Will I ever be able to sit comfortably?

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

Will I ever be able to sit comfortably?

Postby Coyote » Sun Jun 02, 2013 1:40 pm

The more I read about posture and try out new things, the more I see my own very bad posture - from years of slumped sitting on chairs, little or no exercise and so on. To those of you who have gone from primarily chair based sitting, to crossed leg/floor based sitting when in meditation, or even outside of meditation, how long does it take for the body to get used to the new posture? Will it ever feel natural? I am contemplating sitting on the floor even outside of meditation as it seems to be a healthier position for the body generally.
Do any of you sit without a cushion? - I imagine many monks do, but is it healthy and comfortable in your experience? Did you wean yourself slowly off back support such as cushions and towels or did it all go at once?
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Re: Will I ever be able to sit comfortably?

Postby Zenainder » Sun Jun 02, 2013 2:40 pm

Coyote wrote:The more I read about posture and try out new things, the more I see my own very bad posture - from years of slumped sitting on chairs, little or no exercise and so on. To those of you who have gone from primarily chair based sitting, to crossed leg/floor based sitting when in meditation, or even outside of meditation, how long does it take for the body to get used to the new posture? Will it ever feel natural? I am contemplating sitting on the floor even outside of meditation as it seems to be a healthier position for the body generally.
Do any of you sit without a cushion? - I imagine many monks do, but is it healthy and comfortable in your experience? Did you wean yourself slowly off back support such as cushions and towels or did it all go at once?


Practice a comfortable posture. Personally, long before my time in meditation I had correct my posture in my daily living, which inevitably affects meditation "proper posture". Your back will be sore and will adjust and over time gain its own strength to hold "good posture". Timing? A couple of weeks? I never noted how long before my back felt better in general everyday wise. I still prop myself up against a wall when I meditate, no sense in letting it distract my practice.
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Re: Will I ever be able to sit comfortably?

Postby binocular » Mon Jun 03, 2013 6:51 am

In my experience, maintaining posture has a lot to do with mental attitudes.

When I first began to sit without having my back supported, I was very upset, scared, and then tense and then sleepy. Later, I noticed how leaning back, either in a chair or sofa, makes me feel weak and gives rise to a subtle sense of helplessness and victimhood, which is sometimes pleasurable, and sometimes not. On the other hand, sitting upright gave me more sense of self-control than I was comfortable with.
Changing body posture can bring about a change of attitude, and this change of attitude is not always easy to deal with or integrate, even if it seems a change for the better.

For me, those are the immediate issues to deal with, not what my body posture may look like externally.
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Re: Will I ever be able to sit comfortably?

Postby floating_abu » Mon Jun 03, 2013 7:13 am

It's not too late to try. You can incorporate gentle stretching exercises, light walking. Try different positions eg. burmese and sitting on a chair is a possibility.
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Re: Will I ever be able to sit comfortably?

Postby Justsit » Mon Jun 03, 2013 12:04 pm

"Will I ever be able to sit comfortably?"

It depends in part on your willingness to sit through "uncomfortable." :smile:

It also helps, if you are sitting on the floor, to use just enough cushion to keep your hips higher than your knees, thus relieving pressure on the lower back. Many westerners who did not grow up sitting on the floor need some slight elevation. If you can, wean yourself off any kind of backrest asap. If you are sitting on a chair, sit forward on the seat.

My initial meditation practice began at home, on a buckwheat hull zafu and zabuton, no back support from the very beginning. After a series of 5 full weekend sessions (a continuing course), the basic position was more or less "comfortable." Continuing that practice, my position evolved into half lotus relatively easily. Back pain is also exacerbated by weak abdominal muscles, so some emphasis on exercise in that area was also helpful. Also, lots of yoga helped with flexibility.

I would say it took 2-3 years of daily practice to be able to sit for an hour feeling completely "comfortable."
Just do your best, stick with it, and best wishes.
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Re: Will I ever be able to sit comfortably?

Postby Coyote » Mon Jun 03, 2013 1:54 pm

Thanks for the advice everyone.
Due to injury I have not been able to sit cross legged for some time, and now that I am getting back into it I am frustrated at the level of discomfort I am experiencing. Lower back, upperback/shoulder, and thigh/leg pain mostly. I have found in a recent sit that stretching beforehand helps a bit.

Zenainder wrote:Practice a comfortable posture. Personally, long before my time in meditation I had correct my posture in my daily living, which inevitably affects meditation "proper posture"


Could you elaborate a bit on what proper posture should be? I try to sit straight but not with the spine fully extended, resting so that I am not sloupching but not using effort to stretch the back upwards, and with the shoulders back and relaxed. I am now trying to sit like this on the floor as often as I can outside meditation. What about at other times, like standing?

Thanks + Metta
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Re: Will I ever be able to sit comfortably?

Postby Spiny Norman » Mon Jun 03, 2013 2:01 pm

Coyote wrote:Could you elaborate a bit on what proper posture should be?


One of my teachers used to say "alert yet relaxed".
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Re: Will I ever be able to sit comfortably?

Postby Bretteo » Mon Jun 03, 2013 7:27 pm

Coyote wrote:The more I read about posture and try out new things, the more I see my own very bad posture - from years of slumped sitting on chairs, little or no exercise and so on. To those of you who have gone from primarily chair based sitting, to crossed leg/floor based sitting when in meditation, or even outside of meditation, how long does it take for the body to get used to the new posture? Will it ever feel natural? I am contemplating sitting on the floor even outside of meditation as it seems to be a healthier position for the body generally.
Do any of you sit without a cushion? - I imagine many monks do, but is it healthy and comfortable in your experience? Did you wean yourself slowly off back support such as cushions and towels or did it all go at once?

I've always sat on the floor with a pillow. Meditated all the time when i was younger. High School taught me to slouch. Now that I'm older I've removed so much meditation time and added quality to it.

Instead of meditating for half an hour straight, try 15 twice. or 7.5 four times a day.

Some times it's better to achieve multiple, small points of views rather than a larger understanding. Easier on the back as well. :sage:
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