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How do you like to meditate? Why? Any advice for a newb?

LadyEmmaELadyEmmaE Shropshire, England New

Hello everyone! This is my first time posting my own thread on here so please be gentle with me. I am experiencing issues with my meditation practice, namely deep pain in the ankles and the inability to drift into "deep" meditation or even to stay meditating for longer than 10 minutes, sometimes less. Admittedly, I have only been practicing since late May of this year and my practice has not been consistent; though I have tried to meditate everyday, I have had breaks.

The way I sit for meditation is on a Buckwheat cushion, sat on top of a mat. The "position" I have been trying to do is the Burmese posture, however I find my poor ankles crying out in pain (one of which I am pretty sure still hasn't healed from a sprain I suffered about 15 years ago). My feet also love to fall asleep on me and cause great discomfort. For the past few days I have felt very frustrated during meditation due to the pain and the inability to get my monkey mind to concentrate on the breath. Today I tried the "seiza" position by turning the cushion on it's side and straddling it. Surprisingly, I felt little pain and even seemed to breath better! So I am investing in a seiza stool and seeing if that helps.

So I guess my question is, how do YOU like to sit? How long did it take for you to realize that was THE position for you? Also, any advice for a meditation newb?

Thank you!

Comments

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    How do you like to meditate?

    Daily. I tend to sit on the floor on a pillow/cushion.

    Why?

    It is the formal recognition of calm, equanimity, ease or monkey mind, turmoil, wrathful delusions etc.

    Any advice for a newb?

    https://cundi.weebly.com/meditation.html

    LadyEmmaE
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran

    I prefer the Burmese style. I made my own seiza bench last year and found that rather comfortable as well, though I still prefer Burmese. Hopefully the bench works well for you, many people use one. If that doesn't work you can also try sitting in a chair.

    As for having deep meditations I don't know if I would worry much about that. I've been meditating with more or less regularity for over 20 years and I could probably count on one hand the number of deep meditations I've had. Usually I just sit there, go back to noticing my body or repeat a metta prayer whenever I notice myself getting lost in thought. Even without deep or blissful meditations the personal transformation I've experienced has been large and my daily base level of mental well being is generally pretty happy and calm. I've also heard of a Dharma teacher who has been practicing for over 30 years talk about having a similar sort of practice.

    Of course some people do develop the ability to have regular deep meditations. I guess the lesson is to just do the practice and try not to put much weight onto how each session goes but rather how the practice changes your mind and your life over the months and years.

    lobsterLadyEmmaE
  • paulysopaulyso usa Veteran

    i sit on a chair ,in half lotus. i sit and be.i think for me is quality over quantity.one minute or two of meditation is fine for me . the goal of meditation for me to be in a natural state.then i ease into drinking coffee and smokes.

    advice?listen or feel your body.if ache,readjust.or call it a day.the purpose of meditation is brain and body destress or cessation of personal unsatisfactoriness.

    LadyEmmaE
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited August 17

    Exactly @person what is deep meditation? Trance states such as samadhi and zombie type mind clearing? Probably you mean less mind clutter type mindfullness attention? Well that comes with practice and a lot of it.

    When I was practicing a lot an hour would go by with five minutes worth of distractions. So it would seem like a time compression ...

    The burmese posture is fine but the egyptian pose (seated meditation) for some is comfortable. Some people can meditate reposing. I fall asleep. For those with weak ankles try walking meditation or learn standing meditation ...
    https://stillmind.org/standing-meditation/

    oh and don't forget guided meditations ...

    LadyEmmaE
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    "...when am I NOT meditating...?"

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran

    @lobster said:
    Exactly @person what is deep meditation? Trance states such as samadhi and zombie type mind clearing? Probably you mean less mind clutter type mindfullness attention? Well that comes with practice and a lot of it.

    I guess I would consider deep some sort of jhana or absorption, those sort of magic style experiences where the heavens rain down and we become one with everything. Even considering the sort of strong mindfulness that you describe would fit by my experiences of deep.

    paulysoLadyEmmaElobster
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    I sit in Burmese generally. However, on long retreats I will sometimes switch between Burmese and seiza, just like you described. =)

    Also, any advice for a meditation newb?

    Just follow the breath, or whatever other object is used, and just keep practicing and don't preoccupy yourself with going deep, etc. "Going deep" happens just by itself, you can't directly make it happen. That type of preoccupation is often one of the very things that prevents it from happening because it diverts your attention, just like anything else diverts your attention. "Deep" is a byproduct of non-diverted attention. You can't divert your attention and then expect the product of non-diverted attention to appear. That doesn't make any sense! Of course, you will most likely lose the attention of the breath and it may go to thoughts of "this isn't deep, etc, etc." or whatever other random thought. But, none of that really matters. All that matters is that you return your attention to the breath. And like my teacher says "Every time you return, you gain a little bit of wisdom". Meditation, at least initially, is much more about returning attention, rather than keeping attention. Some people become distressed over the fact that they can't keep attention. But that's a misplaced concern because that's not the point. The point is simply to return, and gain a little bit of wisdom. =)

    lobsterpersonLadyEmmaEelcra1go
  • paulysopaulyso usa Veteran

    @person said:

    @lobster said:
    Exactly @person what is deep meditation? Trance states such as samadhi and zombie type mind clearing? Probably you mean less mind clutter type mindfullness attention? Well that comes with practice and a lot of it.

    I guess I would consider deep some sort of jhana or absorption, those sort of magic style experiences where the heavens rain down and we become one with everything. Even considering the sort of strong mindfulness that you describe would fit by my experiences of deep.

    same experience too.buddha's rule of thumb don't get attach to the experience .beyond jhana,there's practical living ...livelyhood,8fold component.etc

    our wisdom is born of experience.one can use medition in the morning to direct the day such as what i need to do?one is employing,right intention,right mindfulness or recollection and right concentration.

    person
  • sovasova delocalized fractyllic harmonizing great lakes Veteran

    Hmm if your ankles are hurting I would recommend learning some stretches and stretching for 10-15 minutes before sitting. There are two or three main stretches I do to help me sit in lotus longer-term. Lotus lunge is one. I think prepping your body for infrequent postures is the way to go.

    lobsterLadyEmmaE
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @sova hatha yoga stretching is a form of meditation. I am combining/incorporating yoga into my meditation. It has been very helpful.

    Hero pose for example.

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @LadyEmmaE said:

    So I guess my question is, how do YOU like to sit?

    Burmese style or quarter lotus...

    How long did it take for you to realize that was THE position for you?

    When I stopped thinking about my posture...

    Also, any advice for a meditation newb?

    There is no thinker behind the thought...just the thought itself...

    What I found to be very helpful...Whatever crops up in meditation, example feeling uncomfortable, pain, annoyment, anger (with oneself or others) etc etc is meditation...in other words all that happens when sitting is in itself meditation...

    "The most essential which includes all other methods is to behold the mind...The Mind is the root from which all things grow...If one can understand the Mind...Everything else is included"

    ~Bodhidharma~

    In the long run the knack is to sit around and do nothing :)

    However the mind often becomes charmed by its own thoughts...

    LadyEmmaE
  • CarlitaCarlita Bastian please! Save us! United States Veteran

    @LadyEmmaE said:
    Hello everyone! This is my first time posting my own thread on here so please be gentle with me. I am experiencing issues with my meditation practice, namely deep pain in the ankles and the inability to drift into "deep" meditation or even to stay meditating for longer than 10 minutes, sometimes less. Admittedly, I have only been practicing since late May of this year and my practice has not been consistent; though I have tried to meditate everyday, I have had breaks.

    The way I sit for meditation is on a Buckwheat cushion, sat on top of a mat. The "position" I have been trying to do is the Burmese posture, however I find my poor ankles crying out in pain (one of which I am pretty sure still hasn't healed from a sprain I suffered about 15 years ago). My feet also love to fall asleep on me and cause great discomfort. For the past few days I have felt very frustrated during meditation due to the pain and the inability to get my monkey mind to concentrate on the breath. Today I tried the "seiza" position by turning the cushion on it's side and straddling it. Surprisingly, I felt little pain and even seemed to breath better! So I am investing in a seiza stool and seeing if that helps.

    So I guess my question is, how do YOU like to sit? How long did it take for you to realize that was THE position for you? Also, any advice for a meditation newb?

    Thank you!

    >

    This maybe unorthodox to many Buddhist but I learned at the temple I went to a couple forms of meditation. Some in relation to worship and others the traditional siting. There is also walking meditation if you want to try that.

    The one I do nowadays is laying flat. In not distracted with the weight of my body and it helps me be humble.

    elcra1goKundo
  • FoibleFullFoibleFull Canada Veteran

    A live local qualified teacher (in ANY tradtion) is always the best.
    But not always available.

    Lacking a teacher, the BEST source I have found is a book: "Mindfulness in Plain English" by Bhante Gunaratana. The first few chapters are a most-excellent introduction to what Buddhism is and is not.
    The rest of the book is a resource for how to meditate, including how to work with the inevitable barriers that come up as you endeavour to master this discipline.
    The book is very readable.
    I was given my copy by a Sri Lankan monk, but I have seen that you can purchase a copy from amazon.com.

    As for meditation practices, if you have no teacher, you will be doing Theravadan Buddhism and meditation .. Vipassana/Mindfulness. It is said that Thervadan is perfect for those without a teacher, and I have no experience to contradict this.

    However, my own brother-in-law practiced Theravadan Buddhism on his own for 16 years and never grasped the impact of the Four Noble Truths .. but within 2 years of practicing with a Bhante, he started to understand more-deeply. So I guess even in Theravadan, it helps if you have access to a teacher. Who knows though .. he MIGHT have started to understand even if he had continued to practice on his own.

    Zen will tell you that you get nowhere doing Zen without a teacher. I cannot affirm or deny this, since I have no contact with Zen practitioners nor Zen masters.

    Vajrayana (Tibetan) will tell you that practicing Vajrayana without a teacher will "drive you crazy" (their wording, not mine .. but it is said that there is a real possibility of destabilizing your personality if you don't have the influence of your Lama guiding you in person. I have seen a few instances of solitary Western practitioners being delusional, but do not know if they were delusional before they took up Vajrayana on their own).

    Note that all forms of Buddhism are equally effective .. the only variable is our own courage, discipline, and dedication. And whether or not a teacher is necessary and we have access to a teacher.

    lobsterelcra1go
  • ZendoLord84ZendoLord84 Veteran
    edited August 21

    Half Lotus position. Meditation pulldown. I Start out with my hands placed up on my knees untill the tension is out of my leg muscles. Then I move my hands mindfully in my lap.

    Why? Dunno it works for me.

    I usually do concentration mediation. Focussing on the breath. When I feel very calm after a while I either go deeper towards pleasure sensation (jhana), or I go shift into mindfullness, being focussed enough to really see the arising and passing of all things (thoughts, sounds, feelings etc). Or I shift to metta mediation, sending love first to myself , then an outward circle.

    Sometimes I do a guided meditation via an app.
    I do mantra’s while driving ocasionally.
    10-30 minutes a day, in one or two sessions.

    Why these? Dunno. Trial and error. Some techniques stuck Some didnt. For example I started out with Zen long ago but the rigidness of the practise kinda bored me out.

    I never been a one-thing kinda guy lol.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited August 22

    @ZendoLord84 said:
    Half Lotus position. Meditation pulldown. I start out with my hands placed up on my knees until the tension is out of my leg muscles. Then I move my hands mindfully in my lap.

    Why? Dunno it works for me.

    Interesting.

    I have been doing similar. Though I start with an open yogic mudra, rather than hands down on knees. What you describe @ZendoLord84 is calm followed by focus. Excellent. Sounds effective.
    I consider very subtle things, such as hand postures, capable of great interior unfoldment ... once we have a mature inner practice ...
    https://blog.buddhagroove.com/buddhist-mudras-hand-gestures-of-the-buddha/

    ZendoLord84
  • @lobster said:

    @ZendoLord84 said:
    Half Lotus position. Meditation pulldown. I start out with my hands placed up on my knees until the tension is out of my leg muscles. Then I move my hands mindfully in my lap.

    Why? Dunno it works for me.

    Interesting.

    I have been doing similar. Though I start with an open yogic mudra, rather than hands down on knees. What you describe @ZendoLord84 is calm followed by focus. Excellent. Sounds effective.
    I consider very subtle things, such as hand postures, capable of great interior unfoldment ... once we have a mature inner practice ...
    https://blog.buddhagroove.com/buddhist-mudras-hand-gestures-of-the-buddha/

    Agreed. When ‘deepdiving’ every cm of posture makes a great difference.
    Ty for the article.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @person said:
    I guess I would consider deep some sort of jhana or absorption, those sort of magic style experiences where the heavens rain down and we become one with everything. Even considering the sort of strong mindfulness that you describe would fit by my experiences of deep.

    One with everything? I am lucky and grateful to be one of anything ... ;)

    Some individuals do have some euphoric, agitated and unsettled experiences. I was talking to a Theravadin monk who went into blissful mind states right from his earliest practice. Very nice, we all like bliss BUT it is a trap. Just as physical pain/agitation and other manifestations, distractions etc are not progress.

    The subtle depths that @ZendoLord84 describes can be just dismissed shallows. In other words subtle arisings are not attached to, just as the early gross arisings settle eventually ...

    Net
    I
    Mind
    Not a net, not a fish ...
    neti-neti
    https://www.wisdomlib.org/definition/neti-neti

  • elcra1goelcra1go Edinburgh, Scotland Explorer
    edited August 24

    Pema Chodron wrote this on The Six Points of Posture:

    Sitting meditation begins with good posture. Awareness of the six points of posture is a way to be really relaxed and settled in our body. Here are the instructions: (although I close my eyes)

    Seat: Whether you’re sitting on a cushion on the floor or in a chair, the seat should be flat, not tilting to the right or left, or to the back or front.
    
    Legs: The legs are crossed comfortably in front of you—or, if you’re sitting in a chair, the feet are flat on the floor, with the knees a few inches apart.
    
    Torso: The torso (from the head to the seat) is upright, with a strong back and an open front. If sitting in a chair, it’s best not to lean back. If you start to slouch, simply sit upright again.
    
    Hands: The hands are open, with palms down, resting on the thighs.
    
    Eyes: The eyes are open, indicating the attitude of remaining awake and relaxed with all that occurs. The eye gaze is slightly downward and directed about 4 to 6 feet in front of you.
    
    Mouth: The mouth is very slightly open so that the jaw is relaxed and air can move easily through both the mouth and nose. The tip of the tongue can be placed on the roof of the mouth.
    

    Each time you sit down to meditate, check your posture by running through these six points. Anytime you feel distracted, bring your attention back to your body and these six points of posture.

    -During the day I meditate in a chair- feet flat on the floor with my hands on my lap. At night I use a cushion- just through routine I think.
    My girlfriend is home at night so I tend to use another room to practice.

    I seen this quote by Bhante Gunaratana (author of fore mentioned 'Mindfulness in Plain English') the other day, on tricycle magazine website, and it has helped me with all my practice- I was always wondering what tradition? What method? What technique? The quote reminded me why I started meditating:

    "When you admit to yourself, 'I must make this change to be more happy'- not because the Buddha said so, but because your heart recognised a deep truth- you must devote all your energy to making the change." *Bhante Gunaratana

    I hope some of the above helps x

    lobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Outstanding advice @elcra1go <3

    I go over the basics again and again. B)
    I have been closing my eyes for a while now.

    ... the absolute physical stillness advocated in zen ...
    https://brightwayzen.org/practice/zazen-zen-meditation/start-sitting-zazen/

    I am also using two new postures, kneeling and downward dog in particular. I blame the yogis ... These are shorter physical awareness 'meditations' ;)

    elcra1go
  • ajhayesajhayes Northern Michigan Veteran

    @LadyEmmaE said:
    Hello everyone! This is my first time posting my own thread on here so please be gentle with me. I am experiencing issues with my meditation practice, namely deep pain in the ankles and the inability to drift into "deep" meditation or even to stay meditating for longer than 10 minutes, sometimes less. Admittedly, I have only been practicing since late May of this year and my practice has not been consistent; though I have tried to meditate everyday, I have had breaks.

    The way I sit for meditation is on a Buckwheat cushion, sat on top of a mat. The "position" I have been trying to do is the Burmese posture, however I find my poor ankles crying out in pain (one of which I am pretty sure still hasn't healed from a sprain I suffered about 15 years ago). My feet also love to fall asleep on me and cause great discomfort. For the past few days I have felt very frustrated during meditation due to the pain and the inability to get my monkey mind to concentrate on the breath. Today I tried the "seiza" position by turning the cushion on it's side and straddling it. Surprisingly, I felt little pain and even seemed to breath better! So I am investing in a seiza stool and seeing if that helps.

    So I guess my question is, how do YOU like to sit? How long did it take for you to realize that was THE position for you? Also, any advice for a meditation newb?

    Thank you!

    I usually sit in Burmese, Half Lotus, or Quarter Lotus, on a Buckwheat Cushion. My knees are a bit messed up and those seem to be fairly easy on them.

    I guess the best advice I can offer is "open the front and back door and just let your thoughts come and go. Do not serve them tea." I think that was from Suzuki. For a long time, I would try to clear my mind, and I would get frustrated because I was constantly having intrusive thoughts. When I accepted that this was just my brain being my brain, things got a lot easier. Occasionally, I slide into something deep. However, those moments don't drive my practice.

    So... Just breathe. Smile a bit. You're doing just fine. _/_

    lobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @ajhayes said:
    So... Just breathe. Smile a bit. You're doing just fine. _/_

    Excellent advice.
    I really like that comment. Just imagine if we are told to meditate or sit without effort. Smile the breath. Be OK with our sit ...

    ajhayes
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