Lower back pain

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

Lower back pain

Postby sangyey » Thu Mar 18, 2010 2:06 pm

Hi everybody,

I am experiencing lower back pain around the bottom portion of my spine and am not sure how to correct it. I think possibly it is because I am not sitting up as straight as possible but am not exactly sure. I also sit on a zafu but i'm not even sure if I'm sitting on it correctly. It seems that a lot during my meditation I am constantly fidgeting trying to maintain a correct posture.

Thank you :smile:

-Sangyey
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Re: Lower back pain

Postby bodom » Thu Mar 18, 2010 2:16 pm

Make sure you are sitting on the very front of the zafu. You might try adding another small cushion under the zafu to elevate your spine even more. I have found this this to help me when sitting for longer periods.

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Lower back pain

Postby sangyey » Thu Mar 18, 2010 3:36 pm

Thank you I look forward to trying that out next time. What would you suggest I do with my legs?
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Re: Lower back pain

Postby bodom » Thu Mar 18, 2010 3:42 pm

sangyey wrote:Thank you I look forward to trying that out next time. What would you suggest I do with my legs?


I have found the burmese posture to be the most comfortable for me personally.

http://www.mro.org/zmm/teachings/images ... efront.jpg

You need to experiment to find what works best for you.

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Lower back pain

Postby sangyey » Thu Mar 18, 2010 4:09 pm

Okay thank you I will see what works.
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Re: Lower back pain

Postby alan » Thu Mar 18, 2010 4:36 pm

The obvious answer is Yoga. But just for a start try cradling your knee with both forearms and slowly pull it in towards your body.
Hip flexibility is the key. You'll be surprised at how locked up your glutes and lower back were after a good stretching session.

Do Yoga starting now. Make it a priority and I'm sure your problems will be a thing of the past.
Happy sitting,
Alan
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Re: Lower back pain

Postby Mukunda » Thu Mar 18, 2010 5:07 pm

If you've not done so, I suggest you have your sitting posture checked by an experienced meditator. The proper upright position can feel a bit awkward until one gets used to it, but it really helps to prevent excessive back pain. Doing a bit of hatha yoga, especially focusing on strengthening core muscles and opening the hips can help as well.
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Re: Lower back pain

Postby sangyey » Thu Mar 18, 2010 6:25 pm

Thanks for the additional recommendations.

Could it also be possible that a zafu isn't for me? Perhaps another type of cushion would work better? Maybe something with a firmer surface.
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Re: Lower back pain

Postby meindzai » Thu Mar 18, 2010 6:27 pm

My back problems went away when, rather than trying to sit "straight," I made sure I had a gentle curve to my spine in the lower back (curving inward). The "straightness" isn't so much about the spine being straight up and down - but not leaning forward or back. Our spines curve - that's what they do. The stomach is pushed out a little bit. Think about how before we evolved to two legged beings "we" would crawl around on all fours and gravity would pull our middle part downward. (I don't know if that's an anthropological fact, but it makes sense to me.)

I also occasional do this yogic back strengthening/stretching series: cobra, quarter locust (each leg), half locus (be very careful - take a yoga class or read up on how to do this properly before trying it, and be gentle), full locust. After doing this for awhile and sitting regularly I feel like I have a back of steel or something. When I don't do it I definately feel the difference. :meditate:

-M
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Re: Lower back pain

Postby Mukunda » Thu Mar 18, 2010 10:29 pm

meindzai wrote:My back problems went away when, rather than trying to sit "straight," I made sure I had a gentle curve to my spine in the lower back (curving inward). The "straightness" isn't so much about the spine being straight up and down - but not leaning forward or back. Our spines curve - that's what they do.


Quite true. The spine should be upright not straight. Maintaining the natural curves decreases strain on the muscles.
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Re: Lower back pain

Postby acinteyyo » Fri Mar 19, 2010 2:01 am

Hi sangyey,
on a zafu it should look a little bit like this
Image
When you sit correctly your pelvis should be tilted slightly to the front, as you can see at the picture. This will bring your spine automatically in a natural upright position. To maintain that position should then be relatively easy.

best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Both formerly, monks, and now, it is just suffering that I make known and the ending of suffering.
Pathabyā ekarajjena, saggassa gamanena vā sabbalokādhipaccena, sotāpattiphalaṃ varaṃ. (Dhp 178)
Sole dominion over the earth, going to heaven or lordship over all worlds: the fruit of stream-entry excels them.

:anjali:
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Re: Lower back pain

Postby sangyey » Fri Mar 19, 2010 1:08 pm

Accinteyyo, thanks for providing the picture I found it quite useful to see the side angle. I just finished a short session trying to sit the way that it showed in the picture and it definitely felt more comfortable. Hopefully over time the posture will fall more into place.
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