Back pain

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fuki
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Back pain

Post by fuki » Fri Feb 23, 2018 4:16 pm

As I have only practised with a few groups throughout the years but never for a long time my practise (meditation) at home have been quite "lazy" well I call it spontaneous but it's probably lazy :mrgreen:

I just sit on a matrass with pillows behind my back and between the bed frame or coach if the matrass lies on the ground and time is no issue then.
Since it seems I will probably sit with a new group shortly (I will hear more on monday) I have been sitting outside of the matras fun and trying to sit 3 times a day for 30 minutes on a chair with correct posture, just to train when I will join the group, also on a chair, any zafu position is out of the question due to injuries.

My question; after about 15 minutes on the chair backpain starts to appear, after about 20 minutes the pain becomes very severe (lower back) so I just ignore the pain and continue until 30 minutes have passed, is this a good way of going about it, just sitting for 10 minutes with intense pain or might it be better to stop after 20 minutes? After the sitting session the pain stays for about 30 more minutes decreasing as time goes on.

I just don't want to make the mistake of causing more injuries then I already have but I'd also like to be relatively pain free for 30 minutes within a few weeks to get ready to practise with the group. Any pointers, advice most appreciated. I figured out how to keep the legs awake by adjusting the hight of the pillow under my butt but no luck on improving the back pains so far.
meldpunt seksueel misbruik in boeddhistische gemeenschappen.
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jundocohen
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Re: Back pain

Post by jundocohen » Fri Feb 23, 2018 4:39 pm

Hi Fuki,

First, I recommend this book to you very much, no matter how you are sitting ...

viewtopic.php?f=4&t=144

Have you tried a Seiza Bench?

If the teacher of the new group is open minded, I would explain your back condition, and see if he/she might even let you recline, either on your back or Lion's Position.

Also, not sure how you are sitting in the chair, and it would be nice to see a photo from the side, should your posture and how your feet rest on the floor. Some chance that you are sitting on the chair in an unbalanced way.

Gassho, Jundo
Teacher at Treeleaf Zendo, a Soto Zen Sangha, an online practice place for folks who cannot commute to a Zen Center due to health, living in remote areas, work or family needs. The focus is Shikantaza 'Just Sitting' Zazen http://www.treeleaf.org

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lindama
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Re: Back pain

Post by lindama » Fri Feb 23, 2018 4:55 pm

explore a small pillow for lumbar support. pushing shoulders back for straight posture is a strain on lower back.

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fuki
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Re: Back pain

Post by fuki » Fri Feb 23, 2018 5:03 pm

Thank you Jundo.

I've ordered the book (delivery 2-9 weeks)

I've tried a Seiza Bench many years ago when I didn't have these injuries/pains so I just sat in half lotus then because I thought it was "better" I did enjoy the posture on the Seiza Bench but have no clue how that would feel now. Since the teachers are two Dutch woman I'd expect them to be open minded, but who knows. Thanks for the other posture suggestions I will discuss it with them. I'm just a bit 'nervous' for the first appearance of the group since it's a small group locally compared to the main temple up north in the country so I already see myself being the odd sheep in a small room, I know these are insubstantial breezes but it's a habit of the past to be 'nervous' about these things, but I also can't deny them.

Thanks for the help I'll ask a friend to shoot some photos when they visit tomorrow.
meldpunt seksueel misbruik in boeddhistische gemeenschappen.
https://meldpuntbg.nl/

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fuki
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Re: Back pain

Post by fuki » Fri Feb 23, 2018 5:04 pm

lindama wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 4:55 pm
explore a small pillow for lumbar support. pushing shoulders back for straight posture is a strain on lower back.
Thanks Linda, I will test it!
meldpunt seksueel misbruik in boeddhistische gemeenschappen.
https://meldpuntbg.nl/

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Caodemarte
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Re: Back pain

Post by Caodemarte » Fri Feb 23, 2018 5:07 pm

Consider too from a non-expert who has never seen you: If you are sitting on a mattress it is almost certainly not giving you proper support and inducing instability if you are sitting half-Lotus (I know people who seriously damaged their legs by sitting Lotus on a mattress for a long time). Consider using a couple of old blankets or a thinner mat. Sitting with the back supported, as with the back against a wall or pillow often puts more pressure on the back causing eventual back pain;such support may also lead to the continued atrophy of the stabilizing muscles in the back which will lead to more back pain (requiring the use of more support which leads to more pain, etc.) It would be useful to consult with a medical professional who also has experience in sitting. They are often members of sitting groups if you ask.

You still seem ahead of me in the posture department. To the amusement of my relatives I cannot adopt any cross legged position at all. I find it difficult to sit in a chair because I tend to slump down or fall asleep there. I can sit in a kneeling position with firm support (zafus or seiza bench). I remind myself that we are not aiming at perfection, but at “good enough” or “best we can do today.” No position is holier than any other, so we take the position that is most useful to us that day at that hour.
Last edited by Caodemarte on Fri Feb 23, 2018 5:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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lindama
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Re: Back pain

Post by lindama » Fri Feb 23, 2018 5:21 pm

Fuki, on the idea of being the odd sheep... give yourself room for that if need be. I've been in enough sanghas to know there is room to accommodate one's needs. It's a generosity that lives in good dharma. I've seen accommodations for disabled ppl, people who need to lay down, ppl who can't do walking meditation. In the Soto family, I sat with Darlene Cohen. She had been severely affected by arthritis as a young woman, she ran pain groups with zen and non-zen members. Darlene had also developed ways to take advantage of body posture... for example, how to lay down without falling asleep. In her sangha, they did standing bows. I know a few zen teachers who sit in chairs. More than once, I leaned on the wall after dinner... after being on my feet all day in the kitchen. I hope you find that generosity.
linda

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fuki
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Re: Back pain

Post by fuki » Fri Feb 23, 2018 5:34 pm

Thanks Caodemarte and Linda, that's encouraging!
:115:

actually last group I sat with (very large group) weren't so kind and warm/welcoming so that might condition my worries, if I need to be the odd sheep I'll be the odd sheep that makes perfectly sense. :D

Thanks for all the pointers, I'll experiment.
meldpunt seksueel misbruik in boeddhistische gemeenschappen.
https://meldpuntbg.nl/

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KeithA
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Re: Back pain

Post by KeithA » Fri Feb 23, 2018 6:06 pm

Everybody's body is different, but for my body, the phrase "shoulders back, belly out" has been useful for me. Gently drawing the shoulders back, while rocking the hips forward a little, sets the spine into a very bio-mechanically very strong position. Of course, it takes a little time and attention for the body to strengthen and allow for some sense of comfortable sitting. I know for me, if I am experiencing pain, it's because I am not sitting with good posture.

Hope you back feels better soon, friend!

_/|\_
You make, you get.

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lindama
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Re: Back pain

Post by lindama » Fri Feb 23, 2018 6:10 pm

not to be confusing.. Keith has a point. my chiropractor just pointed out to me this week that belly forward (lumbars) naturally draws the shoulders back. it's the strain of just pulling shoulders back that causes pain/strain.

Caodemarte
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Re: Back pain

Post by Caodemarte » Fri Feb 23, 2018 6:14 pm

Just a note that I began zazen with a group that followed a strict approach and as correct a stable posture as possible (obvious allowances for physical conditions). This might look unwelcoming or “macho” to outsiders. It was actually the kindest approach. I quickly learned to distinguish between pain signaling damage and pain to be sat through, what should give rise to movement or adjustment and what should not. So what looks kind may not be helpful in practice and what seems unkind may be the kindest approach.

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KeithA
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Re: Back pain

Post by KeithA » Fri Feb 23, 2018 6:17 pm

lindama wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 6:10 pm
not to be confusing.. Keith has a point. But my chiropractor just pointed out to me this week that belly forward (lumbars) naturally draws the shoulders back. it's the strain of just pulling shoulders back that causes pain/strain.
Good point, which I why included the statement "gently drawing the shoulders back". I should have included "until they are underneath the ears". When I teach it IRL, I make sure to caution about getting carried away with drawing the shoulders back.

Not to disagree with your chiro, but I don't find that it is completely natural for the shoulders to find the right place. Again, that's my body though. :)
You make, you get.

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fuki
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Re: Back pain

Post by fuki » Fri Feb 23, 2018 7:16 pm

Thanks Keith, et all!

Time to educate the subtle body aspects of life it seems, it has been neglected.
meldpunt seksueel misbruik in boeddhistische gemeenschappen.
https://meldpuntbg.nl/

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Nothing
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Re: Back pain

Post by Nothing » Fri Feb 23, 2018 7:23 pm

Hi Fuki

Since you did not mention whether you are doing some stretching before sitting and/or after sitting I will comment about that a little.

In my case doing at least the 8 form moving meditation before sitting have helped me with back pain and doing basic yoga stretches have helped a lot not just with back pain but also with general flexibility since my flexibility have always been below average, it is still below average but is improving :)

In my experience many western practitioners are neglecting physical exercises and being in good physical shape and personally i learned that the hard way by going to retreat where to addition to back pain I had very intense knee pain since I have bad knee :D

Hope you find way to deal with your back pain as soon as possible Fuki

Gasshou

Viktor

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fuki
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Re: Back pain

Post by fuki » Fri Feb 23, 2018 7:42 pm

Thank you Victor a very good point, I remember that video from zfi and Joe's kind reminder not to neglect. I'm stubborn with this, I never warm up or cool down. I can lift my bodyweight above my head or ride my bike uphill with a heartrate of 200 instantly without warming up and stretching, it's very dumb but it's a habit I dont think about (and caused many injuries) Its not as bad as it used to be (being 41 the body just says no sometimes) but I just have to incorporate stretching/warming up as daily routine, it never crossed my mind I just go zit zazen without thinking. Thanks for the reminder!
meldpunt seksueel misbruik in boeddhistische gemeenschappen.
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Wayfarer
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Re: Back pain

Post by Wayfarer » Sat Feb 24, 2018 3:59 am

Another point to consider is that, even though the sensation is physical, some of the pains that come up through meditation are also mind-body related. I will add straight away, that I don’t know if it is so in your case, but it is something to consider.

But in my practice, as I noted on here a while back, there are practice sessions that are more and less uncomfortable. I think there’s a lot of reasons for that, only some of which are actually physiological. When you get into the groove with practice, the mind-body settles a lot better and it just seems to attain a comfortable state. Other days, it’s uncomfortable from the get-go. But I have learned that the thing with discomfort is to stay with it, to actually focus on it - not in your mind, not by thinking about it, but by simply being mindful of the sensation as an object. That’s challenging, but it works sometimes.

The point is, sometimes one is actually resisting the practice, and the resistance can show up as pain. Again, not saying this is true for you - might not be at all. But it’s something that has happened in my practice.

:namaste:
The most important thing is not at all important.

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Great Sage EofH
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Re: Back pain

Post by Great Sage EofH » Sat Feb 24, 2018 6:23 pm

While there are only a few positions properly used in Zazen practice, informally any position can be used. The best alternative poses IN MY EVER SO HUMBLE OPINION are to be found in gentle or beginning level qi gong and yoga. Sitting poses such as Hero, or Tailor are viable alternatives to Lotus or Half Lotus. The emphasis on Lotus pose is historically linked to the physiology and neurophysiology of samadhi. It’s idea for the entire nervous system throughout the body, and IMHO whole ideal, not at all necessary. Other yoga poses that can be tried are Mountain (standing) and Corpse (supine) hell I’ve even tried Baby asana (fetal pose) - worth noting that some positions are easier to stay awake in than others and in Zen you can’t drny that sleep deprivation is part of the practice. The proper angle of the spine is identically similar to siting in lotus pose on a flat hard floor. Not recommended for any length of time, but that’s the correct angle. In Sri Lanka and South India the cushions aren’t usually used. I think Forest Schools ditto. Still, Zazen properly speaking is a group choreography, and it beautiful when everyone is comfortable sitting together in similar fashion
"We are magical animals that roam" ~~ Roam

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Great Sage EofH
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Re: Back pain

Post by Great Sage EofH » Sat Feb 24, 2018 6:35 pm

Chronic back pain is sometimes called degenerative disk disease. This is different than back pain that comes and goes, and moves about. I would not call Zazen or yoga, with strenuous stretching ideal . In fact the cure might be to avoid these positions and practice physical therapy to strengthen the back and restore mobility. Really good physical therapists specializing in back pain and disk disease have a number of successful cures
"We are magical animals that roam" ~~ Roam

Caodemarte
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Re: Back pain

Post by Caodemarte » Sat Feb 24, 2018 6:42 pm

I hope that Meido’s new book The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice will give some good posture information.
Last edited by Caodemarte on Sat Feb 24, 2018 10:02 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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boda
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Re: Back pain

Post by boda » Sat Feb 24, 2018 7:12 pm

I would recommend daily yoga type physical therapy for your lower back. It's worked well for me. It takes time, literally months, for the therapy to show results, however. Hope the new group works out for you.

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