How do you sit?

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How do you sit?

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Forum: Dharma Overground Discussion Forum

Hi,

Tarin (theprisonergreco) and I were talking and realized it would be pretty fun for everyone to share their postures/positions. Might actually be pragmatic too if it can give people new ideas!

I sit half lotus a lot, but I mainly sit in this abomination of a position: http://img145.imageshack.us/i/060709120600.jpg/

It's best for sitting on ledges with no back support. It also looks weird, so I dig it. Now I just need to name it something crazy! And yeah, those are my legs.

Trent
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RE: How do you sit?

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
i have 3 ways of sitting:

1- for long haul sits, i use a pretty traditional form, the 'burmese style' or 'tailor style' - cross legged but one leg in front of the other so they dont touch. its easy for me to stay a long time like this cos my knees go to the ground naturally. and with a little wedged support under my butt, i get this tripod effect and feel weightless real fast.

2- when in a chair, leaning against the back rest, with legs out real casual-like. great for opening up body flow.

3- when against a tree (or smth similar like a wall), back against it and legs either crossed normally or out or one knee up, looks like im just chilling (i am). usually the result of spontaneous sits.

great thread!

edit: actually my legs do touch a bit, the inner leg's foot is lightly tucked into the outer leg's thigh and back of knee and outer foot's heel lightly touches inner leg's shin. sorry if there was any confusion florian
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RE: How do you sit?

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
On the floor: "burmese style" like Tarin, but with legs touching. (I'll give the "not touching" version a try, didn't even think about it, but it makes sense.) I used to sit in full lotus, but after knee surgery last year (due to an accident, not sitting in this posture) I found burmese style much less of a strain on the joint. I don't use any cushions.

In a chair, I don't use the back rest, and have my feet, lower legs, and thighs at right angles. I use a cushion (or folded sweater or whatever is close at hand) when sitting on a chair if the seat is very flat. Some office chairs can be tilted. Some stools have a curved seat, and can be sat on sideways with advantage.

I also meditate lying down, though that was challenging at first, because I'd fall asleep almost instantly. After some experimenting, I now use the "reclining Buddha" pose, legs on top of each other and angled for support, head resting on the outstretched lower arm, which is palm-down. This puts a bit of tension on the arm and shoulder, which keeps me awake fairly reliably. I also experimented with lying on my back, with various cushions to support my neck, but I always fell asleep.

A good third of my meditation time is walking meditation, but in a very casual style, strolling along a river near where I work. I keep my eyes lowered, which has the bonus effect that people approaching head-on will step out of my way when they can't make eye contact.

I've always wanted to try standing meditation. Any advice?

Cheers,
Florian
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RE: How do you sit?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: SoManyThoughts

I sit on a zafu in seiza posture. I can't manage any kind of cross-legged variant-- my knees won't go anywhere near the ground. As for hands, they're either folded loosely in my lap or else I put one hand flat on each thigh. I've tried the zazen mudra but it seems to create too much tension in my arms to hold it.
Wet Paint, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: How do you sit?

Posts: 10 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
I usually sit in a tight half lotus. My hip ligaments are freakishly loose and I have minimal core muscle strength, so I feel like I need to bind up my legs and lower back to get consistent support without having to think about it too much. And nearly all of my sitting is done in bed, right before sleep ... if I sit on the floor I have to use a cushion, otherwise my lower leg goes dead numb. Maybe I should try the Burmese style for that, and see if it helps.

If I'm really tired, I will start in the half lotus, and bend forward to rest my head on the bed. It is comfortable enough, but hard to fall completely asleep in, and limits my sitting time (appropriately) because my legs go numb after a while.

Sometimes I meditate lying down (on my back), but that's usually if I'm experiencing strong aversion to meditation in general, and is not as effective for me, so I am trying to work through that phase.
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RE: How do you sit?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: ccasey

Preferred choice is Burmese posture with lower back support (backjack) or pillow against a wall. For long sits, I need to extend my legs, so back support is helpful. It took several months to learn that I needed to keep my left leg (which kept falling asleep) in closer to the body, then it doesn't fall asleep. It felt unnatural to do it at first, because I had always sat with my right leg in closer, so I resisted the change at first. But after committing to putting the other leg out, circulation improved throughout the body and sluggishness disappeared. I often do reclining meditation as well.

At the Zen center, they do not allow for back support, so I sit on 2 zafus and alternate between the Burmese and seiza postures. The additional height reduces the pressure on my knees.
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RE: How do you sit?

Posts: 310 Join Date: 8/24/09 Recent Posts
I usually sit with my left leg on top of the right (or vica verca) forming a triangle at the base a sought of basterdised half lotus but its stable and ok on the comfort, sometimes near the 3/4 mark I will swap legs. I also spend a fair bit of time in a chair (train travel -just have to watch the corners) meditating . One of my favourites is at lunch time sitting under a big tree in a park listening to the city.
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RE: How do you sit?

Posts: 14 Join Date: 8/26/09 Recent Posts
I most often sit like this:

http://www.kwanumzen.com/practice/sitting/sitting-burmese1.jpg

And I stand like this:

http://taijiyang.files.wordpress.com/2007/11/artikel_zhan-zhuang_2.jpg

And I lie down in a basic on-the-back corpse-like posture
Wet Paint, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: How do you sit?

Posts: 3 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
I sit Burmese style. Years back I sit on my mattress, using a big pillow as support. Then I had a hard time when I went to a retreat centre with thin cushion and hard floor. From then, I decide to train myself on thin cushion and hard floor so that I can sit in any centre.

I put my right leg in front. Because my right calf cannot rest flat on the floor (about an inch above ground), I will feel intense pain on the calf toward the end of any 2nd sitting of the day. It happens like clock work at the 35min mark of 2nd sitting.

Recently, I give up that this pain will ever go away. And decided to use a cushion to support my calf area.

Putting my right leg inside will cause knee pain.
Wet Paint, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: How do you sit?

Posts: 2 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
I haven't quite found the perfect posture yet. I've got nicely twistable legs and I'm able to easily enter the full lotus position, but I find that my upper leg falls asleep very quickly that way and the prickly pain of restoring sensation is not my favorite way to spend the first two minutes after finishing practice. Too bad, because the stability of it is amazing. Burmese spreads my thighs too wide and gives me cramps, so I've settled for a tight (sometimes resting my foot on my thigh instead of my calf) half lotus. If I use a high enough cushion I can get both knees on the ground and feel relatively stable without giving me leg pains, although I can never get my back quite as straight as with the full lotus. Still, it's the only position in which I can manage an hour or two without serious discomfort.
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RE: How do you sit?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: pookee

Indian style on a cushion or two. Occasionally I sit on a little wooden bench with my feet tucked under.
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RE: How do you sit?

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
I started to practice sitting cross legged mostly to appease my vanity (to look the part). Once I realized I was doing this I made a deal with myself to meditate in whatever position I found myself in (although laying down can only be achieved after a good nights sleep otherwise I will fall asleep). Learning to be flexible about my meditation posture means I can meditate anywhere unnoticed if in public.
Wet Paint, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: How do you sit?

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/24/09 Recent Posts
Prefer the sitting bench. Carolina morning has some nice sustainable designs. I found I can sit for a long time in this position
http://www.zafu.net/benches.html

On chair, without the back rest, legs/feet at right angles.

Tried full lotus for while, then hip started to bother me, once I switched to bench this went away. Burmese style lotus is also a very nice way to off load the joints.

Good post.
Wet Paint, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: How do you sit?

Posts: 5 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
burmese style - after about 20 minutes, my front leg would fall asleep. After a year or so, I realized it wasn't going to stop and I started switching legs every 20 mins. Then recently I learned that if I propped up the front leg with a towel, I could sit without it falling asleep.

for long-haul sits, I like sitting in a chair, with the seat slightly tilted forward.

working on lotus this year, but mostly just because I want to add more flexibility into my workouts. if I make lotus, that's great.
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RE: How do you sit?

Posts: 19 Join Date: 7/7/09 Recent Posts
Why does this matter?

Seriously.
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RE: How do you sit?

Posts: 97 Join Date: 5/6/09 Recent Posts
Trent made his purpose clear: "Tarin (theprisonergreco) and I were talking and realized it would be pretty fun for everyone to share their postures/positions. Might actually be pragmatic too if it can give people new ideas!"

For fun, and for practical application.

Jackson
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RE: How do you sit?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: pookee

cmarti, Knowing non-essential things about others makes us feel closer. It reinforces the knowledge that there is flesh and blood behind each, which may reduce trolling, negativity, etc.

There is also the possibility that we could discover a pattern or correlation between meditation posture and progress, personality, or something other unexpected variable.

And, baring any of that, it's harmless.
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RE: How do you sit?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: msj123

Let me pass on some tips I found helpful from Bhante Rahula:

1. Sit with the chin up, parallel to the floor.
2. Put your hands in a position such that your shoulders are pushed back.
3. Allow the lower curve of your spine to be. Align your sacrum, between your shoulder blades, and back of your head in a straight line. You can check by have some one put a ruler against your back, or sitting against a wall.
4. Center yourself over your hips. You can do this by shifting back until can go either back or forth. A lot of people feel as though they are about to fall over.
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RE: How do you sit?

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Oohhh snap, someone woke up on the wrong side of the A&P!!
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RE: How do you sit?

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
off topic reply is off topic

(and you're the OP!)
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RE: How do you sit?

Posts: 82 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
I have an unhappy lower back and inflexible hips. I've been working on both areas, and things are steadily improving, but for years, I've done all my sitting on the edge of a bed, with a pillow between my legs. My legs dangle over, sometimes touching the floor, sometimes not, ankles crossed. Good, floating posture otherwise.
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RE: How do you sit?

Posts: 138 Join Date: 8/25/09 Recent Posts
ive been sitting half-lotus -> then switching to chair, then -> switching back to half-lotus

then sometimes just chair.

nowadays im starting to sit full-lotus. I noticed my legs loosened up after a couple of yoga sessions. i think if i keep stretching regularly, then i will eventually have no problems with full-lotus. w/c i like, i feel comforatble too and it feels stable on the back.

i ussed to have my Hands on my knees, my zen teacher emphasizes the buddha mudra with the egg shaped. though i found it initially hard i try to do that. having those 2 thumbs in an unrelaxed position has its pros and cons but im trying with it. says it helps the energy flow better.
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RE: How do you sit?

Posts: 19 Join Date: 7/7/09 Recent Posts
"Oohhh snap, someone woke up on the wrong side of the A&P!!"

Actually, I missed the original statement of purpose so my bad. I was just truly curious..... but now you've provided me with a great example of how even the more advanced among us can fall victim to the tyranny of thoughts and projections ;-)
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RE: How do you sit?

Posts: 4 Join Date: 9/7/09 Recent Posts
"I used to have my Hands on my knees, my zen teacher emphasizes the buddha mudra with the egg shaped. though i found it initially hard i try to do that. having those 2 thumbs in an unrelaxed position has its pros and cons but im trying with it. says it helps the energy flow better."

Is that the dhyana mudra, where your thumbs meet at the tips over your palms? I've used that for years as the default hand position in mediatation but for some reason I always thought, with a kind of stubborn persistence, that I was doing it in the opposite way suggested (thought it was left palm over right). I wasn't. Here's what Shinzen Young says in response to whether you have to hold your hands in a certain way:

"No in the sense that you don't have to believe dogmatic hype like "you'll never get enlightenment if you place the right hand over the left because the left is yin, and since Cosmic Samadhi is a yin state, the left must be kept on top"

On the other hand, "subtle is significant." Hand gestures (mudras) produce sensations and if you are sensitive to those sensations, you can use them to deepen your state. In my sect of ordination, Shingon (Japanese Vajrayana) there's an expression "ichimitsu." It means in essence that even a single mudra gesture or a single mantra syllable could enlighten you if you developed sufficient sensitivity to it. ...
I guess the upshot of what I'm saying is that you can make how you place your hands as significant or trivial as you wish. Explore for yourself."

Good advice, eh?

Mark
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RE: How do you sit?

Posts: 4 Join Date: 9/7/09 Recent Posts
Oh yes, after years of pain I now sit on a low couch with my legs crossed before me and a pillow in the small of my back.

Mark
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RE: How do you sit?

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
OK, my first post in discussions here... let's see if I do it right. ;)
My sitting posture often depends on where I'm sitting and under what circumstances. I'm accustomed to meditating in various situations such as when sitting in a car (as passenger) simply tilt seat back (opens space for diaphragmatic breathing) hands resting on thighs, palms down.

When on cushion, I sit in full or half lotus, or Qigong Female Deer (aka: Siddhasana - Indian Yoga posture).

I use to do a lot of Zhan Zhuang (Qigong Standing Meditation).

And like Florian ("Monkeymind"), I practice whilst lying down. Dozing off isn't a problem if meditate in the day or early eve. Supine position, hands resting on lower dan tian - left hand over right, palms down, left thumb under right palm loosely touching Lao gong point. Seems very natural to me and allows for maximum abdominal /diaphragmatic breathing. Also allows me to go deeper in meditation without any attention to maintaining an upright posture. - I suppose there's pro's and con's to this.

I'd really like to try using a Zazen bench.
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RE: How do you sit?

Posts: 19 Join Date: 7/7/09 Recent Posts
Welcome, Khara. Thanks for joining in!

- Chris
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RE: How do you sit?

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Thank you, Chris - for the nice welcome. emoticon
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RE: How do you sit?

Posts: 82 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
By the way, as someone who has yet to "find their seat" after several years of meditating, I'm always curious what other people do. I've played with the "nada chair" (http://www.nadachair.com/), those big exercise balls, and other weird things. Next on my list is a kneeling chair.

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