The Lotus - Getting there.

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

Lotus position

Postby clw_uk » Wed Mar 11, 2009 11:35 pm

Ive being trying to get into this position but find it impossible, has anyone else had this trouble?

Anyone know any good stretching tips?
“Happy is the man who has broken the chains which hurt the mind, and has given up worrying once and for all.” Ovid
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Re: Lotus position

Postby zavk » Wed Mar 11, 2009 11:43 pm

Hi Craig,

There's really no need to get into the lotus position, or even the half lotus. I've read about meditators who have caused serious, irreversible damage to their joints after years of forcing themselves into the lotus position. Please do not hurt yourself!

Take care,
zavk

EDIT: I should say that I have rather flexible limbs, so I'm able to sit in the half lotus comfortably. But I don't think there's anything 'magical' about the posture. My teacher just sits cross-legged and I can confidently say he is an accomplished meditator!
Last edited by zavk on Thu Mar 12, 2009 12:09 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Lotus position

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Mar 11, 2009 11:45 pm

Greetings,

I have no ability or interest in mastering any Lotus position.

Hell, I can't even touch my toes... not even close.

Enlightenment comes through the disentangling of the mind, not the tangling of legs.

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: Lotus position

Postby Tex » Thu Mar 12, 2009 12:36 am

If I can ask a parenthetical question without derailing the thread -- I've read more than once, on other more general Buddhism sites, that the full lotus position "has benefits" -- I assume they're talking about posture benefits, or do they mean something else, something more mystical or spiritual or that this particular position is more conducive to meditative attainments and so on?

I only ask because if there isn't a very compelling reason to sit full lotus then I'll continue to have no interest in attempting it.
"The serene and peaceful mind is the true epitome of human achievement."-- Ajahn Chah, Living Dhamma

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Re: Lotus position

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Mar 12, 2009 12:44 am

Greetings Tex,

Apparently it has stability / centre-of-balance benefits.

Other Buddhist traditions might also give explanations involving energy flows and such.

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


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
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Re: Lotus position

Postby appicchato » Thu Mar 12, 2009 1:24 am

retrofuturist wrote:Enlightenment comes through the disentangling of the mind, not the tangling of legs.

:thumbsup:
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Re: Lotus position

Postby Dhammanando » Thu Mar 12, 2009 1:36 am

How to Grow a Lotus: http://zenmontpellier.site.voila.fr/eng/lotus/lotuseng.html

The Zennists are very good if you need advice on sitting posture.

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Re: Lotus position

Postby SeerObserver » Thu Mar 12, 2009 5:48 am

retrofuturist wrote:Enlightenment comes through the disentangling of the mind, not the tangling of legs.
Tex wrote:If I can ask a parenthetical question without derailing the thread -- I've read more than once, on other more general Buddhism sites, that the full lotus position "has benefits" -- I assume they're talking about posture benefits, or do they mean something else, something more mystical or spiritual or that this particular position is more conducive to meditative attainments and so on?

I only ask because if there isn't a very compelling reason to sit full lotus then I'll continue to have no interest in attempting it.

This has always been my response to the issue. The most important position in meditation is that of the mind, not the legs. But it does not seem as if the OP in this case was obsessing over it, they just wanted to give it a try and see.

This position is not one I am able to negotiate either. I have actually gone so far as to have friends of mine sit in this position in front of me and I would watch what order they did this and that to get into the position. We also talked about where tension was being felt when moving into it.

I've read this too and have understood possible posture benefits to be conducive with respect to the duration of sessions. As for benefits into the latter realm you describe, I have always wondered the same thing but not come across anything to that effect. It would not be surprising to hear that such a position, especially taking center of gravity and body symmetry into account, would be conducive to energy flow and what have you. This is not to say that it is requisite, of course.
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Re: Lotus position

Postby jcsuperstar » Thu Mar 12, 2009 7:23 am

good posture makes for good blood flow so your legs dont fall asleep, thats about the only reason i would recomend lotus or 1/2 lotus, actually im not really sure how i sit, it might be burmese, or half lotus, i can do full lotus but it hurts my ankles... but i have muscular legs so maybe my thighs are too big? i dont know... no teacher i've had has ever said anything about my legs, and i've had strict teachers, they've always been more concerned with sitting up straight...
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the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: Lotus position

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Mar 12, 2009 2:18 pm

I have trouble sitting in the Burmese style never mind the lotus, my knee muscles discoordinate in that posture but there is a video on you tube somewhere
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Re: Lotus position

Postby Ravana » Fri Mar 13, 2009 5:49 am

I believe Hindu yogis believe that the lotus position has mystical powers, but as far as I know Buddha never mentioned any special properties of the position. So aside from the increased stability, I don't think there's much to be reaped from it.
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Re: Lotus position

Postby nathan » Fri Mar 13, 2009 11:39 am

I am comfortable in the posture. It is about equally comfortable to several looser variants. I am most comfortable in the posture when sitting relatively motionless the longest. It has real advantages for circulation and postural support beyond an hour and is the only comfortable posture after about three hours. I can see how this posture is a relatively stable base for long term periods of jhana and long periods of vipassana. It is not suitable at all for many people and I don't think it is suitable for anyone when there is extensive tension in the legs, circulation is very poor or if there are unsuitable conditions in the body such as after various kinds of injuries. Unless you feel the need for long sitting I don't think there is a significant advantage to developing the posture unless you want to. There are looser postures that are comfortable enough for sitting periods of an hour or less. I find hour long sits with stretching and walking intervals are as effective as longer periods of only sitting.

If using this posture or a variant of it the important thing is to have a solid base at the base of the spine on the floor and no elevation of the hips. That should sit as flat as possible. The pelvis should be held up straight and the rest of the spine rests naturally on that with a slight s curve. It is important to align the neck well too. This all settles in better on long sits and that is one advantage of long sits but if you are not willing to confront some fairly incredible forms of pain then don't push the long sits. The pain is not going to harm you but it is what happens when you sit still for a long time. It has a net effect that is very beneficial but it is not a practice for the meek.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: Lotus position

Postby clw_uk » Fri Mar 13, 2009 12:19 pm

Thanks for the link Bhante


There's really no need to get into the lotus position, or even the half lotus. I've read about meditators who have caused serious, irreversible damage to their joints after years of forcing themselves into the lotus position. Please do not hurt yourself!



I wont force my body into it (looks like it cant do it anyway lol) just wanted to try and get into it to see if it has any greater benefits than my current sitting position, just out of curiosity really


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Re: Lotus position

Postby kc2dpt » Fri Mar 13, 2009 1:44 pm

I found this article to be very interesting.

"Zazen is a "proper posture required" practice, and if you don't do zazen in the proper posture you are missing out on 90% of the practice."
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.
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Re: Lotus position

Postby nathan » Fri Mar 13, 2009 4:47 pm

That is an interesting article. Very 'Zen' attitudes all around. I thought after reading it that I should add that the pain I referred to is a result of any posture that is held still for a long time. I do think that lotus does more than most postures to manage that pain from remaining still during vipassana, or zazen if you like, but I don't think lotus just makes that phenomena disappear somehow. I would agree with the writer that there is much to recommend it for extended use during vipassana or for 'themeless' meditations. I also continue to think that it is not as significant a practical priority for many people as the writer seems to be insisting. Any good posture and good technique is a step in the right direction and given the misuse of the body that is so endemic these days and especially in the affluent parts of the world it is not surprising that evolving appropriately into a more suitable posture is likely to take some time and consistent commitment to that effort. Taking a less cautious approach is not something I would recommend to most people given what is usually fairly obvious about their physical conditions. With gentle exploration and patient attention any posture is probably possible. Some kind of more comprehensive practices like yoga and so on go a long ways to hastening that development in the most beneficial ways. Aside from a gentle paced development, forcing anything to change in the body is something I would discourage because unless the difference between stress and trauma is very clear one can fail to discern the important differences and this has a cumulative significance for the resultant conditions in the body.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: Lotus position

Postby Yeshe » Fri Mar 13, 2009 9:02 pm

clw_uk wrote:Ive being trying to get into this position but find it impossible, has anyone else had this trouble?

Anyone know any good stretching tips?


I advised my kids to keep stretching into adult life and maintain what they had. Too may of us don't.
First tip - learn as a child and don't lose it.

In the same way, the Indians and Japanese may be used to 'lotus' or 'seiza' postures from childhood and have no problem adopting them.

For a westerner unused to sitting on the floor, to try to adopt an alien and painful position is daft. The postures mentioned were 'natural' ways of sitting in a particular culture. Our 'natural' way of sitting usually involves a chair and as far as I know, a straight back is perfectly possible whilst sitting that way.

OK, so I don't think 'lotus' postures are essential for good meditation or enlightenment. However, I have spent many hundreds of painful hours in seiza so I am not really in a position to say anything is 'wrong' - but is it necessary?

I have taught my kids to sit on the floor and I hope that, unlike me, they will not lose that natural ability.

In case anyone wonders about the wisdom of learning how to sit on the floor, there is now evidence* that westerners suffer far more falls than those used to sitting on the floor, so perhaps we should all throw out the chairs and get 'grounded'. ;)

For those who want to learn sitting in lotus or seiza but have no experience of it, I suggest Yoga and Japanese martial arts respectively. I can sit in seiza for hours, but friends in India laugh at my pathetic attempts to make my hips and knees to contort.

I also observe a difference between men and women, the latter seeming far more able to rotate hip joints outwards and adopt a full lotus. My 'party trick' is the opposite, inward rotation. Is that generally true about the gender differences, I wonder?

* I read the evidence, but can't recall the source, which was stats relating to the elderly.
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Re: Lotus position

Postby green » Sat Mar 14, 2009 12:17 am

In Buddhism, there's no requirement of the lotus position. Sitting meditation is just one kind, there's also walking meditation, lying down meditation and meditation meditation all the time meditation...which is right effort :smile:
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The Lotus - Getting there.

Postby adamposey » Sun Oct 18, 2009 4:20 am

This may be the wrong forum for this discussion, but I read that having a firm posture is absolutely important for proper meditation (so that the mind can be free of concerns about balance, etc.,) and that the half lotus and full lotus postures are inherently the best suited because they provide those three points of contact to leave you perfectly firm.

So, here's my question then, is there perhaps an exercise routine, a series of stretches, etc., that can (over time) help a person to reach the full lotus? My understanding is that the full lotus is primarily achieved by opening the hips to a greater range of movement. So, if one goal is to achieve the full lotus over time what's a reasonable plan for getting there?
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Re: The Lotus - Getting there.

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun Oct 18, 2009 4:40 am

http://www.ashtanganeworleans.com/Old%2 ... usGrow.htm

Not sure if the exercises shown really work, but have heard of this website with the instructions. I did martial arts (many years ago) and one of the exercises was to slowly spread the legs out while standing, attempting to get as close to the ground as possible with your right leg off to the right and straight and the left leg off to the left and straight.

Image

But on another note, the posture is not that important. Ananda attained enlightenment as he went to lie down for sleep. Just before his head hit the pillow, he attained the final and perfect enlightenment. I have been to many temples and meditation centers over the years and I rarely see people sitting in full lotus.
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Lotus Posture

Postby TiltedSquare » Mon Oct 03, 2011 10:01 pm

I've always meditated in half-lotus position, and have just recently tried getting in full lotus (not for meditation...yet). I'm having a little trouble though. There is pain from my upper ankle bone digging into the bottom leg. Also, there is a constant feeling that my legs are going to come unlocked –– As if the bottom leg is slipping downward. I'm guessing the latter has to due with flexibility, or lack there of.

So, my question is, what is a solution to the ankle problem, and what are some good ways to stretch and prepare myself for full lotus posture? Thanks in advance.
Last edited by David N. Snyder on Mon Oct 03, 2011 10:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: moderator note: merged with two other threads on lotus positions
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