Sitting for long hours

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

Re: Sitting for long hours

Postby Ytrog » Wed Oct 20, 2010 7:25 pm

I had the falling over problem too. It was always in the right leg. Recently I discovered that it was caused by having my wallet in the right leg-pocket. This blocked my blood flow when I was doing sitting meditation. I never had that problem ever since, so check your clothing and everything else you carry.

I imagine that such problems are a lot less present when you wear robes.
Suffering is asking from life what it can never give you.


mindfulness, bliss and beyond (page 8) wrote:Do not linger on the past. Do not keep carrying around coffins full of dead moments


If you see any unskillful speech (or other action) from me let me know, so I can learn from it.
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Re: Sitting for long hours

Postby Jack » Wed Oct 20, 2010 8:54 pm

Have you tried using a meditation bench?

I use a chair almost exclusively now.

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Re: Sitting for long hours

Postby alan » Thu Oct 21, 2010 3:34 am

Yoga. It's good for you. Do it.
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Re: Sitting for long hours

Postby dharmagoat » Thu Oct 21, 2010 4:01 am

lojong1 wrote:For the first month, my legs hurt after 5 mins., numbed by 15 mins. and I was quite worried about health risks of sitting too long. When I stopped worrying about it, 3 hour comfortable sits were doable. Sit through and feel all you can handle, then shift them or stand a bit, no guilt. Watch how quickly and fully you recover each time. The cause is mostly mental. It gets easier.


This is heartening to hear. I am still at the stage where my feet go numb after about 20 minutes. A simple change of position usually brings the feeling back for a while. Although I appreciate that the discomfort is not unhealthy and can actually aid meditation, I welcome the time when I will be able to sit comfortably for hours at a time. How long is it possible to sit without discomfort? How much sitting practice does it take?
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Re: Sitting for long hours

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Oct 21, 2010 4:25 am

Something that helped me was hanging out with Thai people and thus sitting on the floor a lot. I now routinely sit on the floor (on a cushion, Burmese posture) and eat dinner or use my laptop on a coffee table. So sitting on the floor isn't something special that I do only for sitting meditation, it's just part of normal life.

I would advise not being too anxious to be able to sit for long periods. Just keep increasing the time gradually to build up your confidence that you are not damaging something. E.g. if you've been sitting for half hour periods for a month or so and your legs haven't fallen off, sit a little longer... :meditate:

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Re: Sitting for long hours

Postby Dazzy » Thu Oct 21, 2010 4:35 am

rowyourboat wrote:It might be worthwhile exploring why you are meditating. Is it to relieve some kind of physical illness or mental illness? Is it to overcome suffering from an existential perspective. Or is to end the cycle of births and death which is called 'samsara'. You will find that different levels of motivation are required for different objectives.

In such a setting how big a problem is, becomes relative to the issue one is trying to find a solution to.

with metta

RYB


I meditate for wisdom and direct insight into not-self, impermanence and suffering. Besides what you suggest is irrelevant to how you deal with your posture. No matter what the motivation is, it still makes sense to care about the health aspects of long sitting, as a beginner.
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Re: Sitting for long hours

Postby Dazzy » Thu Oct 21, 2010 4:40 am

Jack wrote:Have you tried using a meditation bench?

I use a chair almost exclusively now.

jack


Nope. I actually like to get used to sitting on the floor with a small cushion. Getting used to a chair or a bench creates an unnecessary dependency whereas the floor is always available wherever you go.
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Re: Sitting for long hours

Postby m0rl0ck » Thu Oct 21, 2010 4:43 am

alan wrote:Yoga. It's good for you. Do it.


Oh yeah, second that! It does wonders for flexibility and circulation. I do it myself and that may be why at 54 i can sit in a half lotus or burmese posture for an hour comfortably. ( tho the half lotus is a little painful getting up from )
There is no comfort without pain; thus
we define salvation through suffering.
-- Cato
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Re: Sitting for long hours

Postby m0rl0ck » Thu Oct 21, 2010 6:02 am

Dazzy wrote:
Nope. I actually like to get used to sitting on the floor with a small cushion.
\



Buckwheat imo far and away gives a much more stable seat than anything else. There are some inexpensive ones too. Check amazon.
There is no comfort without pain; thus
we define salvation through suffering.
-- Cato
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Re: Sitting for long hours

Postby Shonin » Thu Oct 21, 2010 9:31 am

Dazzy wrote:Nope. I actually like to get used to sitting on the floor with a small cushion. Getting used to a chair or a bench creates an unnecessary dependency whereas the floor is always available wherever you go.


Yep. Apart from needing a cushion, sitting on the floor on a cushion is less dependent than sitting on the floor on a meditation bench (which needs a bench) or sitting on the floor on an ordinary chair (which needs a chair).

:tongue:
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Re: Sitting for long hours

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Thu Oct 21, 2010 11:29 am

Ben wrote:When I go on retreat I sit cross-legged for up to 16 hours a day and my legs are fine.


I'm very impressed - I find just staying awake for 16 hours a day a challenge sometimes. :)
I'd be interested to know what kind of meditation are you doing for these long periods?

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Re: Sitting for long hours

Postby Sunrise » Thu Oct 21, 2010 1:14 pm

Spiny O'Norman wrote:I'd be interested to know what kind of meditation are you doing for these long periods?



Good question :reading:
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Re: Sitting for long hours

Postby beeblebrox » Thu Oct 21, 2010 1:31 pm

Shonin wrote:
Dazzy wrote:Nope. I actually like to get used to sitting on the floor with a small cushion. Getting used to a chair or a bench creates an unnecessary dependency whereas the floor is always available wherever you go.

Yep. Apart from needing a cushion, sitting on the floor on a cushion is less dependent than sitting on the floor on a meditation bench (which needs a bench) or sitting on the floor on an ordinary chair (which needs a chair).

That is why I sit on bare floor. :tongue: I also do the burmese position, though my second foot is a bit farther up the shin compared to the picture. It's halfway between the knee and foot.

I still can't bring my left knee down to the ground completely since I broke my leg a year ago... but I still sit comfortably, and the position is pretty stable. It's all in posture. The pelvis should be vertical (not rolled under), and the bottom two points should be rooted in the ground.

I do the zazen mudra. I float it a bit (not resting on my lap, and the pinkies are resting lightly against my belly; aligned with the dantien, more or less)... this brings back my arms and shoulders. With this and the position of my pelvis, the spine ends up straight by itself. This might feel like a little bit effort to do in the beginning (a little tiredness in the arms), but after a week, you should be used to it, and then it becomes effortless. It becomes very stable.

The thumbs are not pressed against each other, but lightly touching (an equal mixture of drawing away and pressing together). This lightness should also be reflected with the rest of your posture.
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Re: Sitting for long hours

Postby Sobeh » Thu Oct 21, 2010 4:34 pm

It's good to note the connection between mudras and shoulder placement - shoulder and back alignment should definitely take precedence over hand gymnastics.
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Re: Sitting for long hours

Postby Shonin » Thu Oct 21, 2010 6:55 pm

beeblebrox wrote:I do the zazen mudra.


This is the Theravada Meditation forum. Get out!



:tongue:
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Re: Sitting for long hours

Postby beeblebrox » Thu Oct 21, 2010 7:05 pm

Shonin wrote:This is the Theravada Meditation forum. Get out!

:jumping:

:spy:
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Re: Sitting for long hours

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Sat Oct 23, 2010 11:41 am

Jack wrote:Have you tried using a meditation bench?

I use a chair almost exclusively now.

jack


I used a meditation bench for a long time, but my knee joints were complaining a lot so I switched to using a chair. I find a chair works fine, providing I keep my back straight. Eventually I may progress to the luxury of an armchair and slippers. :lol:

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Re: Sitting for long hours

Postby rowyourboat » Sat Oct 23, 2010 3:48 pm

Hi Dazzy

Pins and needles is not a medical condition. Your leg going numb is completly safe as long as you limit your sitting meditation to one hour. It will stop being a hindrance once you get into samadhi.

Your attachment (and fear) about your body is getting in the way. I hope you overcome them. In the suttas there is talk of sitting fearlessly:

"That monk, your majesty,
on the flank of Pandava,
sits like a tiger, a bull,
a lion in a mountain cleft."

Later the monk (the Buddha) is offered a place in the arm:

"You are young, youthful,
in the first stage of youth,
endowed with the stature & coloring
of a noble-warrior.
You would look glorious
in the vanguard of an army,
arrayed with an elephant squadron.

Now, here is a good teaching. We sit like a warrior going into battle, not like a weakling complaining of the slightest strain.

I wish you well

RYB
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha
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Re: Sitting for long hours

Postby bodom » Sat Oct 23, 2010 6:30 pm

Questions and Answers with Ajahn Chah

Q: Is it necessary to sit for very long stretches?

A: No, sitting for hours on end is not necessary. Some people think that the longer you can sit, the wiser you must be. I have seen chickens sit on their nests for days on end! Wisdom comes from being mindful in all postures. Your practice should begin as you awaken in the morning. It should continue until you fall asleep. Don't be concerned about how long you can sit. What is important is only that you keep watchful whether you are working or sitting or going to the bathroom. Each person has his own natural pace. Some of you will die at age fifty, some at age sixty-five, and some at age ninety. So, too, your practice will not be all identical. Don't think or worry about this. Try to be mindful and let things take their natural course. Then your mind will become quieter and quieter in any surroundings...


http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Questions_Answers1.php

: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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