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Safe postures?

edited August 2009 in Meditation
You guys know that way that Japanese people sometimes(or often) sit on their own heels? like, shins down style?

I like that way the best, to meditate- but it hurts a bit. Is it , in your experience, safe?

no problems with cutting off blood flow, or warping my heels/shins etc?

I have heard that in karate they teach westerners to sit like that- and after a while they sit like that naturally..

for me it makes sense, it takes up minimal space, and maybe at advanced levels you don't even need a cushion.and it wont hurt ..not to mention it feels great on my back..

Any reason i shouldn't cultivate this technique?

Comments

  • fivebellsfivebells Veteran
    edited August 2009
    If you are yound, you will probably have plenty of leeway. If you notice it getting increasingly painful over several sessions, stop and seek medical advice.

    But generally speaking, people worry too much about postures. My teacher meditates in a chair. Doesn't seem to have done him any harm.
  • 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
    edited August 2009
    The way we used to sit after Qi Gong sessions was sitting on heels, tops of feet flat on floor, and legs at right-angles, so that the knees splay out..... (an imaginary 90-degrees).
    My teacher used to prop his butt up on a thin cushion.
    But Fivebells is right.
    Posture is over-rated.
    find something that you can practise in comfort, will not distract you, but you still remain alert and awake.
    The whole point is the meditation and the quality. Not the posture.

    Good luck!
  • edited August 2009
    um is qi gong for real?
    i actually used to practice chikung but it kinda came to a stand still..
    maybe we can start another thread about it? I am interested, hey if it's another tool that can help us live, I want to learn more and all about it.
  • fivebellsfivebells Veteran
    edited August 2009
    Yes, qi gong is real, and useful. The magical thinking about flows of qi etc. is a distraction from the utility, though.
  • jinzangjinzang Veteran
    edited August 2009
    The magical thinking is part of the utility. Qi goes where you focus your intention. Visualizing moving the qi is essential to the practice, at least how I learned it.
  • PalzangPalzang Veteran
    edited August 2009
    Here's another little quote from Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche that, as usual, seems right on the mark of the original question:

    From the samsaric ocean,
    With the net of your good posture,
    The fish of your subconscious gossip
    Are exposed to the fresh air.
    No praise, no blame.
    The fish of your subconscious mind
    Look for samsaric air,
    But they die in coemergent wisdom.

    Palzang
  • fivebellsfivebells Veteran
    edited August 2009
    The visualization of qi and its flows is essential. The belief in qi as a real entity with supernatural effects is at best ancillary.
  • upasakaupasaka New
    edited August 2009
    TheFound wrote: »
    You guys know that way that Japanese people sometimes(or often) sit on their own heels? like, shins down style?

    I like that way the best, to meditate- but it hurts a bit. Is it , in your experience, safe?

    no problems with cutting off blood flow, or warping my heels/shins etc?

    I have heard that in karate they teach westerners to sit like that- and after a while they sit like that naturally..

    for me it makes sense, it takes up minimal space, and maybe at advanced levels you don't even need a cushion.and it wont hurt ..not to mention it feels great on my back..

    Any reason i shouldn't cultivate this technique?

    The posture is called 'seiza'. It is used in some Japanese martial arts - in part because it is easy to rise quickly and draw a weapon if attacked, and it is also easier to move around quickly at floor level.

    Many Japanese are used to this posture, so to them it is comfortable. I have had to sit in seiza for very long periods - as a westerner I find it painful and the legs are numb afterwards. I have been told that your leg circulation adapts to it with time - I'm guessing this means many years.
    Stretching the legs every 15 minutes or so makes it much easier.

    For meditation, I find seiza comfortable for a short time only, but with a couple of cushions to raise my ass off the deck and open up the knee joints a little, it is easier for me than any form of lotus position (my legs have a range of rotation which is more 'inwards' than 'outwards'). With practice, seiza (on the deck) for half an hour or so should be reasonably easy.

    For meditation, I would not advise to just adopt a posture which is comfortable - you may end up with some longer term joint and muscle problems if slumped in an armchair. If you can, try to sit upright with a straight back - this will train your muscles until it becomes comfortable. If that means sitting on a stool, gym ball etc. that's fine. Imagine a thread is pulling you upwards from the crown of your head - when you sink a bit, pull back up.

    I would try to sit on the floor, not for some mystical 'grounding' but simply because adult westerners have far more injuries from falls in later life because their legs and core muscles may be much weaker than an Indian, Japanese, Chinese (etc) person who gets up from the floor regularly.

    I have never heard of any damage resulting from seiza - just some discomfort during and afterwards.

    For a 'warm-up' I do some prostrations - but if you don't fancy that, just try sitting on the floor and then standing up a few dozen times - then settle. I find a 'warmed up' body also helps settle the mind, and helps with seiza (circulation etc.).

    I have heard two schools of thought - distraction caused by discomfort is of no value, or conversely it provides an excellent test of focus etc. Personally, I learned to 'switch off' from the discomfort, which was maybe good for my mental focus but crap for my body - which gives me that pain for a good reason. No need for pain, IMHO, just build up gradually. ;)
  • LincLinc Community Instigator Detroit Moderator
    edited August 2009
    Excellent post, upasaka.

    Indeed, I've been encouraged by my sifu to sit away from the wall with back straight for as long as I can do so comfortably, and then simply scoot back against the wall to continue once my back becomes uncomfortable to the point of distraction. The goal is that over time my back will be strong enough to sit away from the wall for longer durations.

    When I first started Kung Fu, sitting in seiza was very uncomfortable for me and frequently caused a foot cramp. While I still cannot meditate for any significant period in that position, I have found it become more natural over the last 2 years of practice. As with everything else, it's a matter of what you're used to and slowly breaking yourself into new postures.

    I used to constantly lose bloodflow below my knees from sitting cross-legged (the position in which I meditate) for more than 10-15 minutes. I've found that slightly elevating my rear off the ground and using a wall when my back tires (and perhaps the intervening time) has mostly resolved this problem.
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