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Masochist ?

Masochist ?
5/21/14 10:48 AM
One thing that never fails to amaze me with meditators is their insistance on sitting when sitting.  They all talk about the pain of sitting, fighting through the pain of sitting, having to stop and stretch because of the pain of sitting.  The origins of meditation came from people who sat on the floor all the time. They were used to it. They had no pain when sitting.  I have asked lots of meditators why they sit when on the cushion and not lie down. The usual replys are, because thats how you are supose to do it or to prevent falling asleep. 
   Maybe I have a natural flair for concentrating or something, but it is extremely rare for me to fall asleep when meditating in the corsp position. If on the odd occasion I do fall asleep, so be it, I will just carry on when I wake up.  I find if you feel sleepy before meditating, just have a sleep. There is only so much sleep the body will accept before you become wide awake.  I would say a vast amount of meditators are taking so much longer to progress purely because they sit in an uncomfortable position when meditating.  The key to sucessful meditating is concentration and the ability to let go (relax).  Why make the situation harder than it needs to be.

RE: Masochist ?
5/21/14 10:53 AM as a reply to Thor Jackson.
I got good luck in my lazy boy...but I tend to nod off a lot but sometimes thats just what is needed...other times not.

RE: Masochist ?
5/21/14 2:44 PM as a reply to Thor Jackson.
I agree, needless discomfort in postures that we are very not used to is not helpful. Some of what arises relates to the common stage of the Three Characteristics (3rd ñana), but plenty of it is just stiff knees, sore backs, and tight hips and leg muscles, none of which is likely to be any great source of profound insight for most and clearly a barrier to practice. At IMS they have chairs all around the outer edge for sitting for this reason, and they are quite popular.

If one does want to sit on the floor, it is usually just a question of experimentation with various sitting devices to allow one to find a posture that isn't that painful.

Even those large inflatable balls that people sit on as office chairs can be fun.

Benches work well for many people that don't do well with lower cushions.

Sometimes it is just a question of having a few cushions stacked on top of one another.

I personally meditate somewhat often in my relatively plush office chair from Staples, as that is just where I happened to find myself when I am in a mood to do more formal practice, and it works just fine.

I do often recline, though there is something about the energy level of the sitting posture that can help with some things, depending on the phase of practice, the energy level at that time, etc.

As I am prone to say in these circumstances, walking practice doesn't get enough attention, just as a general reminder, and standing practice even less so, when it is actually pretty cool once one gets used to it.

RE: Masochist ?
5/22/14 2:33 AM as a reply to Thor Jackson.
Hi Thor,

You seem to be assuming that people have unlimited amounts of time to devote to this activity. For those of us with jobs, and kids (perhaps young) and so on there is a very limited amount of tme to spend meditating. If I were to let myself fall asleep every time i sat down to meditate there simply wouldn't be any time left for meditating, taking a nap then continuing afterwards is simply not an option.

There are plenty of options to sitting on the ground apart from laying down. I personally mostly use a bench, but a plain old kitchen chair works just fine also.


RE: Masochist ?
5/22/14 1:33 PM as a reply to Thor Jackson.
I agree that there is certainly enough suffering present in each moment to attend to without adding additional pain and the potential resultant suffering that may ensue. Although,  I have personally found pain from sitting to be an important part of my practice, an important teacher.  I too, spend a great deal of time in the reclining position, meditating, particularly on retreat as the pain from sitting gets overwhelming at times for me (I have very tight hips, hamstrings, and calfs).  I do find it beneficial, however, to bare attention on pain (the kind that is not going to permanently injure you)  as it is a powerful metaphor for our existential situation.  I listened to a dharma talk on Dharma Seed the other day that addressed this.

In it, Kittisoro discusses having been in a great deal of pain in a hospital in Thailand while practicing as a monk with Ajahn Chah as his teacher.  He talks about asking Ajahn Chah about how to deal with the pain and his response was something like (it is important for us to know pain).

I do think there is a balance with this, a middle path. 

In general though, I think your point that there is enough suffering without creating more by sitting in painful positions is wise.  

RE: Masochist ?
5/22/14 4:19 PM as a reply to Thor Jackson.
Actually, sitting in an uncomfortable position hasn't been a hindrance in my experience.  Some of the quickest progress I made when I was learning the jhanas was when I just couldn't find a comfortable seat anywhere and I just had to accept the discomfort.  If letting go is your meditation "technique" then it might be worth trying a little masochism and seeing where it gets you. emoticon

That said, if it's always painful you probably won't want to keep doing it, so I agree that finding some alternate positions is a good idea. ^^  Daniel is right about standing!  I love to stand at my window and watch the soy beans blowing...

RE: Masochist ?
5/24/14 8:25 PM as a reply to Thor Jackson.
No pain no gain!

See Ajahn Naeb for the benefits of sitting and not moving.  She was not big on concentration/tranquility though.

I have found Goenka's strong determinations sits helpful, though initially it was just a struggle.

I believe that Shinzen Young said this was a fast way to enlightenment.

Sorry, I have no links for these, but if you are interested Google is your friend.