail yesterday. Interesting! I've been going around paying attention to how I usually walk and sit, taking note of where I hold tension, how I favor my left leg, all kinds of stuff. I look forward to practicing the exercises and maybe find a teacher, if I can. I also hope I can get my husband to do this. I don't know what it is, but he has a lot of back and neck problems (doctors and physical therapy have not proved very helpful.)

    Gassho

    Jen

  14. #14

    Re: the truth about posture ( there is no posture)

    Thank you, Taigu for this.

    Is there any Buddhist culture that has been more obsessed with "correct" posture than Japan? It's interesting that your views seem so contrary to much of what comes out of the Japanese Zen tradition. Thinking of Shujin's recent encounter with the kyosaku "correction," compared with Jundo's experience with the comparatively "anything goes" sitting attitude of the Chinese Ch'an monasteries and my wife's similar experience at a Korean Son center.

    Also interesting that dharma heirs of the same ancestor can have such different views! i.e. Brad Warner with his correct-posture-is-everything, lotus-is-essential view, and your and Jundo's more harmonic approach.

    Not sure where I'm going with this, ha! Just trying to reconcile all the contrasting elements with respect to my own practice. Anyway, thank you again for this teaching.

    _/_

  15. #15

    Re: the truth about posture ( there is no posture)

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaishin
    Also interesting that dharma heirs of the same ancestor can have such different views! i.e. Brad Warner with his correct-posture-is-everything, lotus-is-essential view, and your and Jundo's more harmonic approach.
    Ha! Piano students of the same piano teacher, as they mature and come to find their own sound, need not play Brahms exactly the same way as each other or their Teacher. Heck, some may eventually prefer a bit jazzier sound, some Jerry Lee, some punk rock! (Do they play pianos much in punk? :? ) Somewhat different intonations, fingering, somewhat different flavor or emphasis, harmony and disharmony, varying degrees of following or breaking musical tradition and "the rules".

    However, all the same piano, same 88 keys, same notes and chords. Hopefully all good music. 8)

    As with Brahms, so Buddha. That's how Buddhism through the ages has been as varied as the history of music.

    Gassho, J

  16. #16

    Re: the truth about posture ( there is no posture)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Quote Originally Posted by Kaishin
    Also interesting that dharma heirs of the same ancestor can have such different views! i.e. Brad Warner with his correct-posture-is-everything, lotus-is-essential view, and your and Jundo's more harmonic approach.
    Ha! Piano students of the same piano teacher, as they mature and come to find their own sound, need not play Brahms exactly the same way as each other or their Teacher. ...
    By the way, someone just wrote me to say that Kaishin's description of Brad's take on the Lotus Sutra is not really right anyway. I knew that too, and I should have mentioned it. Here are some things Brad writes on his blog ...

    Those kneeling chairs they make for people who work on computers all day can be modified to make a decent compromise. Because it's not really about how you screw up your legs. You don't have to sit in the full lotus position (I predict in the future at least 27 more people will say, "Brad Warner says you have to sit in the full lotus position" even after I say you don't 39 more times). It's just that the full lotus position creates a really, really stable base for the spine. There is a very good reason it's been a favorite for around 3000 years. Still, there may be other slightly less efficient but still acceptable ways to get the spine to balance.

    ...

    You don't have to do the full lotus posture. Let me say that again since everyone seems to miss it when I say it:

    You don't have to do the full lotus posture.

    But you do need to be sitting on a cushion with your knees on the floor. Sometimes you can put extra cushions under your knees. You can also use a seiza bench, although I'm not the biggest fan of those. But that can be zazen too.

    If someone really cannot do anything closer to zazen than sitting on a chair, well then that's shoganai too. They can sit on a chair. Tonen O'Connor, of the Milwaukee Zen Center is one of the best zazen teachers in America. She's had extensive knee surgery and she sits on a bench that's been modified to give her something close to the traditional posture (it's not a chair, though). But she's a special case. Maybe you are too. I don't know.

    I do know this, though. I'll whisper it since it tends to make people mad when I say it.

    (Sitting on a cushion with your knees on the ground is not that hard.)

    http://hardcorezen.blogspot.com/2011/11 ... ne_12.html

  17. #17
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: the truth about posture ( there is no posture)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    (Sitting on a cushion with your knees on the ground is not that hard.)
    Yea, Brad, tell me about it. When you have arthritis, come back and say that.

  18. #18

    Re: the truth about posture ( there is no posture)

    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc
    When you have arthritis, come back and say that.
    :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

    thank you Taigu for sharing this very inspiring video...
    But like a lot of things... we, at least I, have difficulties facing simplicity... to accept that "it is just that"... or it is?

    a bit our of the subject again...

    Have a very very nice day everyone!
    deep deep gassho,

    Jinyu

  19. #19

    Re: the truth about posture ( there is no posture)

    Hi there,

    Warner writes - in the referenced blog post,

    'If you really honest to goodness need to sit on a chair you'll have to work a lot harder at zazen than those who sit on cushions on the floor.'

    I'd really like to know if that is demonstably the case? But perhaps we'll have to wait 'till the neuroscientists wire everybody up and observe whether
    the input of a disabled person/compared to the input of an able-bodied person (practicing in 'perfect full-lotus posture' ) - is greater/requires more 'effort' (by that do we read mental effort) to achieve the same result ...... or will the result be wildly different (possibly inferior in outcome)?

    The problem I have with Warner's writing (on this subject - I do enjoy some of his other writing) is not what he says (though I feel his stance is a bit problematic) but how he says it. There's innuendo about people being too lazy (hey - do you really need that chair?) etc,etc. Of course - this style of writing is meant to be sardonic, amusing - but it doesn't necessarily inform.

    In the trail of literature that finally led me to Zazen I first happened to read a book by Saki Santorelli (a co-worker of Jon Kabat-Zinn) who teaches mindfullness
    techniques within health care. The practice may not be 'pure' zazen - but it has zazen woven through it - and touches the lives of individuals who are simply too sick to practice in a rigorous way. And..... then again - perhaps it is zazen?

    What I find confusing is that in some of the literature on Zen there seems to be a fear of 'dilution' of the practice of zazen - that's laced through with a contrary requirement for political correctness - and (one hopes) a genuine desire to 'outreach'.

    I would much rather teachers didn't sit on the fence, regarding the above, because it gives out a mixed message. Warner obviously has doubts about the quality of results that can be gained the further the goal posts are moved. I feel it would be better if he just stated this and left all the innuendo out. I can understand (possibly respect) a straight view - even if it's not my view.

    Jundo - your view (and Taigu's) has grace and openess within it - but sometimes it's difficult for a beginner to put all the different views and styles of delivery together and make sense of it. :?

    I would appreciate your clarifying whether you agree with the statement that a person not sitting on the cushion has to work harder - and if so - in what way?


    Gassho

    Willow

  20. #20
    Senior Member Daijo's Avatar
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    Re: the truth about posture ( there is no posture)

    Perhaps, (and only perhaps as I do not know the man) Brad is speaking directly to those of us who are too "lazy". There are without a doubt those of us "on the chair" who could very well be "on the cushion". Since Warner's style tends to be to push buttons, maybe he's pushing theirs directly. Just a thought.

  21. #21

    Re: the truth about posture ( there is no posture)

    Sitting on a cushion in full lotus, half lotus, burmese, sitting on a bench, a chair... all this is equally sitting.
    People making fuss and throwing that this is better than that have certainly a good reason to do so,
    I have no good reason.
    In my Zendo, people sit. On whatever they feel good. And I am not going to throw another reason to say this is better, this guy is good enough, that guy has to work harder.
    Capitalism in the heart of Buddhism?
    You are kidding...

    My final take.
    My take. Not the truth. What 35 years of sitting might do to a dull head like mine.


    In true Brad's style: fu.. . you , in my style, whoever you are: bless you.


    gassho


    Taigu

  22. #22
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: the truth about posture ( there is no posture)

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    In true Brad's style: fu.. . you , in my style, whoever you are: bless you.
    +1

  23. #23

    Re: the truth about posture ( there is no posture)

    Quote Originally Posted by willow

    Jundo - your view (and Taigu's) has grace and openess within it - but sometimes it's difficult for a beginner to put all the different views and styles of delivery together and make sense of it. :?

    I would appreciate your clarifying whether you agree with the statement that a person not sitting on the cushion has to work harder - and if so - in what way?


    Gassho

    Willow
    Hi Willow,

    Hmmm. I will venture a good guess where Bro. Brad is coming from on such a statement.

    My teacher, Nishijima Roshi, is of the opinion that sitting in the Lotus Position by itself, straightening the spine, works a physiological effect that balances the mind and carries through one's day and life ... which he calls "balance of the autonomic nervous system." In fact, Nishijima believes that this is at the very heart of the effect of Zazen.

    Nishijima Roshi used to be a runner. He often compares the experience of balance and oneness experienced in running to the sense of peace/balance/wholeness/oneness that is often experienced in Zazen. Nishijima Roshi came to attribute this in significant part to the physiological effect of the sitting posture itself. Here is a sample of Roshi's writing on the subject:

    In Zazen we sit on a cushion on the floor with both legs crossed, and with our lower spine, upper spine, and head held straight vertically. Keeping the spine straight has a direct and immediate effect on the autonomic nervous system that controls many of our body’s functions. Its effects include control of heart rate and force of contraction, constriction and dilatation of blood vessels, contraction and relaxation of smooth muscle in various organs, the ability to focus the eyes and the size of the pupils, and the secretion of hormones from various glands directly into the blood stream.

    The autonomic nervous system is composed of two subsystems: the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous systems. When the sympathetic nervous system is stimulated, our heart rate increases, arteries and veins constrict, the lungs relax, and our pupils dilate; in short, we become tense and alert. When the parasympathetic nervous system is stimulated, the opposite happens; our heart rate decreases, arteries and veins dilate, the lungs contract, and the pupils constrict. You can see that the two systems prepare the body for an active or passive response sometimes known as the “fight or flight” syndrome. When the effect of the two systems on the organs is in balance, we are neither ready to fight, nor ready to run away; we are in a normal state.

    The parasympathetic nerves emerge from the spinal chord at the base of the spine (the second, third and fourth sacral vertebrae) and through the cranial vertebrae in the neck, whereas the sympathetic nerves emerge from the spinal chord through the middle vertebrae in the back (the T1 to L2 vertebrae). Keeping the spine normally upright, with the head sitting squarely on the top of the vertebral column minimizes the compression of the nerves of these two systems at the points where the nerves emerge through the vertebrae, and ensures an uninterrupted supply of blood, allowing them to function normally. When the parasympathetic and sympathetic systems are both working normally, they function in opposition to give us a state of balance of body-and-mind; not too tense, and not too relaxed, not overly optimistic or pessimistic; not too aggressive and not too passive. It is this physical state of balance in the autonomic nervous system that give rise to what we call a balanced body-and-mind.

    In addition to this, sitting in the upright posture, where the force of gravity acts down through the spine onto the pelvis, is a position in which our body’s reflexes can work efficiently to integrate the functioning of the whole body.

    (p 11-12 here)
    http://www.holybooks.com/wp-content/upl ... -Zazen.pdf
    Personally I, as do about all Zen folks, believe that a balanced and stable posture does aid in allowing a balanced and stable mind ... as body-mind are intimately connected and whole. I also feel that Nishijima Roshi was decades ahead in realizing that Zazen does have a neuro-physiological component which science is just coming to recognize (through placing meditating monks in MRI machines and other testing). Much of Roshi's assertions are based on the writings of Karl Menninger, Herbert Benson and others, and have a solid basis. However, I believe that Nishijima Roshi's theories on the marvelous effects of sitting in Lotus Posture itself with a straight spine ... while having some such basis, and while a balanced posture is certainly important ...were perhaps stretched by him rather too far into areas where there is really no scientific backing, or where scientific data is directly contradicting some of what he says.

    When Brad emphasizes in what he wrote the effect of keeping the spine straight, perhaps the connection is that?

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-15-2013 at 03:04 PM.

  24. #24
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: the truth about posture ( there is no posture)

    My opinion is that keeping the spine "straight" - it's not actually straight, as in a straight line - is very important, as Nishijima Roshi says. And I think being vertical does make a difference from lying down. But it's interesting to note that you don't do an MRI with someone sitting or standing; they have to be lying down. So any data coming from such scans are about people in a horizontal position.

    Perhaps in fact part of what allows us to sit "well" or not has something to do with how well are spines are in the correct positions (ie, not straight, but "straight." Perhaps on those days when we're in a less efficient position, our sitting is, well, less efficient, and other days when we have more energy, our sitting is deeper...?

    I do not see, however, any reason why one has to sit in lotus position to keep the spine "straight." I think any correct sitting position can do that.

    (My personal 2 cents.)

  25. #25

    Re: the truth about posture ( there is no posture)

    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc
    My opinion is that keeping the spine "straight" - it's not actually straight, as in a straight line - is very important, as Nishijima Roshi says.
    Hey Kirk,

    Well, I also feel that keeping the spine balanced is very conducive to Zazen. However, I do not believe in the rigid way of stretching and holding the spine emphasized by many in Japan, and much more appreciate Taigu's literal and figurative "flexibility" on the topic. 8)

    Also, I do not think that the effect of a straight spine is as all-powerful and all-encompassing as Nishijima Roshi makes it, that it is the central key to Zazen, or that the physiological system works quite as he describes it. There are also other elements to sitting Shikantaza, besides the physical posture, that are not to be neglected ... as I touched on in my most recent sit-a-long talk ...

    Posture, breath, not grabbing onto or stirring up thoughts, living by the Precepts ... all are vital to our Way. Yet, neither are they sufficient. Zazen is not some "method", some "process" or "recipe". There is no "method" for there is "no goal" or destination!

    Why?

    By sitting the Wholly Holy Whole without need for change ... there is thus the most radical change of no longer wishing for change or needing change amid the every changing changeless ... thereby Shikantaza is the perfect medicine for the dis-ease and dis-satisfaction of Dukkha.

    SHIKANTAZA MUST BE SAT AS THE ONE AND ONLY PRACTICE NEEDED AND ALL COMPLETED.

    viewtopic.php?f=17&t=4665
    In my viewless view, that is the True Magic of this practice ... and posture is but one important, helping aspect of the whole picture. But if in traction in a hospital bed or in a wheelchair ... with a bent spine or broken spine ... just sit as such ... JUST SIT AS WHAT IS. Such is the REAL POWER of this Way.

    Gassho, J

  26. #26

    Re: the truth about posture ( there is no posture)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    SHIKANTAZA MUST BE SAT AS THE ONE AND ONLY PRACTICE NEEDED AND ALL COMPLETED.

    In my viewless view, that is the True Magic of this practice ... and posture is but one important, helping aspect of the whole picture.
    _/_

    Jinyu

  27. #27

    Re: the truth about posture ( there is no posture)

    For me, it's about letting go, letting be. I like how the lotus position lets me do that, gives me the necessary trust and confidence to leave my body and mind to do their own thing, Zazen to do Zazen as Kodo Sawaki Roshi said, not my ego trying to do Zazen. I find it easier to let go in lotus, to drop body and mind. But other positions aren't bad, they are just different, they are what they are. If I wanted to sit more comfortably, I'd go for Burmese without hesitation. But I don't have arthritis and I'm flexible, so why not sit lotus? If I were in it only for special states of mind, I'd think lotus was a little better. But we're not, are we? Isn't practice also about incorporating Zazen in everyday life? If we can truly let go and allow thoughts to come and go naturally when sitting Zazen in a chair, or when standing, lying down or walking, then maybe we can more easily do the same in everyday life? It's like sound. I find it easier to sit in a silent room, but recently I've found that sitting with the kid making noise nearby isn't worse, it's just different. Same practice.

    Gassho,
    Pontus

  28. #28

    Re: the truth about posture ( there is no posture)

    'Capitalism in the heart of Buddhism?'

    Thankyou for your reply Taigu - I will remember that phrase.

    .... and the blessing too.

    Jundo - thanks also. I can see, given the background - where Warner is coming from. A difference of opinion and emphasis,
    but I much prefer your take.

    I haven't read Nishijima so I'm reluctant to comment - but
    I can't quite connect to his view of the fear/flight mechanism. I think a lot of research is being done on the role of the Amygdala
    concerning this, which has a different emphasis?

    Do you have a link for Menniger (I can only find one for a psychiatrist by that name?)

    Gassho

    Willow

  29. #29
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: the truth about posture ( there is no posture)

    Not a true fan of Brad's by the way; there is no need to sink to his level of language, or attitude for that matter. I tend to go with Chuck on this. I feel a lot of his bluster is for shock effect. Knowing what i do about the human body, my votes with Jundo http://www.treeleaf.org/forum/viewto...&t=4673#p69910 I agree that Nishijima was far ahead of his time but, even Einstein realized there was something missing. Unfortunately, from what i hear, the Roshi may not be able to comprehend or properly appreciate what today's scientific view is.

  30. #30

    Re: the truth about posture ( there is no posture)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo

    By the way, someone just wrote me to say that Kaishin's description of Brad's take on the Lotus Sutra is not really right anyway.
    I stand (sit?) corrected!

    Not sure why the person didn't just tell me directly though... :?: :?: :?:

  31. #31

    Re: the truth about posture ( there is no posture)

    Quote Originally Posted by willow
    Do you have a link for Menniger (I can only find one for a psychiatrist by that name?)
    Yes, that is the fellow, and Nishijima Roshi was very influenced by some of his books on a balanced life written in the 1950's. However, I should have mentioned more directly the research on meditation by Dr. Herbert Benson (although, as you will note in the interview, Benson does not particularly attribute the effect to sitting posture or the spine) ...

    Herbert Benson, MD, is the father of modern mind-body medicine. From the late 1960s onward, Dr. Benson’s breakthrough research at Harvard Medical School has demonstrated that the relaxation response, which can be elicited through a variety of methods including meditation, is the physiological counterpoint to the fight-or-flight response and serves as a natural antidote to stress. Numerous markers including metabolic rate, heart rate and blood pressure are increased by stress and decreased by the relaxation response. Benson continues to lead research into its basic physiology and efficacy in counteracting the harmful effects of stress.

    ...

    [INTERVIEW]:

    What we found was that when people practiced Transcendental Meditation (TM), there were a set of profound physiologic changes that were opposite to those of stress. Namely, decreased metabolism, decreased blood pressure, decreased heart rate, decreased rate of breathing, and also slower brain waves. These findings were performed at Harvard Medical School in the late 1960s, in the very laboratory in which Walter B. Cannon had defined the fight-orflight response back in the early 20th century, where he found increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, increased rate of breathing, increased blood flow to the muscles, and called it “fight-or-flight,” or emergency response. ...


    It is elicited by using two steps. The first is a repetition, which could be a word, a sound, a prayer, a phrase or even a repetitive movement. The second step is, when other thoughts came to mind, you disregard them and come back to the repetition. This would bring forth the same physiologic changes that were brought about by the practice of Transcendental Meditation. The importance of this was that, again, for millennia people have been bringing forth a response opposite to the stress response, that has therapeutic value in disorders caused or exacerbated by stress.

    We recognized the importance of this immediately. We recognized that what we were doing was putting numbers on what people had been doing for thousands of years, be it through yoga, meditation, repetitive prayer, tai chi, qigong, jogging, knitting, crocheting. it didn’t matter. There was one response brought forth by scores of techniques that have a scientific definition for the first time

    ...

    The conditions in which the relaxation response is found to be effective include anxiety, mild
    and moderate depression, and excessive anger and hostility. They are all effectively treated by regularly evoking the relaxation response. It’s very important to note that health and well being is akin to a three-legged stool. One leg is pharmaceuticals. The second leg is surgery and other procedures. There has to be a third leg and that leg is self-care. And within that self-care leg we have the relaxation response, nutrition, exercise, the beliefs of the patient, socialization, and also cognitive restructuring. So you see, when we say that the relaxation response is effective in many mental disorders, it does not preclude, nor is it meant to preclude, the simultaneous use of appropriate medications or surgeries

    ...

    Is the nervous system the primary means through which the effects of relaxation response are mediated?

    It seems to start with the breaking of the train of everyday thought, as I just pointed out. So it would appear that as a fundamental entry point, it is the nervous system. But the breaking of the train of everyday thought needn’t be a mental effect; it could be a physical effect brought about by, say, jogging. Or knitting or crocheting. Are you with me? Ultimately it’s mediated through and by the nervous system.

    http://www.healthinsightstoday.com/arti ... benson.pdf
    More here ...

    http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/usin ... 0101110780

    Gassho, Jundo

    P.S. - Oh, and before someone asks ...

    Do I [Jundo] believe that the full impact of meditation is simply via attaining the "relaxation response"? The answer is "No, I do not." That is one reason that I am somewhat skeptical of attempts ... by Benson, Jon Kabat-Zinn and others ... to teach a kind of stripped down, clinical "mindfulness meditation".

    Why?

    Simply because, without the additional Teachings, Practices and masteries of Buddhist and Zen Wisdom and Compassion ... ranging from piercing Non-self, Impermanence, the causes and workings of Dukkha, Emptiness, living in balance and harmlessness by the Precepts, the poisons of greed anger and ignorance and the rest of the "mind theatre", freedom from excess desire and attachments, Non-attaining, Non-thinking and so much more (all interrelated, by the way) ... one is really leaving out and missing out on the True Fruits of this Way. The "relaxation response" or any such effect of Zazen is just the tip of the iceberg and lacks the real power of the Whole Deal. Zazen/Buddhism is not just some kind of seated valium pill (or as Benson says "knitting or crocheting", as lovely and relaxing as those activities are ), but a total integration with this self-life-world As It Is.

  32. #32
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: the truth about posture ( there is no posture)

    Quote Originally Posted by willow
    Warner writes - in the referenced blog post,

    'If you really honest to goodness need to sit on a chair you'll have to work a lot harder at zazen than those who sit on cushions on the floor.'
    If I remember correctly, in Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, Suzuki Roshi mentions that those who can't or won't sit in full lotus position sometimes have an easier time with zazen because they have already dropped back a bit from perfectionism. Please correct me if I am wrong.

  33. #33

    Re: the truth about posture ( there is no posture)

    Quote Originally Posted by Amelia
    Quote Originally Posted by willow
    Warner writes - in the referenced blog post,

    'If you really honest to goodness need to sit on a chair you'll have to work a lot harder at zazen than those who sit on cushions on the floor.'
    If I remember correctly, in Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, Suzuki Roshi mentions that those who can't or won't sit in full lotus position sometimes have an easier time with zazen because they have already dropped back a bit from perfectionism. Please correct me if I am wrong.
    Perhaps this ... (from p. 38):


    When you are determined to practice zazen with the great
    mind of Buddha, you will find the worst horse is the most
    valuable one. In your very imperfections you will find the
    basis for your firm, way-seeking mind. Those who can sit
    perfectly physically usually take more time to obtain the true
    way of Zen, the actual feeling of Zen, the marrow of Zen.
    But those who find great difficulties in practicing Zen will
    find more meaning in it. So I think that some times the best
    horse may be the worst horse, and the worst horse can be
    the best one.

    If you study calligraphy you will find that those who are
    not so clever usually become the best calligraphers. Those
    who are very clever with their hands often encounter great
    difficulty after they have reached a certain stage. This is also
    true in art and in Zen. It is true in life. So when we talk
    about Zen we cannot say, " He is good," or "He is bad," in
    the ordinary sense of the words. The posture taken in zazen
    is not the same for each of us. For some it may be impossible
    to take the cross-legged posture. But even though you cannot
    take the right posture, when you arouse your real, wayseeking mind,
    you can practice Zen in its true sense. Actually it is easier for
    those who have difficulties in sitting to arouse the true
    way-seeking mind than for those who can sit easily.

    When we reflect on what are doing in our everyday life,
    we are always ashamed of ourselves. One of my students
    wrote to me saying, "You sent me a calendar, and I am
    trying to follow the good mottoes which appear on each
    page. But the year has hardly begun, and already I have
    failed!'' Dogen-zenji said ,' 'Shoshaku jushaku.'' Shaku generally
    means " mistake" or " wrong ." Shoshaku jushaku means " to
    succeed wro ng with wrong ," or one continuous mistake.
    According to Dogen, one continuous mistake can also be
    Zen. A Zen master 's life could be said to be so many years
    of shoshaku jushaku. This means so many years of one
    single-minded effort

    We say, "A good father is not a good father ." Do you
    understand? One who thinks he is a good father is not a
    good father; one who thinks he is a good husband is not a
    good husband. One who thinks he is one of the worst husbands
    may be a good one if he is always trying to be a good
    husband wi th a single-hearted effort. If you find it impossible
    to sit because of some pain or some physical difficulty, then
    you should sit anyway, using a thick cushion or a chair.
    Even though you are the worst horse you will get to the
    marrow of Zen.

  34. #34
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: the truth about posture ( there is no posture)

    Jundo,

    Thank you. That passage is very relevant to me right now.

  35. #35

    Re: the truth about posture ( there is no posture)

    Amelia, Jundo - that was really helpful

    I totally agree that mindful meditation is just the tip of the iceberg.
    As I'm learning - the 'Whole Deal' is so much more :shock:

    Gassho

    Willow

  36. #36
    Senior Member murasaki's Avatar
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    Re: the truth about posture ( there is no posture)

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich
    Cool. Maybe alexander was an undercover zen master.
    Heh, stealth dharma!

    gassho
    Julia

  37. #37

    Re: the truth about posture ( there is no posture)

    Quote Originally Posted by murasaki
    Quote Originally Posted by Rich
    Cool. Maybe alexander was an undercover zen master.
    Heh, stealth dharma!

    gassho
    Julia
    Yea, that's what sitting is all about. Kinda stealthy.

    Been a big fan of Gudo and balanced ANS. Since the first time I read it, it made perfect sense to me. After a year of mostly chair sitting due to knee injury I'm back half lotus twice a day for 20-30 minutes. The important thing is to sit whatever way you can. And if you can't sit lie down.

  38. #38

    Re: the truth about posture ( there is no posture)


  39. #39

    Re: the truth about posture ( there is no posture)

    Quote Originally Posted by tetsugakucha
    Hi !

    here is a little video from another buddhist tradition about posture that can be helpful.
    Actually, my experience is that in Thailand, folks sit either directly on the ground or on very thin, low cushions, unlike the Japanese Soto 'Zafu' which tends to raise us up rather high ...



    Maybe that is why they call Hinayana the "Lesser Vehicle"?? :P (Just kidding. Little Mahayana joke there).

    But in fact, in my experience, the practice in most Mahayana/Chan/Son/Zen temples I have visited in China, Vietnam and Korea is to sit on one rather thin cushion .... although some folks will pile two cushions on top of each other for more height.



    In Japan as well, the Rinzai folks tend to sit on thinner square cushions, although they also may double them up. Here is a photo from the 'official' Japan Rinzai page, although many of the cushions I have seen in China, Vietnam etc. have been even thinner ...



    Me? I prefer a little "lift and height".

    Gassho, J

  40. #40

    Re: the truth about posture ( there is no posture)

    The real reason behind the cushion is...That it is the sole and only way to naturally have a curved spine without tension.
    So...It will be my choice too.
    Thinner or thicker is obviously a question or morphology, asian people have more flexible hips and can more easily sit the full lotus. A bloke like me needs a thick cushion for reasons that speak for themselves.

    By the way and again, more than te thickness of the cushion, what matters is the way you sit on it and you angle it...

    gassho


    Taigu

  41. #41
    Senior Member Daijo's Avatar
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    Re: the truth about posture ( there is no posture)

    My family visits a Chinese monastery often, it's only a couple of miles from our home. They use nice thick cushions as you would find in the Soto tradition. Good thing for me too, because I find that if I sit too close to the floor I cannot hold my position. Especially if I attempt full or half lotus, I absolutely have to have the tail bone raised.

  42. #42

    Re: the truth about posture ( there is no posture)

    I found this old thread by Taigu while looking for something else. Sound familiar? :mrgreen:

    Thank you again, Taigu, for constantly reminding us of this. We seem to need it perennially

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu on 2/23/2011
    Let me again and again repeat a few words of caution: sitting with too much tension and will to be upright is really muscle building. In my modest opinion, the right thing does itself, which means that one grows a zazen like a tree or a plant would grow, slowly expanding, naturally going up. It is much better to start with a fairly relaxed sitting and allow the body-mind to go up rather than freeze the whole thing into a military pose that eventually collapses. Most of the agression that I met in the Zen world came from people sitting like in a soldier parade, chin in and rigid back. This is a tendency that Mike is aware of as I am too. People displaying anger should watch the way they sit, as they get tense they just get the whole picture far worse, thinking that they get it right, do the right thing and so forth they are being a pain to themselves and the world. In other words, yes sitting like a concrete pole is not the gate of ease and joy,it is hell's gate. For twenty years I sat in that style and developped a highly agressive style. Nowadays, I feel sometimes sorry for what I have done and what I have told people. But I also feel very happy to have met this possibility to sit at ease, in a painless and open way, to have really understood how rigid and deluded I am. Investigate your sitting and notice how much you overdo things. That's why Alexander technique is important for me as an eye opener and not a new gimmick. And they are many other ways to look at it. Yoga is great ( but still too much doing...) And the chances are that you are still overdoing it. The level of resistance to what is happening in our life, our resistance Kannon as reality, or our over-enthusiasm to practice everything in the right way...Overdoing. Let's look at it. Please, this is important.

    Correcting somebody's sitting is really the wrong direction ( as it always done in Zendo). To correct one's sitting is the wrong direction ( due to false sensory appreciation ). So what to do? Read and undesrtand Dogen, look at Ryokan playing and sleeping, look at small children or animals and don't worry. Worry no more. The moonlight floods the room, flowers and women are sweet, mud is beautiful too. Worry no more.

    gassho


    Taigu
    viewtopic.php?f=1&t=3475&p=49148

  43. #43

    Re: the truth about posture ( there is no posture)

    Indeed, teachers relentlessly repeat the same things over and over, like old fools mumbling. And, one day, one of us might pick up what they say, look at it, investigate it, bring to life in his or her flesh-bones-marrow-mind. It took me so long to really listen to the voice of my teachers.


    gassho

    Taigu

  44. #44

    Re: the truth about posture ( there is no posture)

    Taigu - sometimes I wish I could let go of the 'investigation' -

    ....feels like so many mind levels to work through, so many resusitations, 'bring to life' attempts ,'til I can reach - and then hold onto -
    my 'flesh-bones-marrow-mind'.

    ....and not there yet - if ever :?:

    Gassho

    Willow

  45. #45

    Re: the truth about posture ( there is no posture)

    Already, Willow, already there.

    gassho


    T.

  46. #46
    Senior Member Koshin's Avatar
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    Re: the truth about posture ( there is no posture)

    Thank you Taigu and Jundo.... I know sometimes it is difficult for us students to really grasp what our teachers say to us (or the things the teachers don´t say :wink: ) ... our little egos get in the way, we question the thing that should be clear to us, and over-simplify the things that maybe require a bit more reflection.... as you say, we are already there, maybe always been.... but we cannot see it yet...

    Thank you for your teachings

    Gassho

  47. #47
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: the truth about posture ( there is no posture)

    Quote Originally Posted by chugai
    :lol:
    Nice one!

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