Getting In Position

All things related to beginning Zen Practice. Here is where to exchange information between those that have already started Zen training and those planning to do so.

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desert_woodworker
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Re: Getting In Position

Post by desert_woodworker » Thu Jul 26, 2018 2:07 pm

Marcel,

I'd agree that, in the awakened state, samadhi can come on (and persist) in any state of standing, sitting, or walking, and is never scared-away by any actions, movements, activity, or non-actions for the length of time that awakening stably persists (while supported by one's continuing practice: weeks, months).

But in order to awaken (in the first place), samadhi is best encouraged and "hosted" while one is in one of the close sitting postures (variants of Lotus; variants of Seiza).

It's noted in some circles of the Zen tradition (I think... ) that awakening often comes about as one suddenly awakes out of samadhi (as samadhi "breaks-up"). Thus, if one values a possibility to awaken, it can be helpful to prepare the ground, and to enable and to cultivate the samadhi states, and this seems best done in the traditional postures, which have become traditional for this reason, not because it's "just the way that people [who didn't have chairs... ] used to sit" (in my reasoned opinion).

A good package-deal we have, here/there.

So, where does that leave us? Oh, yes; >>-----> cultivate a sitting posture that your teacher recommends which he/she sees is possible for you, in the current state of one's body, and as it can develop through practice and as a result of practice. I.e., don't just automatically "default" to a chair. If you do, 'de fault' may be your own! ;)

:hide:

--Joe
"Ignorance is to be ignorant of one's original mind." - Ma Tsu

"Liberation is awakening to one's original nature." - Ma Tsu

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lindama
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Re: Getting In Position

Post by lindama » Thu Jul 26, 2018 2:40 pm

teachers sit in chairs, I know several.

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desert_woodworker
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Re: Getting In Position

Post by desert_woodworker » Thu Jul 26, 2018 3:04 pm

lindama wrote:
Thu Jul 26, 2018 2:40 pm
teachers sit in chairs, I know several.
Sure; maybe they didn't used to in their younger days.

My current Soto teacher sits in a chair; he just had two knee-replacements (the progressive knee degradation was initiated by old Basketball injuries, ...not from Lotus or Seiza challenges). ;) Heal-up, Sensei!

Best wishes to Georgi!, developing good cushions, and developing the legs.

:namaste:
"Ignorance is to be ignorant of one's original mind." - Ma Tsu

"Liberation is awakening to one's original nature." - Ma Tsu

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fuki
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Re: Getting In Position

Post by fuki » Thu Jul 26, 2018 7:26 pm

desert_woodworker wrote:
Thu Jul 26, 2018 2:07 pm

:hide:
:lol:

Nothing to disagree with Joe, but was just sharing to be(w)aware of not teaching oneself contraction (forcibly practising through pain which can cause chronical injuries) which some students do (like I did) and unfortunately some teachers teach it too. Ofcourse one would especially when young and healthy would cultivate a posture according to "tradition" if possible. Would be silly to in advance rule anything out.
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WoodsyLadyM
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Re: Getting In Position

Post by WoodsyLadyM » Thu Jul 26, 2018 8:19 pm

lindama wrote:
Wed Jul 25, 2018 8:36 pm
Georgei.... I've seen cushions that have the shape that you created... Gomden/Shambala cushion... it consists of some firm foam and is as high as what you created. trying it out, I thought it was comfortable and doable.

https://www.samadhicushions.com/gomden- ... /c-500.htm
I used to sit at my local Shambhala center on gomdens but I think they caused problems with my pelvis. For the longest time, until I found a decent chiropractor, I couldn't sit, even in a chair, because it was excruciating. I had to lay on my back to meditate. But this is just my experience and most people might be able to sit on them just fine. It wasn't until I began sitting with the local Zen center that I learned to sit "correctly," on a zafu. Image

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desert_woodworker
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Re: Getting In Position

Post by desert_woodworker » Thu Jul 26, 2018 9:57 pm

fuki wrote:
Thu Jul 26, 2018 7:26 pm
desert_woodworker wrote:
Thu Jul 26, 2018 2:07 pm

:hide:
:lol:

Nothing to disagree with Joe, but was just sharing to be(w)aware of not teaching oneself contraction (forcibly practising through pain which can cause chronical injuries) which some students do (like I did) and unfortunately some teachers teach it too. Ofcourse one would especially when young and healthy would cultivate a posture according to "tradition" if possible. Would be silly to in advance rule anything out.
As a Yoga teacher since 1980, and a teacher of Sheng Yen's Buddhist Yoga and exercises for Ch'an Retreat since that same year, I would not mislead anyone to proceed to injury. Also, many people -- most? -- are smart enough to interpret pain as a warning sign. This is why, here, I HAVE ADVISED PEOPLE TO ATTEND YOGA CLASSES AND TO ASK THE TEACHER FOR ASANAS WHICH WILL HELP. Please don't feign ignorance, as if you haven't read what I've written. But your second and third sentences are good.

--Joe

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desert_woodworker
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Re: Getting In Position

Post by desert_woodworker » Thu Jul 26, 2018 10:12 pm

WLM,
WoodsyLadyM wrote:
Thu Jul 26, 2018 8:19 pm
It wasn't until I began sitting with the local Zen center that I learned to sit "correctly," on a zafu.
This is wonderful news. Thank you!

If people are not as lucky as you (at the Zen center), then all that most people really have to do is attend yoga classes, and ask the teacher for help with asanas that will progressively ease the posture that one is most interested in developing (e.g., Lotus variants; Seiza variants).

Thanks so much.

--Joe

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fuki
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Re: Getting In Position

Post by fuki » Thu Jul 26, 2018 10:13 pm

desert_woodworker wrote:
Thu Jul 26, 2018 9:57 pm

As a Yoga teacher since 1980, and a teacher of Sheng Yen's Buddhist Yoga and exercises for Ch'an Retreat since that same year, I would not mislead anyone to proceed to injury. Also, many people -- most? -- are smart enough to interpret pain as a warning sign. This is why, here, I HAVE ADVISED PEOPLE TO ATTEND YOGA CLASSES AND TO ASK THE TEACHER FOR ASANAS WHICH WILL HELP. Please don't feign ignorance, as if you haven't read what I've written. But your second and third sentences are good.
I read you Joe, but I know people who did ignore the warning signs and so did their Zen teachers, whether it was their (martial-art-ish) "ego" or a "surrender" to the teacher/tradition is another point, which is superfluous to me but the conversation is occuring on a public forum, in our direct conversation it's superfluous, sorry to import it, I have no doubt you, Sheng Yeng, Meido and Guo Gu will ever teach contraction or allow students to engage in foolish postures for the sake of their ego's.
meldpunt seksueel misbruik in boeddhistische gemeenschappen.
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desert_woodworker
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Re: Getting In Position

Post by desert_woodworker » Thu Jul 26, 2018 10:20 pm

fuki wrote:
Thu Jul 26, 2018 10:13 pm
desert_woodworker wrote:
Thu Jul 26, 2018 9:57 pm

As a Yoga teacher since 1980, and a teacher of Sheng Yen's Buddhist Yoga and exercises for Ch'an Retreat since that same year, I would not mislead anyone to proceed to injury. Also, many people -- most? -- are smart enough to interpret pain as a warning sign. This is why, here, I HAVE ADVISED PEOPLE TO ATTEND YOGA CLASSES AND TO ASK THE TEACHER FOR ASANAS WHICH WILL HELP. Please don't feign ignorance, as if you haven't read what I've written. But your second and third sentences are good.
I read you Joe, but I know people who did ignore the warning signs and so did their Zen teachers, whether it was their (martial-art-ish) "ego" or a "surrender" to the teacher/tradition is another point, which is superfluous to me but the conversation is occuring on a public forum, in our direct conversation it's superfluous, sorry to import it, I have no doubt you, Sheng Yeng [sic], Meido and Guo Gu will ever teach contraction or allow students to engage in foolish postures for the sake of their ego's.
No, I don't inderstand that, sorry.

But, again: those interested!: see your Yoga teacher for help in developing Lotus or Seiza posture variants, and good luck; good practice!

Or if you already have a Buddhist meditation teacher, do the same with that person.

But even to consider the extremes, Marcel, my experience is to the contrary of your claimed one: I've never known anybody who's hurt themselves sitting. Period. So there's another data-point, folks. Yet, still... , don't mess around: save time and see a Yoga teacher, or your Buddhist teacher. Developing a good posture is pleasurable, and beneficial.

--Joe
"Ignorance is to be ignorant of one's original mind." - Ma Tsu

"Liberation is awakening to one's original nature." - Ma Tsu

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fuki
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Re: Getting In Position

Post by fuki » Thu Jul 26, 2018 10:28 pm

desert_woodworker wrote:
Thu Jul 26, 2018 10:20 pm
But even to consider the extremes, Marcel, my experience is to the contrary of your claimed one: I've never known anybody who's hurt themselves sitting. Period. So there's another data-point, folks. Yet, still... , don't mess around: save time and see a Yoga teacher, or your Buddhist teacher. Developing a good posture is pleasurable, and beneficial.

--Joe
Sure, there are millions of practisioners so a lot of data. I said nothing in opposition to your advice and experience, as always I found it complementary. As is in the nature of a forum, people share a multitude of expierences and perspectives, I haven't talked against any of your or other's points. I hope talking of chronical injuries due to errors in judgment whether by students or teachers is not a taboo or something, nor is it discouraging to cultivate a proper traditional posture, in fact I'm only sharing in benefit and inspiration of traditional posture, naturally, not through contraction which whether you've never known or seen is a flat pancake, that pancake still has two sides, in other words, it happens.

There are plenty of people who sitting in lotus or half lotus sit with a sense of pride that they've accomplshed that "mimicking of the buddha" as you know any posture in the head or "sitting in the head", is not true practise/inquiry, just more delusion.
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desert_woodworker
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Re: Getting In Position

Post by desert_woodworker » Thu Jul 26, 2018 10:59 pm

fuki wrote:
Thu Jul 26, 2018 10:28 pm
desert_woodworker wrote:
Thu Jul 26, 2018 10:20 pm
But even to consider the extremes, Marcel, my experience is to the contrary of your claimed one: I've never known anybody who's hurt themselves sitting. Period. So there's another data-point, folks. Yet, still... , don't mess around: save time and see a Yoga teacher, or your Buddhist teacher. Developing a good posture is pleasurable, and beneficial.

--Joe
Sure, there are millions of practisioners so a lot of data. I said nothing in opposition to your advice and experience, as always I found it complementary. As is in the nature of a forum, people share a multitude of expierences and perspectives, I haven't talked against any of your or other's points. I hope talking of chronical injuries due to errors in judgment whether by students or teachers is not a taboo or something, nor is it discouraging to cultivate a proper traditional posture, in fact I'm only sharing in benefit and inspiration of traditional posture, naturally, not through contraction which whether you've never known or seen is a flat pancake, that pancake still has two sides, in other words, it happens.

There are plenty of people who sitting in lotus or half lotus sit with a sense of pride that they've accomplshed that "mimicking of the buddha" as you know any posture in the head or "sitting in the head", is not true practise/inquiry, just more delusion.
Nope, not gettin' it. I'd say you are talkin' shit.

Oh well!

Still, those interested, see a Yoga teacher for help in what you'd like to do. Some here can help, too, but "in-person" is best!, and can be interactive. Do the best for yourself, and all Beings.

--Joe
"Ignorance is to be ignorant of one's original mind." - Ma Tsu

"Liberation is awakening to one's original nature." - Ma Tsu

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KeithA
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Re: Getting In Position

Post by KeithA » Fri Jul 27, 2018 1:39 am

8
WoodsyLadyM wrote:
Thu Jul 26, 2018 8:19 pm
lindama wrote:
Wed Jul 25, 2018 8:36 pm
Georgei.... I've seen cushions that have the shape that you created... Gomden/Shambala cushion... it consists of some firm foam and is as high as what you created. trying it out, I thought it was comfortable and doable.

https://www.samadhicushions.com/gomden- ... /c-500.htm
I used to sit at my local Shambhala center on gomdens but I think they caused problems with my pelvis. For the longest time, until I found a decent chiropractor, I couldn't sit, even in a chair, because it was excruciating. I had to lay on my back to meditate. But this is just my experience and most people might be able to sit on them just fine. It wasn't until I began sitting with the local Zen center that I learned to sit "correctly," on a zafu. Image
When new folks come to the center, they usually plop down on the cushion like it's a little chair. I usually set my legs on the mat with the cushion behind me and then lean forward and drag it under my butt, so it's just under my spine.

*note - I said I was done here in another thread. A good friend asked me to stay, so I will. If the subject of that thread returns to the forum, I will go. I do not intend to discuss that here, but will do so via pm, if anyone so desires.

_/|\_
You make, you get.

New Haven Zen Center

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Great Sage EofH
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Re: Getting In Position

Post by Great Sage EofH » Thu Aug 02, 2018 4:38 pm

desert_woodworker wrote:
Thu Jul 26, 2018 2:07 pm
Marcel,

I'd agree that, in the awakened state, samadhi can come on (and persist) in any state of standing, sitting, or walking, and is never scared-away by any actions, movements, activity, or non-actions for the length of time that awakening stably persists (while supported by one's continuing practice: weeks, months).

But in order to awaken (in the first place), samadhi is best encouraged and "hosted" while one is in one of the close sitting postures (variants of Lotus; variants of Seiza).

It's noted in some circles of the Zen tradition (I think... ) that awakening often comes about as one suddenly awakes out of samadhi (as samadhi "breaks-up"). Thus, if one values a possibility to awaken, it can be helpful to prepare the ground, and to enable and to cultivate the samadhi states, and this seems best done in the traditional postures, which have become traditional for this reason, not because it's "just the way that people [who didn't have chairs... ] used to sit" (in my reasoned opinion).

A good package-deal we have, here/there.

So, where does that leave us? Oh, yes; >>-----> cultivate a sitting posture that your teacher recommends which he/she sees is possible for you, in the current state of one's body, and as it can develop through practice and as a result of practice. I.e., don't just automatically "default" to a chair. If you do, 'de fault' may be your own! ;)

:hide:

--Joe

:560:
"We are magical animals that roam" ~~ Roam

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Emmet
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Re: Getting In Position

Post by Emmet » Mon Aug 06, 2018 2:03 pm

All of the sanghas I've ever sat with have used commercially available zafus; they've always worked for me. I made ours back when kapok life jackets were still readily available in second-hand shops and salvage yards. I sit Burmese...unless I can't; in which case I sit in a chair...unless I can't; in which case I "sit" in a hospital bed. As in all things, we do the best we can with what this moment presents us to work with. I'll never be able to sit full lotus, but that's not the point of practice. The form is there to support our practice; not the other way 'round. Several books, Three Pillars of Zen by roshi Phillip Kapleau, and if I recall correctly, Taking the Path of Zen by roshi Robert Aitken, have a chapter with diagrams of stretches which over time will facilitate your sitting. Be gentle and gradual and patient with yourself; my teacher once said that it takes a couple of years of diligent practice to "find your seat".

If I was to fold a blanket into a field-expedient zafu, rather than a square, I'd take a heavy wool blanket and fold it into a triangle. I'd fold the apex to the middle of the base of the triangle, then repeatedly fold lengthwise until the strip of folded blanket's about as wide as a zafu. Starting at one end, I'd tightly roll it up, then tuck the end in. Round and dense; just like a zafu (sort of). Different strokes.

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Meido
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Re: Getting In Position

Post by Meido » Mon Aug 06, 2018 6:03 pm

Regarding stretches, there was an old article from Yoga Journal - "How to Grow a Lotus" - that's made the rounds for years. Many folks have found it useful. At least one adaptation is online, here:

http://zenmontpellier.net/eng/lotus/lotuseng.html

Good stuff about folding a blanket. The most commonly available commercial zafus, the Soto-style round cushions, are excellent but I've always felt their limitation is that to change the height, one had to remove or add stuffing. Also, over time, the height one requires will slowly change as the body transforms.

The Rinzai style of cushion in monasteries is often just the folded-up futon...not practical for folks who are not sleeping at their seat. But multiple thin rectangular cushions are also used, and these have an advantage of being instantly adjustable: just add to or remove from the stack as needed.

So, there are many options. At our place the residents don't sleep in the zendo on tan, so the zafu we use are the last type mentioned above, as seen in this sanzen room photo (they were made by stillsitting.com, btw, who do a great job):

sanzenroomKorinji.jpg
sanzenroomKorinji.jpg (85.51 KiB) Viewed 422 times
The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice
Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺] - http://www.korinji.org
Madison, WI Rinzai Zen Community [機山龍源寺] - http://www.madisonrinzaizen.org
The Rinzai Zen Community - http://www.rinzaizen.org

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Nothing
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Re: Getting In Position

Post by Nothing » Tue Aug 07, 2018 10:57 am

Meido wrote:
Mon Aug 06, 2018 6:03 pm
So, there are many options. At our place the residents don't sleep in the zendo on tan, so the zafu we use are the last type mentioned above, as seen in this sanzen room photo (they were made by stillsitting.com, btw, who do a great job):
Hi Meido,

What are the dimensions of these rectangular cushions and what are they stuffed with?


- Viktor

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Meido
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Re: Getting In Position

Post by Meido » Tue Aug 07, 2018 3:25 pm

Viktor, they're 25x45cm, though that's not set in stone...i think they could easily be 3 or 5 cm longer if one desired. This size has been sufficient for us though.

Stuffed with cotton batting. At their current thickness most folks use between 2 to 4. Over time they'll probably compress a bit.
The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice
Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺] - http://www.korinji.org
Madison, WI Rinzai Zen Community [機山龍源寺] - http://www.madisonrinzaizen.org
The Rinzai Zen Community - http://www.rinzaizen.org

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desert_woodworker
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Re: Getting In Position

Post by desert_woodworker » Thu Aug 09, 2018 1:41 am

Whatever it takes. Worth experimenting with.

And take some Yoga classes to help the body to learn how to sit, in greatest ease.

You won't learn this at a Zen Center (but you'll use it to advantage there, and at home). Ask your Yoga teacher: There are asanas which condition the legs and hip-joints for variations of lotus, or seiza. Rest assured. All will be well.

Or, you may have a Ch'an/Zen/Seon/Thien teacher who can teach this way of development of the legs. If so, congrats! And, don't count on it. Look elsewhere.

--Joe

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