Back, Shoulders Slouching

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

Back, Shoulders Slouching

Postby Sweet_Nothing » Tue Feb 11, 2014 5:01 pm

Off lately, I find that my shoulders and back have been slouching/bending forwards a lot off the mat.

It seems to have something to do with my practice.

When I am sitting 2 hours a day and maintaining the shila to my fullest, then my posture and energy in general is remarkably improved.
However, when I slip here or there and stop practicing, then both my posture and energy/motivation become lousy.

When I break a precept in a bad manner I fall into deep, dark pits of lethargy. Every time I do this, I climb back with some more understanding
and the gap between the falls is bigger.

Does anyone else also share these experiences? I would be glad to hear any advice from fellow members.

Thanks.
User avatar
Sweet_Nothing
 
Posts: 44
Joined: Mon Feb 10, 2014 4:58 am

Re: Back, Shoulders Slouching

Postby Mkoll » Wed Feb 12, 2014 6:19 am

I feel the same way in that lapsing in practice leads to laziness and more "monkey-mind". But I don't feel the same way about physical posture changing: it should stay the same unless your muscles are getting weaker, you haven't meditated in such a long time that you and your proprioception have forgotten the correct posture, etc.

How long do your slips in practice last? And what kind of "bad manner" in breaking the precepts are you talking about?
Peace,
James
User avatar
Mkoll
 
Posts: 2928
Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2012 6:55 pm
Location: California, USA

Re: Back, Shoulders Slouching

Postby Sweet_Nothing » Wed Feb 12, 2014 4:24 pm

Mkoll wrote:I feel the same way in that lapsing in practice leads to laziness and more "monkey-mind". But I don't feel the same way about physical posture changing: it should stay the same unless your muscles are getting weaker, you haven't meditated in such a long time that you and your proprioception have forgotten the correct posture, etc.

How long do your slips in practice last? And what kind of "bad manner" in breaking the precepts are you talking about?


My lapses generally last from anywhere between 2-3 days to a few weeks at a time. I certainly agree about the monkey mind part.

However, I feel I have something going on in the background. I still feel vipassana sensations like heartbeats, itching, etc here and there. When my backbone is absolutely straight, these are more prominent. I feel more mindful and meditative regardless of what I'm doing and start to observe vipassana like qualities coming up. It is a little taxing to keep this up for long and as soon as I forget about keeping back straight, it goes back into a slight slouch.

I had an desk job which involved a lot of sitting not so ergonomically and I think that contributed to weaker muscles/posture.

There is only one kind of precept breaking that I'm concerned with right now. I am trying to be celibate, but as the weeks pile up there is some tension build up in the background. If I do not meditate for xyz reasons, then this becomes very apparent and there is no strong equanimity to counter it. Now combine this with sexually suggestive imagery which is very common, and the sexual tension is hard to ignore.

At this point, I have 3 options :
1) Contemplate dead bodies/parts of bodies/ autopsy and such.
Easy fix but also very temporary.

2) Meditate.
Somehow, sometimes, just cant get myself to sit down. Which brings us to the next option.

3) Jack off.
The longer I ignore, more easier this seems and I eventually succumb.

After #3, I usually go 2-3 weeks before the tension starts to build up again. Fairly more than what this used to be, but I want to be done with this for good.

I know there is a whole huge thread mostly about justifying masturbation, and that orgasms are so intrinsic to us and so on, but I simply do not want to indulge in something so futile.
Besides, it definitely drains me. I find it much harder to wake up on time. I feel lazy and uninterested in anything the next day. My posture becomes worse and
I fall back in meditation/concentration. It becomes easier to get angry. These are good enough indicators for me that it isn't in my best interests to give in.

Perhaps a steady sitting routine might prove more helpful for me. :D
User avatar
Sweet_Nothing
 
Posts: 44
Joined: Mon Feb 10, 2014 4:58 am

Re: Back, Shoulders Slouching

Postby Babadhari » Wed Feb 12, 2014 4:49 pm

Sweet_Nothing wrote: rt.

However, I feel I have something going on in the background. I still feel vipassana sensations like heartbeats, itching, etc here and there. When my backbone is absolutely straight, these are more prominent. I feel more mindful and meditative regardless of what I'm doing and start to observe vipassana like qualities coming up. It is a little taxing to keep this up for long and as soon as I forget about keeping back straight, it goes back into a slight slouch.


dont forget to watch them pass away also! it might be better to set aside a time to sit and observe sensation otherwise powers of concentration diminish and it becomes hard to remain equanimous without developing aversion.

try some exercise like yoga to strengthen core and back exercises and it might help release some sexual tension in the process
:namaste:
Aflame with the fire of passion, the fire of aversion, the fire of delusion.
Aflame, with birth, aging & death, with sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs ......

Seeing thus, the disciple of the Noble One grows disenchanted. SN 35.28
Babadhari
 
Posts: 459
Joined: Tue Nov 26, 2013 1:23 pm
Location: lalita ghat

Re: Back, Shoulders Slouching

Postby culaavuso » Wed Feb 12, 2014 6:35 pm

Sweet_Nothing wrote:It is a little taxing to keep this up for long and as soon as I forget about keeping back straight, it goes back into a slight slouch.

I had an desk job which involved a lot of sitting not so ergonomically and I think that contributed to weaker muscles/posture.

This seems to be a matter of mindfulness and heedfulness. Through practicing maintaining mindfulness more constantly, it can be noticed as soon as the muscles begin to slouch. When this is noticed, it can be corrected out of an awareness that slouching can be an indicator of heedlessness. Slouching can also be an indicator of sloth and torpor, which a heedful attitude may lead to quickly abandoning once recognized.

Dhp 2
Dhp 2: Appamadavagga wrote:21. Heedfulness is the path to the Deathless. Heedlessness is the path to death. The heedful die not. The heedless are as if dead already.

22. Clearly understanding this excellence of heedfulness, the wise exult therein and enjoy the resort of the Noble Ones.
...
25. By effort and heedfulness, discipline and self-mastery, let the wise one make for himself an island which no flood can overwhelm.

26. The foolish and ignorant indulge in heedlessness, but the wise one keeps his heedfulness as his best treasure.

27. Do not give way to heedlessness. Do not indulge in sensual pleasures. Only the heedful and meditative attain great happiness.


Sweet_Nothing wrote:Now combine this with sexually suggestive imagery which is very common

This seems to be a matter of mindfulness and heedfulness. Through practicing maintaining mindfulness more constantly, it can be noticed as soon as the mind begins to give attention and create passion towards these images. Rather than waiting until later to contemplate the parts of the body or the corpse contemplations, you can apply them as soon as improper attention to beauty begins to arise. Recognize the unattractive aspects of what you see as soon as you recognize this mental chain of events begin. Put out the fire when it's the size of a match, don't wait for it to grow to the size of a forest. There are many unattractive aspects to every body, but it is through ignoring those aspects that the perception of only beauty arises.

SN 46.51
SN 46.51: Ahara Sutta wrote:And what is the food for the arising of unarisen sensual desire, or for the growth & increase of sensual desire once it has arisen? There is the theme of beauty. To foster inappropriate attention to it: This is the food for the arising of unarisen sensual desire, or for the growth & increase of sensual desire once it has arisen.

Now, what is lack of food for the arising of unarisen sensual desire, or for the growth & increase of sensual desire once it has arisen? There is the theme of unattractiveness. To foster appropriate attention to it: This is lack of food for the arising of unarisen sensual desire, or for the growth & increase of sensual desire once it has arisen.


AN 7.46
AN 7.46: Sañña Sutta wrote:If, when a monk's awareness often remains steeped in the perception of the unattractive, his mind inclines to the completion of the sexual act, or if non-loathing takes a stance, then he should realize, 'I have not developed the perception of the unattractive; there is no step-by-step distinction in me; I have not arrived at the fruit of [mental] development.' In that way he is alert there. But if, when a monk's awareness often remains steeped in the perception of the unattractive, his mind shrinks away from the completion of the sexual act, bends away, pulls back, and is not drawn in, and either equanimity or loathing take a stance, then he should realize, 'I have developed the perception of the unattractive; there is a step-by-step distinction in me; I have arrived at the fruit of [mental] development.' In that way he is alert there.


AN 4.49
AN 4.49: Vipallasa Sutta wrote: 'Attractive' with regard to the unattractive is a perversion of perception, a perversion of mind, a perversion of view.
...
Perceiving constancy in the inconstant,
pleasure in the stressful,
self in what's not-self,
attractiveness in the unattractive,
beings, destroyed by wrong-view,
go mad, out of their minds.
culaavuso
 
Posts: 976
Joined: Sat Jan 11, 2014 8:27 pm

Re: Back, Shoulders Slouching

Postby Mkoll » Wed Feb 12, 2014 9:41 pm

Sweet_Nothing wrote:I had an desk job which involved a lot of sitting not so ergonomically and I think that contributed to weaker muscles/posture.

This could be a factor. For me, I naturally want to slouch my upper torso, jut my chin out, drop the back of my head back, and droop my shoulders forward due to this being a posture I've sat in most of my life and it being the "easy" posture to default to when sitting because it requires less effort than a more straightened posture. I have to always keep posture in mind if I want to sit straight. I think this just goes hand-in-hand with mindfulness of the body and right effort. Basically, some degree of mindfulness and effort must be present for the body to sit straight.

Sweet_Nothing wrote:There is only one kind of precept breaking that I'm concerned with right now. I am trying to be celibate, but as the weeks pile up there is some tension build up in the background. If I do not meditate for xyz reasons, then this becomes very apparent and there is no strong equanimity to counter it. Now combine this with sexually suggestive imagery which is very common, and the sexual tension is hard to ignore.

At this point, I have 3 options :
1) Contemplate dead bodies/parts of bodies/ autopsy and such.
Easy fix but also very temporary.

2) Meditate.
Somehow, sometimes, just cant get myself to sit down. Which brings us to the next option.

3) Jack off.
The longer I ignore, more easier this seems and I eventually succumb.

After #3, I usually go 2-3 weeks before the tension starts to build up again. Fairly more than what this used to be, but I want to be done with this for good.

I know there is a whole huge thread mostly about justifying masturbation, and that orgasms are so intrinsic to us and so on, but I simply do not want to indulge in something so futile.
Besides, it definitely drains me. I find it much harder to wake up on time. I feel lazy and uninterested in anything the next day. My posture becomes worse and
I fall back in meditation/concentration. It becomes easier to get angry. These are good enough indicators for me that it isn't in my best interests to give in.

Perhaps a steady sitting routine might prove more helpful for me. :D

Yeah, a regular and diligent practice is the cure to just about everything. Of course this is easier said than done. :juggling:

The alternative is not to feel so guilty about wanking it once in awhile. You're definitely not breaking the precept: sexual misconduct is defined as intercourse with forbidden women in a sutta. If you can maintain excellent practice for weeks straight at a time and have a few days of lethargy in between, I'd say you're doing really well. Eventually you may come to the point where you don't get that urge or it arises and passes so quickly as to be unnoticeable.

And the hypothetical and rhetorical question must be asked...How much are your symptoms (draining, laziness, etc.) due to the physical act of masturbation vs. how much are they due to the psychological acts surrounding it?

:shrug:
Peace,
James
User avatar
Mkoll
 
Posts: 2928
Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2012 6:55 pm
Location: California, USA

Re: Back, Shoulders Slouching

Postby Pondera » Wed Feb 12, 2014 11:00 pm

2 or 3 weeks? I can barely get beyond 2 or 3 days!

Do you practice realeasing tension in your lower back? There's a lot of "prana" in that region.
User avatar
Pondera
 
Posts: 169
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2011 10:02 pm

Re: Back, Shoulders Slouching

Postby Sweet_Nothing » Thu Feb 13, 2014 5:28 am

culaavuso wrote:
Sweet_Nothing wrote:It is a little taxing to keep this up for long and as soon as I forget about keeping back straight, it goes back into a slight slouch.

I had an desk job which involved a lot of sitting not so ergonomically and I think that contributed to weaker muscles/posture.

This seems to be a matter of mindfulness and heedfulness. Through practicing maintaining mindfulness more constantly, it can be noticed as soon as the muscles begin to slouch. When this is noticed, it can be corrected out of an awareness that slouching can be an indicator of heedlessness. Slouching can also be an indicator of sloth and torpor, which a heedful attitude may lead to quickly abandoning once recognized.

Dhp 2
Dhp 2: Appamadavagga wrote:21. Heedfulness is the path to the Deathless. Heedlessness is the path to death. The heedful die not. The heedless are as if dead already.

22. Clearly understanding this excellence of heedfulness, the wise exult therein and enjoy the resort of the Noble Ones.
...
25. By effort and heedfulness, discipline and self-mastery, let the wise one make for himself an island which no flood can overwhelm.

26. The foolish and ignorant indulge in heedlessness, but the wise one keeps his heedfulness as his best treasure.

27. Do not give way to heedlessness. Do not indulge in sensual pleasures. Only the heedful and meditative attain great happiness.


Sweet_Nothing wrote:Now combine this with sexually suggestive imagery which is very common

This seems to be a matter of mindfulness and heedfulness. Through practicing maintaining mindfulness more constantly, it can be noticed as soon as the mind begins to give attention and create passion towards these images. Rather than waiting until later to contemplate the parts of the body or the corpse contemplations, you can apply them as soon as improper attention to beauty begins to arise. Recognize the unattractive aspects of what you see as soon as you recognize this mental chain of events begin. Put out the fire when it's the size of a match, don't wait for it to grow to the size of a forest. There are many unattractive aspects to every body, but it is through ignoring those aspects that the perception of only beauty arises.

SN 46.51
SN 46.51: Ahara Sutta wrote:And what is the food for the arising of unarisen sensual desire, or for the growth & increase of sensual desire once it has arisen? There is the theme of beauty. To foster inappropriate attention to it: This is the food for the arising of unarisen sensual desire, or for the growth & increase of sensual desire once it has arisen.

Now, what is lack of food for the arising of unarisen sensual desire, or for the growth & increase of sensual desire once it has arisen? There is the theme of unattractiveness. To foster appropriate attention to it: This is lack of food for the arising of unarisen sensual desire, or for the growth & increase of sensual desire once it has arisen.


AN 7.46
AN 7.46: Sañña Sutta wrote:If, when a monk's awareness often remains steeped in the perception of the unattractive, his mind inclines to the completion of the sexual act, or if non-loathing takes a stance, then he should realize, 'I have not developed the perception of the unattractive; there is no step-by-step distinction in me; I have not arrived at the fruit of [mental] development.' In that way he is alert there. But if, when a monk's awareness often remains steeped in the perception of the unattractive, his mind shrinks away from the completion of the sexual act, bends away, pulls back, and is not drawn in, and either equanimity or loathing take a stance, then he should realize, 'I have developed the perception of the unattractive; there is a step-by-step distinction in me; I have arrived at the fruit of [mental] development.' In that way he is alert there.


AN 4.49
AN 4.49: Vipallasa Sutta wrote: 'Attractive' with regard to the unattractive is a perversion of perception, a perversion of mind, a perversion of view.
...
Perceiving constancy in the inconstant,
pleasure in the stressful,
self in what's not-self,
attractiveness in the unattractive,
beings, destroyed by wrong-view,
go mad, out of their minds.



Hi culaavaso,

Thank you for taking out the time for creating this excellent post with all the good references. I agree with what you've said about slouching.

Certainly, I tend to get a little overpowered as the defilments become stronger as I do not have enough determination to pursue things so closely.
I am surrendering to being loathsome and my insights are not strong enough to pull me out of wrong views.

One of the wrong views I have held for long is that practice is a part time thing rather than a full time way of life. This too stems from delusion.
Certainly, there are lapses in mindfulness and heedfulness. I will strengthen my efforts to catch the trail of mind at the beginning.

Pondera wrote:2 or 3 weeks? I can barely get beyond 2 or 3 days!

Do you practice realeasing tension in your lower back? There's a lot of "prana" in that region.


Hi Pondera,

I used to masturbate everyday since I was in secondary school. I was introduced to pornography quite accidentally and never knew how harmful it was until I sat for my first Vipassana retreat.
That experience really tuned my inner moral compass and reduced my cravings/enjoyment of food, entertainment, sex and so on significantly.

So gradually the gaps increased and I got to where I am right now. I try to integrate the breath into body scanning and focus on tension areas which helps in dissolving the blocks.

Mkoll wrote:
Sweet_Nothing wrote:I had an desk job which involved a lot of sitting not so ergonomically and I think that contributed to weaker muscles/posture.

This could be a factor. For me, I naturally want to slouch my upper torso, jut my chin out, drop the back of my head back, and droop my shoulders forward due to this being a posture I've sat in most of my life and it being the "easy" posture to default to when sitting because it requires less effort than a more straightened posture. I have to always keep posture in mind if I want to sit straight. I think this just goes hand-in-hand with mindfulness of the body and right effort. Basically, some degree of mindfulness and effort must be present for the body to sit straight.


Hi Mkoll, thanks for your suggestions.

Same with me. I know the instructions are to keep straightening the back again and again after this is realized but I wanted to know a little more about why this happens.
It is possible to make progress in meditation with incorrect posture. A correct posture makes meditation more fluid and benefits more in the long run.
I think eventually it becomes a natural habit of the mind to sit straight as mindfulness settles deeper in the mind.

Yeah, a regular and diligent practice is the cure to just about everything. Of course this is easier said than done. :juggling:
Exactly, my friend !

The alternative is not to feel so guilty about wanking it once in awhile. You're definitely not breaking the precept: sexual misconduct is defined as intercourse with forbidden women in a sutta. If you can maintain excellent practice for weeks straight at a time and have a few days of lethargy in between, I'd say you're doing really well. Eventually you may come to the point where you don't get that urge or it arises and passes so quickly as to be unnoticeable.


The guilt tends to arise naturally, like the mind is somehow wired in that way. I read somewhere the Chinese have a word for those 5 mins of clarity a man experiences right after orgasm.
I think this habit is unwholesome because it breaks equanimity and promotes sensual gratification, which creates more delusion. Certainly, this forum has motivated me enough to pursue the practice with renewed vigor.

And the hypothetical and rhetorical question must be asked...How much are your symptoms (draining, laziness, etc.) due to the physical act of masturbation vs. how much are they due to the psychological acts surrounding it?
:shrug:


You're right. Probably 50/50. It seems that as mindfulness becomes more settled into every moment of our lives, we no longer indulge in even mildly unwholesome acts because the mindfulness prevents us from indulging
in the trail of thoughts that leads to urges, and the urges that result in unwholesome sensual desires being fulfilled, creating more craving/delusion.

It's not something we restrain by choice, rather it's something that stops coming up.
User avatar
Sweet_Nothing
 
Posts: 44
Joined: Mon Feb 10, 2014 4:58 am

Re: Back, Shoulders Slouching

Postby Pondera » Thu Feb 13, 2014 5:55 am

I used to masturbate everyday since I was in secondary school. I was introduced to pornography quite accidentally and never knew how harmful it was until I sat for my first Vipassana retreat.
That experience really tuned my inner moral compass and reduced my cravings/enjoyment of food, entertainment, sex and so on significantly.


The precepts for ordained monks, beginning with the start of the sangha - that does not allow for masturbation in the ranks. But the definition of immoral conduct is any sexual activity with a woman under the protection of her parents or siblings - i interpret this to mean, in the cultural context - any woman who is saving her self for marriage. Other women are fair game. If you want attachments, unexpected babies, or unexpected sores!

So gradually the gaps increased and I got to where I am right now. I try to integrate the breath into body scanning and focus on tension areas which helps in dissolving the blocks.


Do you associate with women? It's important to explore sexuality holistically. Sexuality is engrained in everything we do. A lot of sexual tension gets released naturally by just conversing and caluding with females or men you find attractive!
User avatar
Pondera
 
Posts: 169
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2011 10:02 pm

Re: Back, Shoulders Slouching

Postby Sweet_Nothing » Fri Feb 14, 2014 6:09 pm

Pondera wrote:The precepts for ordained monks, beginning with the start of the sangha - that does not allow for masturbation in the ranks. But the definition of immoral conduct is any sexual activity with a woman under the protection of her parents or siblings - i interpret this to mean, in the cultural context - any woman who is saving her self for marriage. Other women are fair game. If you want attachments, unexpected babies, or unexpected sores!


Masturbation is a grey area because abstaining from it is strictly not for everyone. Even lay people who are absolutely devoted to expounding and cultivating the fruits of Dhamma, such as the ones we can
expect to come across on this forum, would find it hard to restrain for very long. I suppose this would be much easier to do living in a quiet place with limited isolation than a bustling modern city.
If Lay people were exclusively asked to abstain, then I would assume that very few lay people would be able to call themselves good Buddhists.

Our plane of existence is called "Kama" Loka for good reason, and everything in it revolves around sex. We were all created through sex and it's the biggest source of delusion there is.
Sexual impressions are some of the hardest to dissolve. Such physical memory sticks deep in the mind and too much of it means too much confusion.

Personally, I feel that sex is overrated and it always increases delusion (even if there's no bad kamma involved). Kinda sad to see how much our culture is blinded by it.

Do you associate with women? It's important to explore sexuality holistically. Sexuality is engrained in everything we do. A lot of sexual tension gets released naturally by just conversing and caluding with females or men you find attractive!


The "tension" that I was referring to was more of impressions of lust coming up and slipping past my weak mindfulness into the foreground of attention. These are usually triggered by randomly coming across suggestive stuff on any form of media or a commute in general. I get what you're saying and it's probably right. I am trying to stop viewing myself as a male body which would automatically solve a lot.The other suggestion I like is to view all females as sisters, mothers or grandmothers with kindness and this would help prevent feelings of lust from arising.

At this time, I do not really converse with a lot of females, attractive or not. I might just get to know them better as & when I continue my education.

You certainly have way more experience than me in worldly matters, thanks for the advice.

With metta,

Akash
User avatar
Sweet_Nothing
 
Posts: 44
Joined: Mon Feb 10, 2014 4:58 am


Return to Theravada Meditation

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests