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Long sits on a daily basis

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Long sits on a daily basis
Answer
6/8/13 1:53 PM
I was hoping to get some opinions on taking longer sits of around two to four hours on a daily basis. For example, the risk of a chronic injury to the knees/back or having too much psychological/emotional material come up in daily life. And what could be done to reduce the effect or chance of these risks. Also, the difference in effect/progress between, say: 'Sitting for three hours straight' and 'sitting for an hour then walking meditation for an hour then sitting for an hour'. Specifically if someone were doing vipassana. Thanks!

RE: Long sits on a daily basis
Answer
6/8/13 2:20 PM as a reply to Aduro T.
Very low likelihood of doing damage. Of all possible damageable items the knees are the most vulnerable. Just stretch them when possible.

RE: Long sits on a daily basis
Answer
6/8/13 2:47 PM as a reply to Aduro T.
Is there any particular reason you have to sit for two or three hours? Could you alternate between sitting and walking every 30 minutes, like you suggest? Transition between the two practices with intense mindfulness.

RE: Long sits on a daily basis
Answer
6/8/13 3:28 PM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
My assumption was that sitting straight through would create a greater momentum of mindfulness. I also get the impression that longer sits result in working with deeper issues more quickly. Either because they are brought up in your emotions or thoughts in meditation, or because the mindfulness penetrates more deeply. So, If I am going to be spending two to four hours on meditation in a day, I figure that I might as well optimize it. I also would hope that this would create the momentum I would need to stay focused for the day at work. I suspect that I have other motivations that I am less cognizant of.

So, these are my assumptions about long sits, from what I've heard about from people who have done it. I'm sure that quality of meditation is one of the more important things, and simply 'enduring' a long sit does not mean you are getting a lot out of it.

RE: Long sits on a daily basis
Answer
6/8/13 3:41 PM as a reply to Aduro T.
Less time between sits definitely results in greater momentum. However, getting up and moving around every hour or so can help with alertness, and does not have to dissipate much mindfulness if you do a simple task in the meantime, avoid talking to people or anything else involving complex mental or verbal fabrications, etc.

Mindfulness won't penetrate in and of itself. You need a direction for the meditation for that to happen. The Agendas of Mindfulness.

RE: Long sits on a daily basis
Answer
6/8/13 4:31 PM as a reply to Aduro T.
Make sure you get you analogous "waidan yang cultivation time" to balance the meditation time. I learned a set called xing shen zhuang that was basically designed to tackle any potential physical issues from long sessions of lotus. It does wonders for my back also. Bagua circle walking is great...many methods, that particular is just find something that fits you well - I just mentioned it because its important to have in there.

If you cant drop the flow of air beneath the threshold of turbulence in your air passageways, figure that out before worrying about these long durations of meditation.

the length of breath is dependent on how coherent and harmonious the structures are - once the structures move harmoniously, then work with the energy potentials directly. I would most often begin meditation by first relaxing 5, 10, 15 minutes, and once the heartmind settled a bit and the breath calm, move on to dantien breathing to spend a bit of the session adding angular momentum to the energypotential there - this carries forth through the session, so once stillness in movement is achieved, on to longevity breathing protocol and lengthen the breaths, but mainly try to perform a "perfect breath." this anapana can (and should) be carried out well past the breath externally disappearing, well past the flow of air dropping beneath the threshold of turbulence, even after that there is still a subtle waxing and waning. so both long duration breath as well as session time is partially dependent on the energy potential you build. like turning a prayer wheel, I think it is important to spend part of one's session with that, followed by deep stillness.

to accelerate that, locate the ni wan, bring the attention in there - akin to withdrawing the senses, logically arresting the energy potential that the cranial nerves utilize - spend some time with that, it is marvelous - then a la secret of the golden flower "find the sunlight in the chamber of water" at the lower dantien. that will also make dantien breathing superlatively more effective - basically 'warping the energypotential' there and aiming it - one can also utilize the reverse-looking method of the slight eye cross, having the front of the abdomen just within the lower peripheral, and connect the two energetic poles via the gentle but purposeful focus of awareness. then as your energy potential begins to grow over many sessions, add in the microcosmic orbit to propagate the potential and cleanse/comb over the channels with it.

cultivate non attachment, what context would psychological material have to detrimentally affect daily life? drop it away, such things should not perturb your consciousness. realize the body's response for what it is when it arises, attenuate signals when necessary, and leave them behind.

how much time are you spending in cultivation now, how long are your current sitting sessions? how often during the day?

move in the morning, light settling. move in the afternoon, moderate settling. relax at night, settle deeply.

RE: Long sits on a daily basis
Answer
6/8/13 10:48 PM as a reply to Dan Cooney.
Hi Dan. I have a lot of respect for the Taoist lineages that I think your post draws from. However, my initial reaction to your post is that I don't feel like I have the body awareness or the guides necessary to successfully do most of the things you mentioned. I could be wrong, but that sounds like it is for people who are either very advanced in meditation or have a competent guide they can meet with in person. Perhaps I will give some of it a go though. For the most part, my efforts in meditation have been in the fairly simplistic endeavors of samatha and vipassana. I do plan to work on Eight Pieces of Brocade and Pilates though. Perhaps that fits the sort of physical niche that xing shen zhuang does?

Dan Cooney:
how much time are you spending in cultivation now, how long are your current sitting sessions? how often during the day?

move in the morning, light settling. move in the afternoon, moderate settling. relax at night, settle deeply.


About half of my sits are about an hour, followed by some walking meditation. I sit once or twice a day. Some days I only do one fairly short sit. About once per week I will do a longer sit of about 90 minutes to two hours. The longer sits are probably something that I would work up to.

RE: Long sits on a daily basis
Answer
6/8/13 11:07 PM as a reply to Aduro T.
I've often done eight pieces of brocade between sits. It's effective.

RE: Long sits on a daily basis
Answer
6/9/13 12:56 AM as a reply to Aduro T.
There is no fear of physical damage, you have to remember there are people/monks who sit very long periods. You will have discomforts that may feel like damage but it turns out it's just garbage that comes up, as you get cleaner you will be able to remain still for longer and longer periods of time.

With regard to being overwhelmed by emotion stuff coming up, simply take a break or go back to meditation on the breathe, it will chill you out.

For optimal meditation I suggest splitting however much time you have into 2 sits, 1 more and 1 evening.


-d

ps. be sure to sit in the same spot each day, it will charge the place up significantly

RE: Long sits on a daily basis
Answer
6/9/13 5:49 AM as a reply to Aduro T.
Aduro T:
Hi Dan. I have a lot of respect for the Taoist lineages that I think your post draws from. However, my initial reaction to your post is that I don't feel like I have the body awareness or the guides necessary to successfully do most of the things you mentioned. I could be wrong, but that sounds like it is for people who are either very advanced in meditation or have a competent guide they can meet with in person. Perhaps I will give some of it a go though. For the most part, my efforts in meditation have been in the fairly simplistic endeavors of samatha and vipassana. I do plan to work on Eight Pieces of Brocade and Pilates though. Perhaps that fits the sort of physical niche that xing shen zhuang does?

Dan Cooney:
how much time are you spending in cultivation now, how long are your current sitting sessions? how often during the day?

move in the morning, light settling. move in the afternoon, moderate settling. relax at night, settle deeply.


About half of my sits are about an hour, followed by some walking meditation. I sit once or twice a day. Some days I only do one fairly short sit. About once per week I will do a longer sit of about 90 minutes to two hours. The longer sits are probably something that I would work up to.

Body awareness is simply something you can cultivate - its almost like inventing tools and putting them into a toolbox, some you use every day, some only at certain times. I had an ok background in western anatomy and then did a lot of anapana work, studying things like YMAA embryonic breathing - I made pretty good gains just with that alone and the healing sounds exercise when I first started out. I certainly didnt expect things like a strong metabolic boost once my sessions were averaging 45, 50 second breaths - its easy to fall back into worldliness though, I've achieved and fell beneath that at least 6-8 different time spans and the ramp up I get those same phenomena each time - but its like riding a bike, whereas it took me probably a good solid 3 months of nightly 1-2 hour meditations once I had a decent grasp on these ingredients, successive times it has been easier and I've had correlating phenomena happen more quickly (as in my breaths dont have to be as long before getting those same events.)

So I often advocate a sort of "rote anapana" method of training and analyzing the breath - like that first time I reached such marvelous stillness, I literally sat there for months trying to execute a perfect breath, figuring out what the successive glass floors were, if you will. I will give a quick rundown for you of my troubleshooting...


One thing I never saw anyone teach in my searching was "how to begin a breath." That may sound like an odd concept, but as you slow things down further...and further...you being to realize that some of the processes are simply not harmonious - its the same reason Tom Bisio said try to start out taking 30 seconds for a step in his bagua circle walking neigung book - you really wind up *needing* to really figure out the motion at a very granular level.

Even something so simple as the descent of the diaphragm when inhaling - how does that begin? I found out that the nose, sinuses - the air passageways all serve as a buffering mechanism for the air pressure - so I devised an activation exercise of sorts to feel out each bit of where one may exert muscular influence over the air passageways by issuing a strong response there - so pull sharply at the tip of the nose, *sniff*...now move up into the nose, the sinuses (spend a little time with all of them, go easy on the sphenoid or it'll give you a headache!)...continue to back of throat, trachea, bronchi, the lungs themselves. Then from a position of action - derive inaction! Completely let go of all the air passageways. Do not use them to facilitate breath.

Doing that made me aware of the finer movement in the diaphragm - so in breathing we're taught to expand the belly, right - well, that says nothing of the diaphragm. As I slowed my breaths further and further, having discovered how to let go of the air passageways - I encountered a single large hiccup! I slowed everything down to the point where the competing musculotendonal tension front vs back was letting itself play out and the hiccup was just that competing tension resolving itself. Aha - I never knew that I was basically descending the diaphragm from the middle of the structure.

Enter "ok, so how is one truly supposed to begin a breath?" Let's have a quick look:



Notice the leaflets of the diaphragm (L&R crura) attach to the anterior lumbar spine, somewhat adjacent to the psoas muscles. Good morning, Anchorpoint!!!

So to resolve the issue of competing tensions, start at one end and propagate towards the other! For lying down I teach imagining one's spine is a train track, and you have a little train to drive along it that is your breath - start at the solar plexus level and drive down towards the sacrum on inhale, then back it up on exhale. The breath should not go as high as the heart or as low as the genitals.

By utilizing that anchorpoint for the breath, the diaphragm descends smoothly - and most importantly, it move smoothly past the foramina in the diaphragm - the holes through which pass important feedback generating structures like the Aorta and Vena Cava, and the vagus nerve also goes through the esophageal foramen. (So this streamlining actually helps settle the heart, too.)

In breathing "deep into the abdomen" this is where the very energetically significant psoas comes into play - I often say to descend at the junction of the diaphragm and psoas - by including the psoas, the breath properly descends low enough, since if you examine the connection points of the diaphragm, one feels as though he may breathe more deeply than the physical connection there.

One last component, the perineum - a veritable closed door martial secret for generations because of the extra power it adds.

Now focus on Timing. My troubleshooting is what led me to declare that "the fundamental 3 breathing mechanisms are the diaphragm, psoas, and perineum." Of course the front of the abdomen is a powerful "martial modifier" also, but consider that it lies along the ren-du loop and qi manifested there tends to readily enter the loop - as the breath slows further and becomes deeper - you dont even have to use the front of the abdomen for Longevity Breathing, that is the stage at which "the breath externally disappears."

It is also why when I teach reverse breathing I say dont bother worrying about compressing the front of the abdomen - heck half the time I see people describe that it only seems like a recipe for stagnation at the epigastrum emoticon That's also why I refer to the front of the abdomen as a "martial modifier" since if you're doing something like pushing a car, you need it to flex to manifest power - but even doing reverse breathing deeply, "the breathing externally disappears" and there is no need to move the front of the abdomen - hence my stating it is not one of the fundamental energetic mechanisms for breath! So when I do reverse breathing it almost feels like the lower dantien is "reeling in" both the diaphragm and perineum - curved toward and about the anchorpoint, of course.


So the above is simply my troubleshooting on streamlining the breath - even once the breath feels like it is no more, consider that anapanasati still has context! It includes the energetics too, so even once you no longer feel air moving in and out, you still need to keep up the focus of awareness and execute the mechanisms, or that sublime one pointed concentration falters.

This is getting long so I will wrap it up with the niwan stuff - my initial endeavors didnt include that point so weightedly but in the later stages when the breath and body were gone and there was just a subtle waxing and waning of shining awareness, I found that maintaining the focus of awareness at the niwan was a very key point - subsequently in later immersions of unfolding practice, I found that maintaining the focus really accelerates the other facets. It is a subtle "fixing the spirit at the seat of awareness"...find the source of the I-thought, repeat I-I-I to yourself and that should resonate at the niwan - it is like lighting a lamp and setting it in the middle of a room. The light does not exert itself in being there, it simply shines. I like to mention the 12 thieves hahaha...they say 5 thieves, but there's 12 Cranial Nerves so logically they sit on top of the other central and midbrain functions - so by bringing the awareness in, you are veritably arresting the energetic potential that the senses use - denying them energetic potential decreases noise, and if you've ever studied the brain before there are many logical loops in processing, so neural firing events are almost never singular, they happen in chains. By doing things like not facilitating breath with the air passageways, you stop that 40cps neural resonance coming from the olfactory bulb...by not moving and not listening it tamps down the resonances from the vestibulcochlear, by smoothing the breathing structures it is not simulating the vagus, etc, etc.

So from all of this energetic potential that your brain is now NOT using (@12x oxygen consumption rate as any other cell type for the brain!) and with no turbulence in the air passageways, tons of energy is not going into the formation of little air vortices, the flow of air begins to feel superfluid...

You've just recouped a TON of energy right there. This deep resultant stillness is the Foundation for jing-qi-shen....so by first acting with the shen it is directing the qi, when the deep stillness results, the plentiful additional energy very conspicuously goes towards "core processes," e.g. Jing, which once it becomes fully replenished reacts back on the qi levels and they soar, which in turn nourish the spirit, and the JQS loop has come full circle.

I have tried to describe as simply as possible...for it really is a rather simple process, its just all about putting in your own time doing the streamlining and investigation. I hope my efforts can help other cultivators in their journeys _/\_

Shamatha....Vispassana....clarity is easier when things are quiet ;)

RE: Long sits on a daily basis
Answer
6/9/13 7:03 AM as a reply to Dan Cooney.
Dan, I don't think I understood more than 10% of that, but it sounds fascinating. If you wrote a longer essay on it explaining your practical conclusions and how to practice them, I would definitely read it.

RE: Long sits on a daily basis
Answer
6/9/13 7:47 AM as a reply to fivebells ..
fivebells .:
Dan, I don't think I understood more than 10% of that, but it sounds fascinating. If you wrote a longer essay on it explaining your practical conclusions and how to practice them, I would definitely read it.
hehe that's what I thought I was doing emoticon I must have written this in various forms a hundred times already, I was considering writing a short book on it but I got sidetracked with my 3 dantiens microcosmic orbit analysis. I will get around to a comprehensive compilation of this stuff sooner or later.

I recommend simply googling any terms one doesnt fully understand - that should help tie in the concepts. I find that even if I do feel I understand a given term I will often look it up anyway since I will usually find some tangential tidbit that adds to the matrix of understanding.

If there are specific questions, by all means feel free to ask. emoticon

RE: Long sits on a daily basis
Answer
6/9/13 9:32 AM as a reply to Dan Cooney.
Well, I started to put together a list of questions, and came across this book, Qigong Meditation: Small Circulation, when investigating embryonic breathing. Perhaps I will have more questions if I finish reading it.

RE: Long sits on a daily basis
Answer
6/10/13 10:53 AM as a reply to Aduro T.
I meditate while sitting on an edge of a bed so knees is not an issue for me. What bothers me slightly is the possibility of embolism. Did you hear of someone suffering from embolism due to prolonged sitting meditation? There are people with predisposition to it, like the "Leiden mutation" and other trombophilias.

RE: Long sits on a daily basis
Answer
6/10/13 11:07 AM as a reply to Alesh Vyhnal.
HI Alesh,

I've given "the 'Leiden mutation' and other trombophilias" consideration, too. It is really fine to sit in a chair and also to do meditation in motion: when eating, just be with all that is eating; when walking, be with every sensate apperception of walking; one can note "thinking" when thinking arises.

To do this throughout an hour or a day or a weekend or a month is very, very helpful. Very much the same work of sitting meditation, very capable of showing the mind's minute arisings.

This focusing of the mind on sensate apperception with a light friendliness, receptivity, non-judgement wherever possible is a strong form of meditation, can definitely cause single-pointed concentration, particularly when motion comes to a brief halt after motion (like just sitting a moment after eating, sitting a moment on a bench after walking, waiting a moment while/after listening).

[edit: also, so-called shorter sits are excellent, so long as one is sincere in the effort. "Shorter" is whatever you need and can do sincerely, attentively, like watching a newborn. ]