How bad is it to use back support?

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

How bad is it to use back support?

Postby powerhawk » Tue Jan 31, 2012 5:05 pm

I've been meditating for about 4 months now, 40 minutes in the morning and 20 at night. I started out by using back support and keeping my back rather straight, which was comfortable and the 40 minutes was fine. Then, I bought a zafu, and found that I could sit and my back stayed perfectly straight without support, but I would get extreme pain in my tailbone (probably because I have a minor medical condition called a pilonidal cyst). So, I've been fiddling with different positions on the zafu and can sometimes find a position where I can make it through the entire 40 minutes with just a couple adjustments. (I've even been trying seiza, but it kills my right knee)

The pain is extreme, and I'm finding myself starting to dread the 40 minutes. "I" feel as though "I" am doing a good job being the pain and resistance, but, even though it seems as though "I" am getting in touch with just being during meditating, it's a very unpleasant experience.

So, I am left wondering, should I go back to the back support, where I can sit without much resistance? Or continue dreading but working with the painful postures?
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Re: How bad is it to use back support?

Postby Zom » Tue Jan 31, 2012 5:43 pm

Meditation is about mind - not about body. So any support is okey. You can even lie on a soft bed - this is okey to meditate if you can meditate in this posture on the bed. When you meditate and experience bodily pain - only one quality develops in this case - endurance ,) while your mind is agitated by pain and will not calm down until pain goes away. Pain distracts from meditation even more than music playing or people talking nearby.

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Re: How bad is it to use back support?

Postby David2 » Tue Jan 31, 2012 6:02 pm

Slight pain is good stuff to work with -- one should not change the posture.

But if the pain gets too extreme, too torturing, it's better to change the posture, to make it more comfortable. (It seems that is the case here.)

But it is wrong to avoid every slight pain in meditation. One should be aware how strong or weak the pain really is.
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Re: How bad is it to use back support?

Postby Goofaholix » Tue Jan 31, 2012 6:28 pm

Sitting in a chair without using the back support is probably better than sitting cross legged and leaning on something.

If you want to develop a good cross legged posture then do yoga stretches that develop it daily for a couple of months like the butterfly stretch until you can do it comfortably.

It sounds like until then you should be in a chair.
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Re: How bad is it to use back support?

Postby mirco » Tue Jan 31, 2012 7:52 pm

Goofaholix wrote:Sitting in a chair without using the back support is probably better than sitting cross legged and leaning on something.

Yup. No magic in floor sitting. Nibbana is possible - even without legs :-)
Only make shure not to move at all during sitting meditation, and, if possible, to keep the back straight, but relaxed, without leaning against the backrest.
:-)
Last edited by mirco on Tue Jan 31, 2012 8:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How bad is it to use back support?

Postby David2 » Tue Jan 31, 2012 7:59 pm

A bench could be an alternative, too.
If you can sit comfortably on a bench, it is better than a chair for meditation.
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Re: How bad is it to use back support?

Postby mirco » Tue Jan 31, 2012 8:02 pm

David2 wrote:A bench could be an alternative, too. If you can sit comfortably on a bench, it is better than a chair for meditation.

Is it better in general or better for you?
If in general, how and why?
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Re: How bad is it to use back support?

Postby David2 » Tue Jan 31, 2012 8:04 pm

mirco wrote:If in general, how and why?
:-)


More stability, more contact to the floor/mat.
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Re: How bad is it to use back support?

Postby mirco » Tue Jan 31, 2012 9:24 pm

David2 wrote:
mirco wrote:If in general, how and why? :-)

More stability, more contact to the floor/mat.

For me, leaning against something during sitting meditation makes it easier for sloth and torpor to come up.
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Re: How bad is it to use back support?

Postby powerhawk » Tue Jan 31, 2012 9:24 pm

Do many claim that using back support makes one less alert?

I haven't tried many chairs but the ones I have are less comfortable than the zafu, I'd have to purchase a new one.


Thanks for all the advice so far!
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Re: How bad is it to use back support?

Postby David2 » Tue Jan 31, 2012 9:36 pm

mirco wrote:
David2 wrote:
mirco wrote:If in general, how and why? :-)

More stability, more contact to the floor/mat.

For me, leaning against something during sitting meditation makes it easier for sloth and torpor to come up.


Maybe you misunderstood me, I meant such a meditation bench (you don't lean your back against anything):

Image
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Re: How bad is it to use back support?

Postby chownah » Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:21 am

People who have joint pains sometimes do water aerobics. Water aerobics is done in a swimming pool with water up to the chest or neck when standing....the water partially supports the body resulting in less stress on the joints. I'm wondering if meditating sitting crosslegged in a tub of water up to the chest or neck would relieve joint stresses (and other discomforts too).....has anyone every heard of meditating this way?
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