SuttaCentral

How do you sit erect and fully ardent for meditation?


#1

Listened and read to various methods translations and teachings on how to sit for meditation, some say you should not move and endure pain (seen by experience people enduring pain make great progress) others say let it go and be kind to your body move as you wish (seems kind to body but is it to progress)

When the mind is most bright and things flow by itself posture automatically aligns to what erect and fully ardent might be understood as, otherwise when mindfulness is not that strong does someone need to be conscious of posture or not and then wondering what stillness and samadhi means if someone keeps changing postures can they be still or in samadhi?


#2

I’d say it’s a mix of both.

I remember Ajahn Brahm saying that, if something starts hurting, try letting it be for a while. More often than not, it goes away without having to move. So don’t move at the first sign of mild pain or itching.

If it persists and repeatedly distracts you, then there may be something more serious going on, and it’s probably best to move, instead of risking damage.

At any rate, when first sitting down, do a check along your whole body and make sure it’s as comfy as you can get it, try to move if there’s any pain, so that it’s less likely you’ll need to move later.

It is my understanding that you want to keep posture in your peripheral awareness, but not focus on it. Just loose awareness, and adjust if you notice yourself slouching, or if your back is too stiff and it’s starting to really hurt.


#3

Is this qualified as stillness, the tales of stillness I heard, relating to Ajahn Chah and elsewhere mentions you need to be very still, nothing moves. Also heard Ajahn Chah used to have overnight meditation sessions for monks including Leh people where no one moves and he himself will sit like a rock.


#4

When I was taught some Tai Chi we were taught to stand straight, with the bones each balanced one on top of the other, which allows the flesh (muscles) to relax – relax, because they don’t need to be holding up the bones, because each bone is supported by (balanced on) the bones below it.

I think perhaps that looks like good posture but it’s also a relaxed posture.

If your head is poking forward for example then the back-of-your-neck muscles would have to hold it up – and if you relaxed that muscle then the head falls down/off! Instead, you move your head (your chin) back, so it’s balanced on top of the neck bones – then the neck muscles can relax.

It starts though with balancing the lower part of the back (which is usually S-shaped – the lumbar curve) e.g. to avoid hyperlordosis.

Anyway, I don’t know but maybe good posture isn’t meant to be stressful, conversely becoming aware of muscular stress could imply that posture might be better.


#5

It’s a good question. I mostly practice off the cushion these days (satipatthana), and have found that the resulting stillness is a state of mind, and not directly related to the movement of bodily senses, whether pleasant or unpleasant.


#6

I guess it’s a matter of risk/reward.

The way I understand it, the more you sit unmoving, the more you train in endurance (mental and physical). So it is higher risk, for potentially faster progress. But, if the pain is only amplifying mental agitation, without teaching you anything, then it’s wasted effort. And, if you end up seriously damaging your body for no gain, that is definitely not useful.

If you move around, you will often do so earlier than is necessary, which may make your mind more sensitive to the slightest ache, amplifying craving for comfort, resulting in lesser pains being a greater distraction. So, while you get to differentiate the two kinds of pain, progress may be a lot slower, but you’ll also have your body in good shape, to practice longer.

A teacher like Ajahn Chah would likely be able to tell if any of his students are damaging themselves for no purpose. I haven’t read about any of them sustaining serious injuries during those all-night sessions, at least. But I have heard of monks who tried meditating for long hours by their own initiative, who ended up becoming bound to a wheel chair because of it. A good teacher can most likely help with telling you if you’re pushing yourself too much or too little.

So, while you are still understanding what’s motivating you to move, plain discomfort vs damage warnings, it’ll probably not be perfect, regardless of your choice. It’s best to push yourself a little bit, to understand the nature of the pain better, though if your knees have been screaming in agony continuously for the past half hour, it’s probably better to move. It’s a bit of a balancing act at the start.


#7

Great though mind is attached to body and if body is at pain mind can’t stay in peace unless you are in Jhana or higher mind states

Should we investigate and find the causes of pain and only when convinced move, not sure about suitable answers, any monks here who can advice?


#8

Generally I think it is better to find a posture which is basically comfortable and sustainable. Shift your position if necessary. There is no need to endure physical discomfort, or to do yogic contortions, both are counterproductive.


#9

Guess you are right and seems my question was a dumb question, when Ananda can get enlightened halfway while lying down on bed, posture is not important, in any posture continuous mindfulness and stillness of mind is more important.