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Dhamma Wheel • View topic - Dead leg/pinched nerve/circulation

Dead leg/pinched nerve/circulation

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

Dead leg/pinched nerve/circulation

Postby rucontent » Mon Apr 16, 2012 6:29 pm

Problem 2
Legs Going To Sleep

It is very common for beginners to have their legs fall asleep or go numb during meditation. They are simply not accustomed to the cross-legged posture. Some people get very anxious about this. They feel they must get up and move around. A few are completely convinced that they will get gangrene from lack of circulation. Numbness in the leg is nothing to worry about. It is caused by nerve-pinch, not by lack of circulation. You can't damage the tissues of your legs by sitting. So relax. When your legs fall asleep in meditation, just mindfully observe the phenomenon. Examine what it feels like. It may be sort of uncomfortable, but it is not painful unless you tense up. Just stay calm and watch it. It does not matter if your legs go numb and stay that way for the whole period. After you have meditated for some time, that numbness gradually will disappear. Your body simply adjusts to daily practice. Then you can sit for very long sessions with no numbness whatever.

http://www.vipassana.com/meditation/min ... ish_12.php

---------------
So if i am reading this correctly it is saying that my pinched nerve causing my leg to sleep, or feel pain is ok....just leave it alone? I won't cause damage to myself? Am i reading this correctly?

thank you
:namaste:
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Re: Dead leg/pinched nerve/circulation

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Mon Apr 16, 2012 7:20 pm

The common myth that those feelings are caused by blood being cut off is false. It's just a pinched nerve and you can't hurt yourself at all by just mindfully observing it. The only danger is when you stand back up, if you're not careful you can take a fall when you put your weight on a leg that's fallen asleep. I've startled my Sangha a few times that way =]
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

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Re: Dead leg/pinched nerve/circulation

Postby daverupa » Mon Apr 16, 2012 7:32 pm

Just be cautious if the pain is coming from your lower back or your knees - ignoring that sort of pain is a good way to wreck shop. Nerve pain through the buttock/thigh region isn't a worry.
    "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: Dead leg/pinched nerve/circulation

Postby rucontent » Tue Apr 17, 2012 12:00 am

daverupa wrote:Just be cautious if the pain is coming from your lower back or your knees - ignoring that sort of pain is a good way to wreck shop. Nerve pain through the buttock/thigh region isn't a worry.


ahh....i do feel some pain towards my knees but it seems more in my calf.....i will have to pay more attention....i just am wondering is this something a doctor would recommend or health professional...are we in our quest for going beyond the mind...doing the right thing? I trust what the community says but it is my main problem in meditation....i am fine with sitting a long time but the pain in my legs ....from loss of circulation makes me want to stretch them out and continue....
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Re: Dead leg/pinched nerve/circulation

Postby daverupa » Tue Apr 17, 2012 12:11 am

rucontent wrote:it is my main problem in meditation....i am fine with sitting a long time but the pain in my legs ....from loss of circulation makes me want to stretch them out and continue....


You might try a meditation bench, or a concerted stretching routine to increase hip flexibility. Otherwise, maybe double up on the cushions, or use one cushion under each knee and sit cross-legged against a wall.
    "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: Dead leg/pinched nerve/circulation

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Tue Apr 17, 2012 12:21 am

As Daverupa said, I can't recommend a bench or zafu enough. To sit without one is murder on the legs unless you're already pretty used to it.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Dead leg/pinched nerve/circulation

Postby rucontent » Tue Apr 17, 2012 12:38 am

LonesomeYogurt wrote:As Daverupa said, I can't recommend a bench or zafu enough. To sit without one is murder on the legs unless you're already pretty used to it.


yes i just got the zafu yesterday and have been sitting with it today for an hour or so....i will keep monitoring the pain to be aware of whether or not its good or bad....i guess i just don't know enough about it...my back isn't hurting...i just know that it is because my leg will be pressed against my ankle when i feel the pain...thanks....
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Re: Dead leg/pinched nerve/circulation

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Apr 17, 2012 1:50 am

Greetings,

The best way I've found to avoid these problems is to sit on a couch, with a couple of cushions under my butt, then a single cushion under each knee. The more even weight distribution and back rest mean I can sit for significant periods of time without encountering these problems that I would experience within several minutes of a more conventional sitting approach.

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: Dead leg/pinched nerve/circulation

Postby daverupa » Tue Apr 17, 2012 11:07 am

rucontent wrote:my leg will be pressed against my ankle when i feel the pain...thanks....


Sounds like one of two things, and I'm guessing simply based on this description: either you're sitting cross-legged on the cushion, or you're straddling the cushion in seiza.

The first one maximizes the distance from the floor to your knees, your ankles are forced to flex at a steep angle, with the ankle on the bottom taken extra pressure from a weighty leg. The second one can work, but most chair-people aren't used to the extreme flex of a good seiza posture; but this position doesn't necessarily add leg pressure, so I'll bet it's the first one you're doing.

So, try that second one: sit on the zafu in seiza (see below). Otherwise, perhaps try the Burmese posture:

Image

Here, the cushion is used to comfortably set the angle of attack for the hips, and there is a soft pad underneath for the knees and ankles. You can shift around with this as a foundation and find something fairly comfortable. If your hips aren't able to accommodate the posture, or your find that it generates knee pain, sit cross-legged but put cushions underneath the knees to relieve pressure on the ankle. Others may have better advice on using a zafu (Zen folk tend to be quite adept with them) - I do seiza on a bench. (Using a zafu, place it between the knees and mush it up to take all body pressure off of the ankles. Ensure there is NO knee pain.)

A stretching routine for the legs is also probably called for, if you're mostly used to sitting in chairs.
    "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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