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Lotus position makes me lose feeling in my feet?

So I’ve always been able to sit in full lotus since I was a child. It’s a comfortable position for me to sit and meditate in.

However, after 25 minutes I lose the feeling in my feet from the ankles down. It’s not about blood flow so it must be a nerve getting pinched. (Happens to both feet).

Anyone had the same experience and overcome it? How? What nerve is it? (In other words, where is it getting pinched?). It’s very frustrating since I have to sit on a cushion on my knees to prevent it, and it’s just not as comfortable for me.

I don’t think just keep doing it will solve it. 25 minutes seems like clock work, always has.

Thanks!

Is this a problem?

This still happens to me sometimes too. I just rub my legs a bit when I come out before I stand up. It makes a nice, slow return to “normal” that I can’t just jump up right away and start doing things immediately. Have to come out of meditation slow and gentle. Bridge that cushion/world gap.

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Haha well isn’t it? I would assume sitting for an hour or two with a nerve pinched would be unhealthy.

Well maybe I wasn’t clear on that. 25 minutes is fine for me. I rub my feet and stumble around my house looking drunk for a minute. Doesn’t feel that bad but I would not dare doing it for two hours.

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Imho, that’s fine. If you want to meditate for two hours, I’d just do one hour of sitting and one hour of walking. Much healthier and leads to more stable concentration.

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There is stretching exercises on YouTube to prepare to better do full lotus. But for me Burmese style is enough. With time your meditation should progress that you can meditate even while sitting on chair or bed. I hope you find a posture that you feel comfortable. Meditation cushion helps alot also. From experience filled with buckwheat is the best. Makes you sit really stable. There also a meditation cushion for full lotus.

May I suggest that the problem might come from the area of buttock that is immediately below the spine? For example, if the left ankle is the one loses feeling then the left area of the buttock is the one got too much strained.

You can test that if it’s the case, when this problem happens, you can try to form 2 fists with your hands, put them straight along your body and try to lift yourself up. If that helps, that’s most likely the cause is the buttock area.

If that’s the case, simple solution is to make arrangement so that your legs spread out evenly and just a little bit downward to release the pressure.

Let us know the result :smiley:

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I also can do full lotus, but prefer to meditate in half lotus. The half lotus is less constrictive than the full lotus. In addition, elevation of the torso helps decompress the legs, so a standard zabuton setup can help, although I’ve had to take out some cushioning material to flatten the round cushion a bit. Too high is just as bad as too low.

Numbness is always a concern, especially if there is any force involved causing the numbness:

DN34:1.6.73: ‘This immersion is peaceful and sublime and tranquil and unified, not held in place by forceful suppression.’

Some traditions such as Zen can impose time limits of 30m or even longer on practitioners. Misunderstanding these conventions as mandates can be dangerous to health, especially if nerves are being squished. I actually have a pinched nerve issue that I have to work around, so numbness is a bad sign.

Reading the suttas carefully can help here. For example, numbness can be understood as a form of dullness. Dullness is a hindrance, and therefore numbness should be avoided as well. Read the whole of MN128 to get a sense of the scope of issues. Immersion is very subtle and a lot can go awry.

MN128:18.3: ‘Dullness and drowsiness arose in me …

In particular, note that although the Buddha meditated a lot, he gave no specific time mandate (e.g., 30 minutes). Instead, the Buddha simply encourages seclusion and meditation:

MN8:17.3: Here are these roots of trees, and here are these empty huts. Practice absorption, Cunda! Don’t be negligent! Don’t regret it later! This is my instruction.”

Time mandates are a modern imposition brought about by things like the demand to punch in work hours. Shifting away from those external demands and assumptions, we can focus on something more immediate and real. We can count our breaths, for example. And if you count your breaths mindful of the body and your feet, you may notice when your feet start to numb. It will be subtle, but becoming aware of that transition may help adjust your practice to be free of that numbness.

One thing that became quite apparent to me in reading the suttas is that the immersive experience is not restricted to sitting. Sitting is beneficial for depth, but breadth is also important and immersion can permeate our entire lives.

AN8.63:10.1: When this immersion is well developed and cultivated in this way, wherever you walk, you’ll walk comfortably. Wherever you stand, you’ll stand comfortably. Wherever you sit, you’ll sit comfortably. Wherever you lie down, you’ll lie down comfortably.”

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My thought on this is to meditate in a posture that is comfortable. The more that we are “in the body” with concerns about losing feeling in our extremities, the less we are letting go of the mundane and slipping into some level of absorption. At least for me, I have not tried to master lotus positions as I do not see that they are particularly prescribed in the Suttas. What I do read is the finding of roots of tress, which provide a natural incline away from the seated butt and allow the legs to rest comfortably below the plane that the butt is seated on. My sense of meditation is to get the body as comfortable as possible in a meditation posture, being mindful of the posture, and then letting go of feelings in the body. I use a Burmese position with a zabuton and an elevated cushion, and find it puts minimal strain on the extremities.

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I could once assume all of these postures and was silly enough to think that they mattered. That lead to mental suffering as I aged and stiffened. Now I see that the meditation is the point, and I need to check on how my mind is going and not worry about how my joints are bending.

My advice is to make use of the postures – for as long as you are able – to enhance your meditation, because they can do this, but don’t worry about them.

Meditate rather than posturate!

If anyone is worried about the effects of prolonged numbness, consult a doctor and take this advice

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This is seriously a great way to sprain an ankle. :grimacing:

Do be careful.

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Hmmm yes I’m going to try and do something about that on my evening meditation today. Maybe I could just sit on a soft cushion, to get my butt off of the floor, and have it be a bit higher up than my feet. I’ve been focusing mostly on putting something soft around my ankles, thinking that’s where the damage is done, to no avail.

Hope it works better!

Sure I get that ultimately it isn’t very important how you sit, as long as it does it’s job. But I do find the full lotus position very comfortable, in how it straightens my spine without me having to think about it all. It’s just frustrating that my feet go numb after a while.

But thanks to everyone for your good advice! I did not expect so many answers. I’m happy to have joined this forum. I live far away from civilization in Sweden so it’s though to join a Sangha and ask questions and the like, but here I have an outlet for that. Again, thanks!

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I hope it will work better for you too :smiley:

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Such a great question, Emil, and glad you found the responses helpful (all of them great responses). Yes, also glad you found D&D as it’s such a great resource and a lot of very good and kind kalyana mitta here to bounce ideas around with. To honest, I envy just a bit your ability to be in full lotus; it just looks cool, and as you said, it keeps you anchored with a straight spine. I’m as flexible as rebar, and likely look like a sack of Irish potatoes when I meditate cross legged, so I wish you some good meditations ahead :slight_smile:

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Thanks! Well at least it’s good that I may look experienced when I meditate. My body is firmly positioned, but my mind certainly doesn’t reflect that :joy:

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Wow! “Depth” and “breadth.” That’s really good. I like this! Can I use it?

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You are certainly welcome to use my crude explanation of the Buddha’s own words.

However, the Buddha’s own teaching will likely prove more useful.

When I first read MN8 it completely stumped me. Yet when I read it again and again and again, it slowly dawned on me that the Buddha is encouraging Cunda to take a broader outlook. And indeed, as I studied MN8, I realized just how sophisticated Buddhist ethics are. The rules in MN8 are numerous and each rule is phrased in a way that forces us to think carefully about how we interact with others.

MN8:4.1: It’s possible that a certain mendicant, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unskillful qualities, might enter and remain in the first absorption, which has the rapture and bliss born of seclusion, while placing the mind and keeping it connected.
MN8:4.2: They might think
MN8:4.3: they’re practicing self-effacement.
MN8:4.4: But in the training of the Noble One these are not called ‘self-effacement’;
MN8:4.5: they’re called ‘blissful meditations in the present life’.

When Cunda hears this, he is a bit confused. So the Buddha goes on to explain:

MN8:12.1: Now, Cunda, you should work on self-effacement in each of the following ways.
MN8:12.2: ‘Others will be cruel, but here we will not be cruel.’
MN8:12.3: ‘Others will kill living creatures, but here we will not kill living creatures.’

The Buddha teaches us here that the breadth of the practice MUST include ethics. And ethics is not simple. Ethics is foundational to the practice and tough to get right. Just as depth is difficult, so to is the breadth of the practice. We really do need to study the suttas in detail.

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