Arm position in meditation?

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Arm position in meditation?

Postby Lazy_eye » Sun Jan 24, 2010 5:35 am

Hi,

This is probably a very silly question but I need to ask. About three or four times a year I have the chance to sit with a Theravada group. There's no guidance provided; it's just a sitting session. My only instruction has been in a Zen environment, where I was taught to keep my hands in my lap and form a mudra.

Now, in the Theravada group, I've noticed that one of the members sits with her arms extended in front of her, and her hands folded in a prayer-like position in front of her chin. Is this common? I have tried it at home and found it helps me maintain alertness, especially if I'm getting a bit drowsy. The effort needed to keep the arms raised is beneficial and the folded hands provide an object to focus on. But I'm not sure whether or not this is "kosher".

Any thoughts/suggestions?
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Re: Arm position in meditation?

Postby jcsuperstar » Sun Jan 24, 2010 5:47 am

from my formal (as in learning from monks in temples and from visiting many many different temples) the whole posture, how you sit thing is a bit more free and easy in Theravada, whereas in zen i was taught these things were very important. however the standard meditation posture is the same as in zen but hands/legs are backwards to the zen placement.
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Re: Arm position in meditation?

Postby appicchato » Sun Jan 24, 2010 7:59 am

Can't say as I remember ever coming across sitting that way, but if it helps you, carry on...no one (should) tell you that you can not/must not meditate that way...I would suggest, however, attempting the hands-in-the-lap method (I also can't remember having seen a phuttaroop (statue of the Buddha) sitting that way (hands in Anjali)...just saying... :smile:
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Re: Arm position in meditation?

Postby Ben » Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:26 am

Hi LE
Personally...
I sit with my hands in my lap with right hand in left.
The position of the hands isn't a big deal and it shouldn't be a distraction from the actual mental cultivation of meditation.
kind regards

Ben
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Re: Arm position in meditation?

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Jan 24, 2010 1:42 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:Hi,

This is probably a very silly question but I need to ask. About three or four times a year I have the chance to sit with a Theravada group. There's no guidance provided; it's just a sitting session. My only instruction has been in a Zen environment, where I was taught to keep my hands in my lap and form a mudra.

Now, in the Theravada group, I've noticed that one of the members sits with her arms extended in front of her, and her hands folded in a prayer-like position in front of her chin. Is this common? I have tried it at home and found it helps me maintain alertness, especially if I'm getting a bit drowsy. The effort needed to keep the arms raised is beneficial and the folded hands provide an object to focus on. But I'm not sure whether or not this is "kosher".

Any thoughts/suggestions?


I sit with my right hand ontop of my left like Ben, although sometimes I sit with my hands palm down, no particular reason for it though other than that is how my hands wish to be at that time. When I chant, I have my hands together in anjali (which is what I think you are referring to here?) and sometimes start the first few minuets of meditation in that way, but never had a need to do a whole sit in that fashion, more a means to help at the start in much the same way you describe.

so if you find it useful, use it.
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Re: Arm position in meditation?

Postby Lazy_eye » Mon Jan 25, 2010 1:48 am

Thanks, everyone. It's interesting that Theravada has a more relaxed approach than Zen, where things like this seem quite formalized. Many if not most Zen centers ask new attendees to go through an orientation before participating.

When I first went to the Theravada group I asked if I needed some preparation or orientation, and they seemed taken aback by the question. :)
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Re: Arm position in meditation?

Postby Ben » Mon Jan 25, 2010 2:01 am

Hi LE

Lazy_eye wrote:When I first went to the Theravada group I asked if I needed some preparation or orientation, and they seemed taken aback by the question. :)


Well, my attitude is that a life infused with dukkha is all the preparation you need!
But seriously, I can understand that Zen can be incredibly formal and there is a 'method to the madness' so to speak.
metta

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Re: Arm position in meditation?

Postby baratgab » Fri Jan 29, 2010 1:16 am

If you ask me (I don't know why would you do that, though :lol:): while the approach is nearly the opposite in the Zen and the Theravada tradition, the goal is the same. Theravadins tell you almost nothing about the posture to convince you not to fixate over it, and just put the body down. Zen tells you almost everything about the posture to convince you not to fixate over it, and just put the body down.

The first strategy based on the premise that the lack of instruction is what you need to not being concerned, while the second strategy based on the premise that clear instruction is what you need to not being concerned.

Every of the two can backfire: In the first case one can spend his/her whole meditation wondering how he/she should sit, while in the second case one can spend his/her whole meditation worrying about keeping a precise posture. Both problems effectively prevent the stilling of the body, which otherwise happens naturally.

But this is just pure intuition... although it is quite true that in many case the only real difference between the traditions is just the approach, and the essence is the same.
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Re: Arm position in meditation?

Postby withoutcolour » Fri Jan 29, 2010 1:49 am

I tend to sit like this fella and it works rather nicely.

Image

I was, like some others, taught meditation by zen folks, so it ended up sticking.
I like it though.
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ
sabbe sattā sukhita hontu
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Re: Arm position in meditation?

Postby acinteyyo » Fri Jan 29, 2010 6:05 pm

I like Ajahn Chah's posture, seems to be comfortable

Image

best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Both formerly, monks, and now, it is just suffering that I make known and the ending of suffering.
Pathabyā ekarajjena, saggassa gamanena vā sabbalokādhipaccena, sotāpattiphalaṃ varaṃ. (Dhp 178)
Sole dominion over the earth, going to heaven or lordship over all worlds: the fruit of stream-entry excels them.

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