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Thread: Me and my posture variations during Zazen...help needed...

  1. #1

    Me and my posture variations during Zazen...help needed...

    Hello friends.

    Guess it was already asked here in the forum, though I never saw any *specific* topics on it here.

    Ok, so it's about the physical side of sitting.

    Recently, I've been sitting "kinda of" half-lotus posture. Yes, "kinda of" because I can only do ir with the right foot (nearly the half) of my left thigh. I've been sitting burmese for a while, then I tried this. When it finishes I think: "Ok, so tomorrow it will be a lot easier to do that pose.". But the sad reality is that, the next day, it's very hard to even begin the posture. Seems my legs are even more stiff than yesterday. And I keep trying to find a posture, dangling from one side to another, legs hurting, then I just sit burmese again and get frustrated as I thought I was making some progress.

    And of course, a little time of the session is lost on trying to find the posture and stand still.

    Have you ever experienced this? I know we can do Zazen in a lot of postures. Even burmese is ok, but it seems I am not applying myself to do Zazen. My "conflict" here is that in "Fukanzazengi" Dogen doesn't mention other postures than Half or Full Lotus.

    Then someday I want to do Full Lotus and be confortable into it.

    I've heard about some exercises to stretch and even to "open "the hips. But I see lots of exercises and I'm afraid to begin doing something by myself which - I don't know - can maybe hurt my knee joints or whatever. Also I don't know how much time before Zazen should I do them.

    Is there any trusted exercises you can recommend? Or should I just "insist" in doing my half-lotus and it will settle someday?

    Thanks!
    _/|\_

    Kyōsei

    強 Kyō
    声 Sei

    Namu kie Butsu, Namu kie Ho, Namu kie So.

  2. #2
    Hello,

    Wonderful yoga exercises available from sangha. Meanwhile, shut up and sit down.


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

  3. #3
    Hi Marcos,

    Old Vaudeville joke ...

    Guy goes to a doctor ...

    Patient says: Doctor, Doctor, it hurts when I do this.
    Doctor says: Don't do that.
    We have had several threads on posture. Rule of thumb is to find a posture that is comfortable, feels balanced, and one can forget about. We recommend this book: The Posture of Mediation by Will Johnson (but please also first read this review and some cautions here). He recommends ...

    we each have to experiment with our own self and make small adjustments to find (within certain rules) the posture "right for my particular body" (one size does not fit all). Further, sitting is not rigid and fixed, but always subtly fluid and changing, such that the posture at the start of a sitting period will not be precisely the same as at the end (or on different days!).

    For this reason, the author presents a philosophy of sitting, and a series of exercises, to help each of us find our "sweet spot" (again, a "sweet spot" that is not stagnant, but needs to flow and change even during one sitting period). It is based on finding (1) an alignment of the body (head, neck, spine, buttocks, legs) that is balanced and in line with gravity (2) relaxed, yet (3) resilient. YOU KNOW IT WHEN YOU FEEL IT. Better said ... when the body feels right, and when the body feels balanced and "drops from mind" (becomes no longer a distraction), it probably is right and balanced.
    Also, Taigu's wonderful talks on finding the posture right for you. Here are some threads to look at ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...ns-about-zazen

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...tus-and-ankles

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...l=1#post108531

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...Mudra-question

    And here was some helpful Yoga ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...ght=Yoga+video

    I believe some folks around here have some other Yoga poses they may recommend.

    Gassho, Jundo

    SatToday
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  4. #4
    Hi Marcos,

    I do yoga, but I'm not a teacher, so take my following words with a grain of salt. In my opinion, the most important thing is not achieving the posture of full lotus, but finding a stable, balanced, comfortable way to sit that works for your own body, and allows you to forget your body. Some will disagree with that, and say only lotus is proper, but I think what’s important is to find the position that is right for you, and your particular body.

    Lotus posture is a wonderfully stable posture for meditation if done correctly. It is also a very advanced posture that can be very damaging if done incorrectly! Your hip joint is a ball-and-socket, so it is capable of a wide range of motion, whereas your knee is a hinge. The knee is vulnerable to damage if it is forced into position. The key is opening the hips, and there are positions you can practice to prepare your body to make the lotus posture. I’d recommend these positions (and there are many others) to help work your way toward the lotus position:

    http://www.yogajournal.com/pose/head...-forward-bend/
    http://www.yogajournal.com/pose/bound-angle-pose/
    http://www.yogajournal.com/pose/half...e-fishes-pose/
    http://www.yogajournal.com/pose/cow-face-pose/

    I’d also really recommend working with a real-life yoga teacher if you can. If you are doing yoga on your own, watch videos closely and read up on the various postures before trying them. Be very careful, and don’t force anything or do anything that hurts! Please do not “insist on doing your half-lotus and hope that it will settle someday”, instead work your way to the lotus position gradually. It may take years, and you may never get to full lotus. It’s ok.

    Taigu has wonderful videos here on how to sit:

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/forum...ntaza-by-Taigu

    Be careful, and be kind to your body (practice nonviolence!). Take your time.

    Gassho
    Lisa
    sat today

  5. #5
    Hi Marcos!

    Lisa took the words off of my mouth... er... keyboard!

    Remember that we are not Indian, Chinese or Japanese. Even modern Asian people don't have that elasticity anymore.

    So I strongly suggest you practice yoga. You'll feel great and that elasticity will build OVER YEARS OF PRACTICE. Be patient, diligent and do it everyday.

    If half lotus hurts, go back to Burmese and only do half lotus a couple minutes every other day. When you feel comfortable with that, add a minute more.

    These are the videos I train with:





    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Hondō Kyōnin
    奔道 協忍

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Kyonin View Post
    Remember that we are not Indian, Chinese or Japanese. Even modern Asian people don't have that elasticity anymore.
    Oh, you said it! At least as far as Japan (and much of urban China I think), as folks have switched to a "chair" culture in place of a floor sitting culture more and more ... and especially as they abandon some very traditional ways of sitting such as this "squat" which many folks here ... even young folks ... can hold for long long minutes ...



    ... they are becoming less flexible. Most of the Japanese folks who come to Zen groups like ours in Japan struggle with the Zafu and cross legs (cannot get their knees to the floor, feel uncomfortable after a time), just as Westerners. On the other hand, most are not yet as fat and "thunder thighed" as many fat westerners, so they do tend to find it easier on that scale. Frankly, were it not for my constant diet regime, I would start to feel like this fellow ...



    I have written before about what I feel is a bit of a "fetish" and over-emphasis on the Lotus Posture in Japan as opposed to other Buddhist countries. Here is what I usually say ...

    There may be something special about the Lotus, but I think there are actually many balanced postures and most of the differences would be just psychological. One can sit in a chair, in Seiza with a bench, etc. if one needs. Perhaps there is some wondrous physiological effect from the Full Lotus not available in other positions, but I think it is of minor difference even if so, and a bit of self-convincing.

    I have written in the past about how the Japanese, compared to other Buddhists in Asia, fetishize the Lotus a bit. Much of that is cultural, as Japan is rather more focused on attaining "THE proper" form in many activities than other folks.

    More on this here:

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...l=1#post113821
    Gassho, Jundo

    SatToday
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-16-2015 at 02:43 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  7. #7
    Thunder thighed?
    I resemble that!
    Rodney SatToday


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

    Banto (aka Rodney)
    万磴 (Myriad StoneSteps)

  8. #8
    Kyonin, thank you for posting those videos. I need to make my legs more flexible, I can barely sit in half lotus as it is.

    Sat today

  9. #9
    Hey Lisa, Kyonin and Jundo. Thank you for all advices.

    Thanks for that I've recently started Yoga classes here near my house.

    I've started recently, but I'm starting to feel benefits, as to be on Burmese more than a half hour feeling less pain in my legs, sometimes I feel no pain at all, though sometimes my legs "sleeps".

    There was a day I felt like I was really grounded. It was a great feeling of stability, and my Zazen was very "enjoyable" that day. Hope it becomes more and more usual to me.

    Thanks again.
    _/|\_

    Kyōsei

    強 Kyō
    声 Sei

    Namu kie Butsu, Namu kie Ho, Namu kie So.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Marcos View Post
    ... sometimes I feel no pain at all, though sometimes my legs "sleeps".

    There was a day I felt like I was really grounded. It was a great feeling of stability, and my Zazen was very "enjoyable" that day. Hope it becomes more and more usual to me.

    Thanks again.
    Hi Marcos,

    A couple of points. First, if you legs are "falling asleep", this may be the way you are sitting on the cushion, and pressure on the sciatic nerve. See here:

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...l=1#post148838

    Next, Shikantaza Zazen is a (Big J) "Joy" and (Big S) "Stability" in life that surpasses any momentary feeling of enjoyment and stability. It is a "Joy" that holds all human joy and sadness, excitement and boredom, sickness and health, etc. etc. Shikantaza is a Peace and Wholeness that envelops all life's broken pieces. So, this sitting is far beyond merely sitting to feel a certain way. Shikantaza reaches to the existential root of human dissatisfaction and suffering in life, and not simply some passing pleasures or calm or peace or being "in the zone" etc. (a needle of opiates will do a much better job at delivering momentary peace and pleasure if that is what one seeks).

    Sometimes say stuff like this ...

    It is a a kind of Positive (Big "P") that holds, dances and flowers as all the small human moments of positive and negative, smiles and tears, safety and distress. One need not even feel happy all the time, and there is a certain "Positive" as one sits broken hearted next to the casket of someone loved. It is a Peace that holds peace and war, all the round and sharp pieces of life. No need to feel merely "peaceful" all the time. My Teacher, Nishijima, and countless other Buddhist teachers, say that Buddhism is a positive, even "optimistic" philosophy (despite all the talk of "suffering", the real focus is not that ... but "Liberation"). When we drop thoughts and selfish judgments and appraisals, what remains is ... not an empty nihilistic nothing, not directionless chaos, not greyness, not darkness ... but peace, freedom and fertile possibility! Not an empty hole ... there is Wholeness. Even a Wholly Holy Wholeness.

    An old Zen saying ... "Every day is a good day" ... 日々是好日 ...

    There is something about this reality that is Positive, not negative, not positive, going in the direction all needs to go, so Beautiful ... even though ugly sometimes. It is a Beauty encountered when we drop all small human judgments and demands of "beautiful" (small 'b') and ugly. Thus, we sit in the Wholeness of Shikantaza.

    ...

    So hard for us to realize that this is Buddha, that is Buddha, quiet is Buddha, noise is Buddha, coming is Buddha, going is Buddha, thoughts are Buddha, absence of thoughts are Buddha, peace is Buddha, anger is Buddha, stillness is Buddha, movement is Buddha, alive is Buddha, dead is Buddha. Buddha is not simply silence and stillness. We simply sit because, in the day to day clutter and confusion of our minds, a space for a bit of silence and stillness may help us better realize such fact when we drop all the cutter and confusion for a time. But the point is not that the silence and stillness of sitting is "where its at", because our way is to "non-find" (because always present in the bones even though rarely seen) a Silence and Stillness (Big "S") that --is-- and always has been the clutter and silence and peace and chaos and confusion and stillness. Both peace and anger are Buddha, but anger blinds us to such fact because so divisive! As well, peace can hide Buddha too if we think that is the only place Buddha is to be found.

    The eye and everything the eye sees is Eye all along. True Peace is peace and tumult and all the round and sharp pieces of life.

    ...

    The True Piece of Shikantaza is a Peace so Peaceful, a Beauty so Beautiful, that it sweeps in and out the peaceful moments and the sharp pieces of life, the beautiful and ugly to the human eye. The Silence is so Silent, that it hold the chirps of the birds, breeze in the branches, cannons and bulldozers.
    Clear?

    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  11. #11
    Thank you Jundo,

    When I said "my legs fell asleep" it only does happen after a while, not always, and I rapidly recover from it (sometimes using the "techniques" you've mentioned on the link you've posted). Maybe never the two at the same time, but the one which is more "folded" (the one nearest to my pelvis), but as soon as I unfold it it recover almost immediately.

    But thank you again, something I see that is very touching here is the care the teacher(s) and members have to preserve other member's health.

    And thanks again for the teachings.

    _/\_
    _/|\_

    Kyōsei

    強 Kyō
    声 Sei

    Namu kie Butsu, Namu kie Ho, Namu kie So.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Marcos View Post

    Then someday I want to do Full Lotus and be confortable into it.
    Hi Marcos,

    I am the expert on sitting and I can answer all questions about posture when it comes to me. Buddha, Dogen, Taigu and Jundo are worthless because they don't get to carry this corpse around day and night. I wish the same for for you.

    Gassho, Jishin, _/st\_

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Jishin View Post
    Hi Marcos,

    I am the expert on sitting and I can answer all questions about posture when it comes to me. Buddha, Dogen, Taigu and Jundo are worthless because they don't get to carry this corpse around day and night. I wish the same for for you.

    Gassho, Jishin, _/st\_
    Lovely. Buddha and Dogen and everyone else can't sit for you.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Lovely. Buddha and Dogen and everyone else can't sit for you.

    Gassho, J


    Gassho
    Shingen

    #sattoday
    RINDO SHINGEN
    倫道 真現

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