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Thread: Legs Asleep

  1. #1

    Legs Asleep

    I've been increasing the amount of time I sit. Partially this is to prepare for the 50 minute intervals that they do at Valley Zendo, and also because I feel the increased time gives my mind a chance to wear itself down and get into the Zazen properly.

    All this is great and working well just having one semi-serious problem.

    My bottom leg falls asleep!!

    So much so that I can't stand on it after finishing the session. I know this will make it difficult for me at the Zendo, I won't be able to get to Kinhin when the rest get up to do it, Should I be doing something differently I've been told to make sure I sit on the edge of the zafu, but this does not make a difference. Any suggestions of things I can try?

  2. #2

    Re: Legs Asleep

    Do you sit several times a day or just one sitting?


  3. #3

    Re: Legs Asleep

    My initial sittings in the Tibetan tradition were one hour and my bottom leg went to sleep as well. Although it is not perfect form, when I couldn't stand it, I shifted from half lotus to burmese (trying not to bother anyone else). I don't know if this is kosher but it got me through.

    Gassho and good luck,


  4. #4

    Re: Legs Asleep

    Hey Will,

    Sometimes one, sometimes two, sometimes more . . . . usually just once at a time except on weekends.


    Burmese seems to do it too, after sitting for more than twenty or thirty minutes.

    Perhaps I need a higher cushion to accommodate my height ( 6'4'') and thick legs, I'll try sticking a pillow on top of the Zafu tonight and report back.

  5. #5

    Re: Legs Asleep

    Hi Greg,

    As Linda said, it is fine to give a little Gassho during the period and discreetly, quietly, change position. Try to do this before the leg is too far asleep or it is harder to move without pain.

    Another thing that helps me is to slightly shift my weight on the buttocks left or right, until I can feel the sensation of the blood flow returning to that leg. Then, I hold that "sweet spot". Repeat as needed.

    50 minutes is a long sitting, but well worth it. During the extra time, the mind will tend to settle and also find some "sweet spot", and the experience can be profound. On the other hand, it can also be an experience of "mind over matter", as the back or legs ache. It do not recommend it for most folks during their busy days, but I do recommend such sittings during a retreat. In fact, I will try to incorporate longer sittings into our Zazenkai, and I recommend that everyone do a set of one or two longer sittings on a regular basis (40, 45 or 50 minutes), once or twice a month. We did a series of 4 sttings of 50 and 55 minutes each during our "Zazenathon" half day retreat for "Rohatsu" (which, unfortunately, did not get recorded).

    Please report to us regularly how it is going with your training routine, Greg.

    Gassho, Jundo

  6. #6

    Re: Legs Asleep

    So far the advice has been working . . . Shifting my weight seems to be a good way to avoid putting too much pressure on the leg. However, I have not been able to figure out how to switch the position of my legs quietly. I suppose it's just important to not do it often.

    Just a question . . . How long of a sit is recommended for daily practice? Should it be less than thirty minutes? It usually takes me about twenty minutes just to settle down into it, lol.

  7. #7

    Re: Legs Asleep

    Hi Greg,

    I recommend a sitting of 25 to 40 minutes, depending on your inclination and schedule. 30 to 35 minutes is a good target. Two times daily, morning and evening is best.

    Of course, a morning and an evening set of 2 sittings, united by a period of Kinhin, is even better!

    Now, because many folks with busy schedules cannot do that most days, I am recommending Jundo's patented "Insta-Zazen"(c) sittings, which can occur sitting, standing, walking or running throughout your day. In this case, the sitter should do at least one (1) sitting during the day in the traditional fashion (sitting, facing a wall) and several "sits" during the day lasting from a few seconds to several minutes. The best times for those are, for example, in the postal line, in the dentist's chair, in a boring meeting at work, when stuck in traffic, while shopping in the grocery, etc. etc. A series of several "Insta-Zazen" sittings throughout the day can substitute for one (1) or your two traditional sittings.

    Gassho, Jundo

  8. #8

    Re: Legs Asleep

    So how's the leg Greg?


  9. #9

    Re: Legs Asleep

    Hey Will,

    Actually much better. I've been following Jundo's advice of switching it out before it gets too numb. I've added some height by putting an extra cushion on top of my Zafu.

    I'm also getting much more flexible by attending Karate classes three times a week. I think a combination of these factors has paid off.

  10. #10

  11. #11

    Re: Legs Asleep

    Hi Greg and everyone!

    I've been following the thread with interest: my legs (especially the bottom one) tend to go someplace else when I sit. It was quite uncomfortable in the beginning but I read that it was a problem many beginners encountered and sometimes when it really bothered me made the sensation in the leg the point of attention, sort of breathing into it, observing it shifting. I learnt that it was actually a tingly feeling that in itself was not so painful and even pleasant and that since it did not cause me too much disress afterwards it was not dangerous. It has been quite tough during the week end retreat where the sittings were longer than I am used to but I learnt more about the body through this.

    Karate sounds like a great antidote to sleeping slegs. I hear Indian yogi did yoga before or after sittings. In a Zen store I got a little mat for meditation that I put under the zofu and let the legs rest on it and it made things somewhat better.

    Good luck!

    Gassho, Irina

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