anyone use the chair?

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.

anyone use the chair?

Postby delf7 » Wed Nov 02, 2011 1:28 pm

i am greatly anticipating starting my practice, but i am waiting to finish a little more reading before i start.
one question : do any of you sit in a chair? i understand that this position is the least desireable, but i have some knee problems that make sitting in any of the traditional "cross-legged" positions virtually impossible. so i am looking at useing the chair method. i was curious if any of you are in the same situation, and if it works out just fine for you.
thank you.
metta,
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Re: anyone use the chair?

Postby Jhana4 » Wed Nov 02, 2011 1:33 pm

I've used "a chair".....but not "the chair" ( aka "the electric chair" ) :)

Seriously, I have kept a log and started a meditation practice over 6 years ago. I haven't missed a day in that time. For the first several years I used a chair. I got fantastic results and had some of my best meditations during that time.

Sitting on the floor does add a little bit to the experience, but it is far from essential. It is about what does on in your skull.

The most important things when sitting are to keep you spine straight, but relaxed and not to be reclining so you stay alert. I've had the best results using a non-cushy, straight backed chair with a cylindrical pad in between the small of my back and the chair. That kind of pad will make it easier to keep your back straight and comfortable. A rolled up cushy towel or a pillow will do too.
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The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Re: anyone use the chair?

Postby Nyana » Wed Nov 02, 2011 3:52 pm

:goodpost:


delf7 wrote:i have some knee problems that make sitting in any of the traditional "cross-legged" positions virtually impossible. so i am looking at useing the chair method.

I sit on the floor, but with your knee problems by all means sit on a chair. You'll be able to develop a stable posture and keep your back straight without having to deal with knee problems. Consistency and patience are important. We practice with our mind and our whole body, not just with our knees.
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Re: anyone use the chair?

Postby daverupa » Wed Nov 02, 2011 4:20 pm

I like to mention meditation benches as an oft-overlooked tool, although the knee issue may preclude the use of those as well. It's a thought - just make sure your knees are below your hips when sitting in a chair, lest your lower back suffer.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: anyone use the chair?

Postby delf7 » Wed Nov 02, 2011 5:37 pm

daverupa wrote:I like to mention meditation benches as an oft-overlooked tool, although the knee issue may preclude the use of those as well. It's a thought - just make sure your knees are below your hips when sitting in a chair, lest your lower back suffer.

i did a quick internet search on the meditaion bench and saw some examples. thanx for the idea. if you think this bench idea is better than the chair idea, i bet i could fashion one for myself fairly easily. i hadn't thought of the kneeling position, or considered it an option, as i haven't seen it mentioned in any of the reading i've done.
i CAN sit in a "kneeling" position, i just can't do the "cross-legged" thing, the ol' knees just don't bend that way.
do you think would there be an advantage to kneeling opposed to sitting in a chair?
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Re: anyone use the chair?

Postby daverupa » Wed Nov 02, 2011 6:14 pm

delf7 wrote:do you think would there be an advantage to kneeling opposed to sitting in a chair?


It's a lot easier on the back when you're trying to remain upright; chairs have a tendency to encourage slouching, and getting the knees below the hips sometimes results in strange foot placement which can lead to fidgeting and other minor fiddling which can be a distraction. If sitting is a necessary posture, a stool with something adjustable for your feet to rest on can help with the back issues.

One fun option might be a recumbent chair, which looks something like this:
Image

...but I'd take the wheels off of that one.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: anyone use the chair?

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Nov 02, 2011 6:24 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:I sit on the floor, but with your knee problems by all means sit on a chair.

And certainly, if there are problems with the knees, don't do anything to damage them more. I've come across bhikkhus who now sit on chairs due to knee pain...

To sit comfortably on the floor one needs flexibility in the hips (the knees are not designed to bend sideways!), which for people who are not used to sitting on the floor can take quite a lot of stretching work...

:anjali:
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Re: anyone use the chair?

Postby ground » Wed Nov 02, 2011 6:32 pm

delf7 wrote:one question : do any of you sit in a chair?


Outdoors I mostly sit on a kind of 3-legged folding chair.

Kind regards
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Re: anyone use the chair?

Postby daverupa » Wed Nov 02, 2011 6:37 pm

TMingyur wrote:Outdoors I mostly sit on a kind of 3-legged folding chair.


Image :?: Image
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: anyone use the chair?

Postby Tex » Wed Nov 02, 2011 7:14 pm

I use a chair frequently, especially for longer sits. You'll find there are enough distractions to deal with in meditation without adding another by making your knees ache.

The Buddha taught meditation in four positions: sitting, standing, walking, and lying down, and as far as I know sitting is not necessarily preferential to any of the other three. Go with what you're comfortable with.
"The serene and peaceful mind is the true epitome of human achievement."-- Ajahn Chah, Living Dhamma

"To reach beyond fear and danger we must sharpen and widen our vision. We have to pierce through the deceptions that lull us into a comfortable complacency, to take a straight look down into the depths of our existence, without turning away uneasily or running after distractions." -- Bhikkhu Bodhi
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Re: anyone use the chair?

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Nov 02, 2011 10:27 pm

Greetings,

The problem I encounter is not with my knees but my lower back.

At home I'm likely to sit cross-legged on the couch (with 2 cushions under my butt and 1 under each knee)

At a Buddhist centre I go to sometimes to sit for approx 30 minutes a session, I sit on a thin mat with my back against the wall

For anything longer, with no couch available, I'd opt for a chair. If doing 'sweeping' I actually find it preferable to sitting cross legged, as the inter-twined legs can make it more difficult to direct attention down one leg at a time - it's much easier if they're unentangled, parallel.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: anyone use the chair?

Postby chownah » Thu Nov 03, 2011 2:45 am

I use the chair, the bed, the toilet, the bicycle seat, the embankment by the river, the log, the squat, the right foot, the left foot, the leaning on things, the extending of the arm, the rotating of the wrist,the handles of my walk behind tractor,,,,,just to name a few.
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Re: anyone use the chair?

Postby Nyana » Thu Nov 03, 2011 3:30 am

retrofuturist wrote:The problem I encounter is not with my knees but my lower back.

This can be remedied for most people. As already mentioned, it's important to elevate your hips above your knees (when sitting in the cross-legged posture). When that is done, then it's a matter of adjusting the pelvis. The pelvis rotates forward and backward like a large flat bowl (with the bottom of the bowl analogous to the bottom of the pelvis bones). When the pelvis is in the correct position the spine will align like a slightly curved stack of coins (in a slight "S" curve with your body facing <-- way). Then the shoulders will also be aligned, and when it's just right, your skeleton will be well aligned, and your muscle mass will be full supported by your skeleton. Basically, all of your muscles will be able to relax like meat hanging on a rack. When the pelvis and spine and shoulders are correctly aligned then your body can deeply relax, which in turn, allows your mind to settle inwardly. (It's easier to work with someone in person to make these adjustments, but hopefully you can make the appropriate adjustments. It makes a world of difference.)

For most people who sit cross-legged on the floor the Japanese zafu & zabuton with a small support cushion for adjusting the zafu angle is by far the best technology ever invented. Preferably with a zafu stuffed with buckwheat hulls or something similar.

Image

Image

Note the very slight "ƨ" curve of her lower spine.
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Re: anyone use the chair?

Postby ground » Thu Nov 03, 2011 4:09 am

daverupa wrote:
TMingyur wrote:Outdoors I mostly sit on a kind of 3-legged folding chair.
:?:


Yes similar to the left one but if the sitting plane would be like that shown sitting would be unfomfortable and keeping the spine perpendicular would be impossible.
Big advantage of such a type is that it can be put into nearly any backpack leaving enough room for other things.
http://www.walkstool.com/uk/product/indexframe.html


Kind regards
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Re: anyone use the chair?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Nov 03, 2011 4:32 am

Greetings Geoff,
Ñāṇa wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:The problem I encounter is not with my knees but my lower back.

This can be remedied for most people.

My problem relates primarily to the "tailbone" (whatever it's really called) being too horizontal (compared to most people). Chiropractors have been able to make a bit of improvement on it, though what you say about having lowered knees relative to the hips might well help alleviate the resultant pressure... I'll give it a go.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: anyone use the chair?

Postby manas » Thu Nov 03, 2011 5:18 am

retrofuturist wrote:The problem I encounter is not with my knees but my lower back.

This can be remedied for most people.

My problem relates primarily to the "tailbone" (whatever it's really called) being too horizontal (compared to most people). Chiropractors have been able to make a bit of improvement on it, though what you say about having lowered knees relative to the hips might well help alleviate the resultant pressure... I'll give it a go.

Metta,
Retro. :)
Hi retro,
a long time ago, when I was first being trained in basic meditation, a monk told me to roll a towel up tightly so that it forms a kind of rod, and push that just under the tailbone (when already seated on a cushion, of course). This has the effect of just raising it a little, and this eases some of the strain on the lower back. I have modified it slightly, though. I first start with some newspaper and roll that into a thin rod; then I wrap the towel around that, and I end up with a rod that is a good balance between firmness and softness.(You need to keep the pressure up, on both newspaper and towel as you roll them together, or the result is too 'mooshy'. Also, don't use too large a towel, for the same reason.) I've used this method for years, and it keeps my lower back from getting sore, even though I sit in half-lotus on a cushion, on the floor. I recommend it highly. (By the way, because towels are kind of rough in texture, the rod lasts and does not fall apart, just keep it nicely rolled up, and use in the next session too. I only have to 're-roll' them about once every two weeks.)

:namaste:
Primum non nocere: "first, do no harm."
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Re: anyone use the chair?

Postby Buckwheat » Wed Jan 11, 2012 8:50 pm

Chair is my primary method, and the only posture I can sit in for longer than 20 minutes. It sounds like some of the other chair sitters are leaning back on the chair? That doesn't work for me. I place a buckwheat cushion on top of a tall dining room table type chair (I'm 6'2") so that I can get my legs straight and keep my knees well below my hips, and sit forward on the cushion. From the hip up I am sitting straight up as if I was on the floor. I also open my hips as much as comfortable. I have to say the sitting forward on a chair method is superb for allowing a straight spine. I feel like I can really settle into alignment such that almost no effort goes into a great posture. Slouching is not a problem for me, which is funny because I had horrible posture most of my life.

This method was perfect for a long time, but there is a rather large amount of pressure in the sacrum area because all of your weight is there instead of sharing some with the knees. One day after a longer sit I had the terrifying sensation of having my "man parts" fall asleep, which was really quite startling. It also led to insight of how much we identify with our sexual organs. Now that I have some experience, I found out that my junk is not going to fall off just because it falls asleep. So now I just expect it and after meditating I get up from the cushion slowly. I can sit for up to 60-70 minutes that way without discomfort, and eek out another 20 if I'm willing to push through some pain (mostly just overall fatigue, body parts falling asleep, etc.).
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Re: anyone use the chair?

Postby JustThis » Thu Jan 12, 2012 3:35 am

I started with a bench, then as I got older, when on retreat, I would alternate between that and a chair. Now I use a chair similar to what Dave posted, but a cheaper model ($69 in Office Max). I will use my office chair when at work and if you position the back and arm rests correctly it works fine.
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Re: anyone use the chair?

Postby sattva » Thu Jan 12, 2012 7:03 am

i just want you to know that this isn't static. Your ability to sit cross-legged can come and go, depending on your physical well-being along with your mindstate. So, don't think it has to be permanent. Try a regular chair, try a bench, try more pillows, try mixing and matching :) You can be fluid with the practice.
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Re: anyone use the chair?

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Thu Jan 12, 2012 9:52 am

Jhana4 wrote:I've used "a chair".....but not "the chair" ( aka "the electric chair" ) :)



:jumping:

But seriously, I've used a chair for the last couple of years and it's fine - though I've had to play around with putting bits of wood under the chair legs to get the angle right. The most important aspect of meditation posture seems to be keeping a straight back.

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