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Kyphosis (back) problem, can I sit in armchair?

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Kyphosis (back) problem, can I sit in armchair?

Postby dbranch on Fri Mar 13, 2015 4:42 am

According to a blog called Hardcore Zen, one must sit on a cushion, but I have kyphosis and scoliosis and so cannot last very long.

I'm 18, just starting to read about Zen, and quite excited about starting. However it's very discouraging that I can't practice the normal position. Also it makes me less confident to go to a sitting group because they might not have a chair etc.

In my brief history with Centering Prayer, an armchair was fine for my back. Can I practice zazen in an armchair?

Thanks,
David
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Re: Kyphosis (back) problem, can I sit in armchair?

Postby Caodemarte on Fri Mar 13, 2015 4:57 am

I don't think you will find any absence of chairs although you may have to ask. You can practice zazen in a chair. Other cross- legged postures are preferred because they are usually more stable while more conducive to alertness. However, if one cannot sit in them for physical reasons they lose that reason. I cannot sit cross legged so none of those postures will be stable for me and so I sit in a kneeling posture. Others in my group have to use chairs. I know of one zen group leader who has to lay down because of a bad back problem.
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Re: Kyphosis (back) problem, can I sit in armchair?

Postby desert_woodworker on Fri Mar 13, 2015 5:03 am

David,

It's good to meet you here. And welcome to the Forum!

Wherever you go, to whatever Zen center, just ask the senior people there, or the teacher, about how to set yourself up for zazen at their place. And I hope it will become YOUR place! There's every reason to be excited about beginning practice. And it seems you have some experience already. Still, at a new place, it's important to make your needs known, and then just to fall in naturally with the way they practice, there. They will surely recognize the importance of accommodating practitioners' physical needs, and this should be nothing new to them. Rest assured,

--Joe

dbranch wrote:According to a blog called Hardcore Zen, one must sit on a cushion, but I have kyphosis and scoliosis and so cannot last very long.

I'm 18, just starting to read about Zen, and quite excited about starting. However it's very discouraging that I can't practice the normal position. Also it makes me less confident to go to a sitting group because they might not have a chair etc.

In my brief history with Centering Prayer, an armchair was fine for my back. Can I practice zazen in an armchair?

Thanks,
David
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Re: Kyphosis (back) problem, can I sit in armchair?

Postby TTT on Fri Mar 13, 2015 5:23 am

dbranch wrote:According to a blog called Hardcore Zen, one must sit on a cushion, but I have kyphosis and scoliosis and so cannot last very long.

I'm 18, just starting to read about Zen, and quite excited about starting. However it's very discouraging that I can't practice the normal position. Also it makes me less confident to go to a sitting group because they might not have a chair etc.

In my brief history with Centering Prayer, an armchair was fine for my back. Can I practice zazen in an armchair?

Thanks,
David


Yes, you can practis Zazen in a chair.
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Re: Kyphosis (back) problem, can I sit in armchair?

Postby Chrisd on Fri Mar 13, 2015 9:19 am

With most groups I went to there were some people sitting in chairs, it's no problem.
I wish you well :heya:
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Re: Kyphosis (back) problem, can I sit in armchair?

Postby macdougdoug on Fri Mar 13, 2015 11:08 am

I only sit traditional style when practising with a group - like at a retreat.

At home I always use a chair - though I do not use the back rest - sitting up straight in order to avoid drowsiness.

The important bit is to practise everyday (or as much as possible) and to remain alert (but relaxed) and aware of where the mind is wandering. (though there will be moments of inattention, this is quite normal and healthy)
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Re: Kyphosis (back) problem, can I sit in armchair?

Postby dbranch on Fri Mar 13, 2015 8:45 pm

Thanks for all the responses, guys. I think I'll try out a group soon..

David
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Re: Kyphosis (back) problem, can I sit in armchair?

Postby Michaeljc on Sat Mar 14, 2015 12:13 pm

I have used both during intensive retreats. Chair sitting is more difficult in terms of sitting zazen. I would get taught lotus and try to build up over time at home. You may surprise yourself. :)
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Re: Kyphosis (back) problem, can I sit in armchair?

Postby dbranch on Mon Mar 16, 2015 11:19 pm

Michaeljc wrote:I have used both during intensive retreats. Chair sitting is more difficult in terms of sitting zazen. I would get taught lotus and try to build up over time at home. You may surprise yourself. :)

Yes, thanks, and I will add in some yoga as well.
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Re: Kyphosis (back) problem, can I sit in armchair?

Postby Michaeljc on Tue Mar 17, 2015 5:04 am

Be aware that discomfort is inevitable at some point during Zazen. We all have to make a personal judgment on just how much is acceptable and decide when to back -off a bit. We also have to decide when pain is actually associated with bodily harm and act accordingly. Teachers cannot do this for us. Non-destructive back pain is very common among practitioners. Your dilemma will be to differentiation between your condition and normal discomfort.

The trick is to start off small and slowly build. We all learn a lot about our physical and mental states during this practice. Real intensive pain can often be purely psychosomatic. These things don't usually come into play short of intensive sitting over days. Its all part of dealing with everyday life.

Good luck

Michael
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Re: Kyphosis (back) problem, can I sit in armchair?

Postby bubuyaya on Tue Mar 17, 2015 11:05 am

dbranch wrote:According to a blog called Hardcore Zen, one must sit on a cushion, but I have kyphosis and scoliosis and so cannot last very long.
I'm 18, just starting to read about Zen, and quite excited about starting.
However it's very discouraging that I can't practice the normal position.
Also it makes me less confident to go to a sitting group because they might not have a chair etc.

In my brief history with Centering Prayer, an armchair was fine for my back.
Can I practice zazen in an armchair?


Zazen is sitting on the Buddhism's End, which is Thatagatha family seat.
Thatagatha seat is not seen by any kind of formed being, but alway's people's original I, which is A and Z, which is also Dbranch's only real I.

Dbranch, you are physically 18 old kyphosis man.
But your solitary real I is not that young, not that kyposis, even not different from Thatagatta's.
Solitary real I can't be different from this bubuyaya.

How do people assume this?
As I do see and Dbranch also do see.
As I don't see and Dbranch also don't see.
As Dbranch do think and don't think, likewise I do think and don't think.
Therefore people may know that people's I is not different from each other.

Seeing I, which is with this body, is not different from writing I.
Therefore real Zazen is very easy, so near to everyday every moment whatever activicities.
The only Truth, which has no exception, is people's real I.
Kalpas's ago I is just this moment's real I.

Understanding and believing this Dbranch's real I is Dbranch's Zazen.
Returned to this Dbranch's real I is the so called enlightenment.
Living as Dbranch's real I shall be Dbranch Buddha Life.

Therefore Jesus say, "Return to (each people's) me, I am Way, the eternal Life and Light."
Shakya Buddha say, "Return to (each people's) me, turn on (each people's) my Lamp."

Dbranch may need more easy posture?
Do you love to see many walking Buddha people on the street?
Then why don't try your own lying Zazen or sleeping Zazen?
Trials are possible when you have your own right goal orinented understanding.

Zen people may have right understanding before doing any dark practicing.
So Dbranch also can think and digest Sutras sincerely, are'nt you?
Most Sutras are Buddha's so more reliable.
When chair is easy, why not?
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Re: Kyphosis (back) problem, can I sit in armchair?

Postby jiblet on Wed Apr 08, 2015 12:51 pm

dbranch wrote:According to a blog called Hardcore Zen, one must sit on a cushion, but I have kyphosis and scoliosis and so cannot last very long.
[...]
Can I practice zazen in an armchair?

Thanks,
David


I know this thread is a little old now and dbranch may be long gone, but I want to correct a mistake in his opening comment.

The Hardcore Zen blog referred to must be Brad Warner's blog: http://hardcorezen.info/ and I'm assuming that by "one must sit on a cushion" the OP is referring to BW's insistence that cross-legged sitting on the floor (using a cushion) is the best way to sit zazen. Brad has, on occasions, gone further, saying that sitting in lotus IS zazen (Brad is a Dharma-heir of Gudo Nishijima and great fan of Eihei Dogen - this shouldn't be surprising).

Years ago (2004?) Brad wrote a piece called "Correct Posture Required" (I think... I can't find it right now. Maybe it was called "Proper Posture Required. ...Can't find that, either!). This led to Brad being labelled, of course, a posture Nazi. Over the years Brad has revisited the posture issue many times on his blog - to clarify his point that yes, while sitting in lotus (full lotus if you can manage it) is best, if you truly cannot do that, you will find your own way, and what you're doing will still be zazen.

Note: if you truly cannot do it - not if you tried once or twice and found it impossible. Many people find lotus initially impossible and can't be bothered to pursue it. They then find excuses to account for their experience (or lack of): "There's nothing magical about lotus," "As long as you're comfortable.." "What matters is what your mind is doing"... I tried and also found it impossible. But, for whatever reason, I stuck at it, starting with an uncomfortable quarter lotus. At the age of 53 it took me about 3 years to be able to sit comfotably in full lotus. But I'm slim and have always been pretty limber. It was worth the effort.

None of which - as Brad has been at pains to point out - has anything to do with those people who, as a result of a specific medical condition or physical limitation, are simply unable to sit cross legged however many yoga/stretching exercises they do and however slowly they take it. For those people there are other ways to sit. And it's for them - and their teacher - to find a way that works. No one else.

So I'm not giving anyone advice about how to sit, I Just wanted to correct the impression that may've been given by the OP: that Brad Warner says you MUST in full lotus and that if you don't what you're doing doesn't count. The guy gets enough stick as it is (from the few people that know he exists and are interested enough to bother) - that's not what he says.

Carry on : )

And all the best, David!
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Re: Kyphosis (back) problem, can I sit in armchair?

Postby dbranch on Fri Jun 24, 2016 5:32 am

jiblet wrote:
dbranch wrote:According to a blog called Hardcore Zen, one must sit on a cushion, but I have kyphosis and scoliosis and so cannot last very long.
[...]
Can I practice zazen in an armchair?

Thanks,
David


I know this thread is a little old now and dbranch may be long gone, but I want to correct a mistake in his opening comment.

The Hardcore Zen blog referred to must be Brad Warner's blog:


Thank you jiblet... Now it's 2016 and I'm finally going to a Zen center, this coming Monday. I got Brad's book "Sit down and shut up" in the mail today and "I'm lovin' it".

David

PS: Thank you for the correction. :)
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