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Zazen Posture

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Zazen Posture

Postby Meido on Sun Mar 22, 2015 6:24 am

We took some photos here today for an upcoming publication, illustrating basic points of meditation posture including some common errors. In particular, errors in pelvic alignment are very common. For these shots I wore a samue and took off the top to make things easier to see (please excuse the skin).

Of course check with your teacher regarding your own situation: these are just very general points. But perhaps they might be helpful for some folks. These also serve to better illustrate some of the things that have been discussed in past threads on the subject.

It was actually very interesting taking these shots, as I had to assume postures that are incorrect in an almost exaggerated way and hold them for a while while the photographer did his thing. Observing the effects that immediately manifested from each of them reinforced many things my teachers have said (and also brought back unpleasant memories of early training years).


INCORRECT ZAZEN POSTURE: excessive lordosis (curve) in the low back. The diaphragm cannot move well, and breathing will be shallow. Note that the stomach does not hang freely: the navel actually points downward. The resultant state of mind will be tense, with increased gross thought activity. You may be able to sense from the photo that the energetic movement in this body is upward. A person sitting in this way will experience tension and heat in the upper body and head.

Image


INCORRECT ZAZEN POSTURE: Leaning too far to the rear. This can feel comfortable for beginners, whose postural muscles are weak due to overuse of chairs and other reasons. But over time, the struggle with gravity inherent to this posture will cause fatigue. The state of mind will often be cloudy. One tricky aspect of this particular postural error is that, with clothing on, it can appear somewhat straight and relaxed. But it actually is completely lacking in vitality.

Image


BALANCED ZAZEN POSTURE: The sacrum has been allowed to drop, reducing lordosis. There is a slight forward attitude in general, not leaning backward. The stomach hangs freely, but the hara (lower abdominal area or center) is "set", which is revealed by the solar plexus being concave and the navel pointing upward...breathing as used in Rinzai practice (tanden soku) creates this. The energetic movement is settled in the abdomen and lower half of the body.

Image

~ Meido
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The Rinzai Zen Community: http://www.rinzaizen.org
Korinji monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺]: http://www.korinji.org
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Re: Zazen Posture

Postby Chrisd on Sun Mar 22, 2015 11:35 am

Interesting! Thx Meido! :rbow:
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Re: Zazen Posture

Postby littletsu on Sun Mar 22, 2015 1:41 pm

Thanks for this, Meido!
Did you also take full body pictures? It could help to see/feel the alignment of the head and the back, and the whole
posture - I assume.
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Re: Zazen Posture

Postby desert_woodworker on Sun Mar 22, 2015 4:10 pm

Meido,

Thanks for spreading the Good word! (each photo is worth a thousand). And your words and guidance are pointedly helpful.

These are great blessings you bestow.

No prob. about "skin". For the "warm" desert, you're actually dressed perfectly. :tongueincheek:

(nah, I was gonna say "over-dressed", but nobody has to know that).

--Joe / Tucson
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Re: Zazen Posture

Postby Meido on Sun Mar 22, 2015 6:33 pm

Was just in Tucson, Joe, should have remembered you were in that area. Next time will let you know, perhaps we could sit together.

Littletsu, have a bunch of photos, will post more at some point. I'm not the perfect model, though, so in the meantime I'd refer you to Kamakura-era sculpture :)

~ Meido
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The Rinzai Zen Community: http://www.rinzaizen.org
Korinji monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺]: http://www.korinji.org
Madison Rinzai Zen Community/Ryugen-ji [機山龍源寺]: http://www.madisonrinzaizen.org
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Re: Zazen Posture

Postby desert_woodworker on Sun Mar 22, 2015 11:04 pm

Meido,

Heck, I'm sorry I missed you! I hope we had good weather while you were here (didja see the Rodeo?).

I'd be glad to meet you anywhere. And I hope we can sit, perhaps at some practice place you may visit out this way. I'll be a disappointment: my practice is not strong. But your presence will surely help.

I'll include my pers. contact info in a PM, Meido, just in case I'm distracted from monitoring ZFI -- I'm being called back to work to do some things for a spacecraft project here soon, dunno how long the work will last, but launch is not for another 515 days. Delightful, to be called out of retirement; hope I still have the vim and vinegar.

:Namaste:

--Joe

Meido wrote:
Was just in Tucson, Joe, should have remembered you were in that area. Next time will let you know, perhaps we could sit together.

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Re: Zazen Posture

Postby Guo Gu on Mon Mar 23, 2015 2:32 pm

good stuff, meido.

to add to the caveats of incorrect postures:
in your second picture, it is not uncommon that the person develops symptoms of energy blocks--shoulder pain, headache, toothache--on the upper part of the body.
in your second picture, not only is the person's posture unstable, it will also eventually develop lower back pain or nerve pinch as the coccyx is being pressed upon.

women's and men's bodies are naturally different. women with large breasts will often have mid back pain (due to the extra weight at the chest and the build up of energy block), so they would have to compromise in their sitting posture--the balance point may be a slight backward lean (not quite like your second picture but close) with the sacrum dropped. for them, this is actually a better posture.

then there's the practitioner (usually elderly) with a hump on the base of their neck, at the beginning of the upper vertebrae.... all of these require special attention and balance.

meido, have you thought about including another common posture--the kind that seasoned practitioners may slip into: sitting in the ghost cave on the dark side of the mountain? you know where i'm talking about, right? where back is ever so slightly arched and energy has completely sunken down, stagnant.

be well,
guo gu
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Re: Zazen Posture

Postby Meido on Mon Mar 23, 2015 6:25 pm

Thanks for chiming in with additional useful details, Guo Gu.

Good idea about another photo as well. These three are for a resource geared toward beginners, but not a bad idea to point out the really comfortable, warm, quiet and useless place!

~ Meido
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The Rinzai Zen Community: http://www.rinzaizen.org
Korinji monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺]: http://www.korinji.org
Madison Rinzai Zen Community/Ryugen-ji [機山龍源寺]: http://www.madisonrinzaizen.org
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Re: Zazen Posture

Postby fukasetsu on Mon Mar 23, 2015 6:29 pm

pic 2 is a typical error I make, but pain in the neck is a sign to automatically correct it.

I once hardly could move my neck for a few days after an 8 hour samadhi experience
Differences are never in opposition.
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Re: Zazen Posture

Postby Guo Gu on Tue Mar 24, 2015 8:53 pm

Guo Gu wrote:good stuff, meido.

to add to the caveats of incorrect postures:
in your second picture, it is not uncommon that the person develops symptoms of energy blocks--shoulder pain, headache, toothache--on the upper part of the body.


this should be: "in your first picture...." not sure why i can't go back to edit my post. anyway, just realized i made a mistake.
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Re: Zazen Posture

Postby Meido on Tue Mar 24, 2015 9:04 pm

Thanks for clarifying, Guo Gu, that jibes well with my own experience (headaches, shoulder pain, dry mouth, etc.)

:Namaste:

~ Meido
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The Rinzai Zen Community: http://www.rinzaizen.org
Korinji monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺]: http://www.korinji.org
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Re: Zazen Posture

Postby Guo Gu on Tue Mar 24, 2015 9:49 pm

sure. i want to commend you for doing this. a book with pictures of the torso (without a shirt or maybe a tight shirt?) so ppl can see actually what the posture should be is much needed (esp. when nearly all instructional books just focus on the "legs" and "full lotus" postures with no instruction on the torso, lumbar region). it's not as a substitute for learning meditation without the guidance of a teacher but as a supplement. i for one would buy the book and use it for students.

so a (young) body that demonstrates a correct posture is great, but the posture should also not discourage ppl from sitting--especially when most ppl's body do not look like the one in the pictures. i can't help but think that most ppl's bodies simply do not look like your nice, healthy body :). so to make it down to earth, your eventual book would be even more useful to common folks if you use different body types--realistic body types of folks in their 40s, 50s, 60s--to pose as models for the photos and show ppl can adjust their posture and accommodate themselves. otherwise, the majority of americans/westerners will not be able to identify themselves with these photos. the last thing the book needs to come across is to be like those perfect body yoga advertisements that no one can live up to!

anyway, great job meido!

be well,
guo gu
Founder and teacher of Tallahassee Chan Center of the Dharma Drum Lineage of Chan Buddhism
http://www.tallahasseechan.com/
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Re: Zazen Posture

Postby Meido on Tue Mar 24, 2015 11:16 pm

Ha! Pictures can be deceiving :)

But a very good suggestion. It would be nice to have several models, not only of different ages but also of different experience levels.

~ Meido
明道禅徹
The Rinzai Zen Community: http://www.rinzaizen.org
Korinji monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺]: http://www.korinji.org
Madison Rinzai Zen Community/Ryugen-ji [機山龍源寺]: http://www.madisonrinzaizen.org
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Re: Zazen Posture

Postby organizational on Wed Mar 25, 2015 10:16 am

Guo Gu wrote:
Guo Gu wrote:good stuff, meido.

to add to the caveats of incorrect postures:
in your second picture, it is not uncommon that the person develops symptoms of energy blocks--shoulder pain, headache, toothache--on the upper part of the body.


this should be: "in your first picture...." not sure why i can't go back to edit my post. anyway, just realized i made a mistake.


:Namaste:
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Re: Zazen Posture

Postby Michaeljc on Wed Mar 25, 2015 1:55 pm

There is only one feature in which I surpass you Meido – a fully developed Buddha - belly :lol2:
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Re: Zazen Posture

Postby desert_woodworker on Wed Mar 25, 2015 8:09 pm

Michael, Meido, et al.;

buddh_belly.gif

--Joe
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Re: Zazen Posture

Postby merella on Thu Jul 30, 2015 4:09 am

Hi Meido,

It appears the photos are no longer visible for this post. Any other way they can be viewed?

I'm always interested in checking out different takes on postures, especially those that facilitate abdominal breathing and focusing on the hara.

Gassho.
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Re: Zazen Posture

Postby Meido on Thu Jul 30, 2015 3:15 pm

Hi Merella, thanks for letting me know, I'll repost them sometime before this evening.

Gassho,
Meido
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The Rinzai Zen Community: http://www.rinzaizen.org
Korinji monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺]: http://www.korinji.org
Madison Rinzai Zen Community/Ryugen-ji [機山龍源寺]: http://www.madisonrinzaizen.org
http://rinzaiheartland.blogspot.com
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Re: Zazen Posture

Postby Meido on Thu Jul 30, 2015 3:51 pm

Here you go. We've since added vertical lines to the images to make alignments more clear.


INCORRECT ZAZEN POSTURE: excessive lordosis (curve) in the low back. The diaphragm cannot move well, and breathing will be shallow. Note that the stomach does not hang freely: the navel actually points downward. The resultant state of mind will be tense, with increased gross thought activity. You may be able to sense from the photo that the energetic movement in this body is upward. A person sitting in this way will experience tension and heat in the upper body and head.

CURVE.jpg



INCORRECT ZAZEN POSTURE: Leaning too far to the rear. This can feel comfortable for beginners, whose postural muscles are weak due to overuse of chairs and other reasons. But over time, the struggle with gravity inherent to this posture will cause fatigue. The state of mind will often be cloudy. One tricky aspect of this particular postural error is that, with clothing on, it can appear somewhat straight and relaxed. But it actually is completely lacking in vitality.

LEAN.jpg



BALANCED ZAZEN POSTURE: The sacrum has been allowed to drop, reducing lordosis. There is a slight forward attitude in general, not leaning backward. The stomach hangs freely, but the hara (lower abdominal area or center) is "set", which is revealed by the solar plexus being concave (see arrow) and the navel pointing upward...breathing as used in Rinzai practice (tanden soku) creates this. The energetic movement is settled in the abdomen and lower half of the body.

CORRECTPOSTURE.jpg
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明道禅徹
The Rinzai Zen Community: http://www.rinzaizen.org
Korinji monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺]: http://www.korinji.org
Madison Rinzai Zen Community/Ryugen-ji [機山龍源寺]: http://www.madisonrinzaizen.org
http://rinzaiheartland.blogspot.com
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Re: Zazen Posture

Postby desert_woodworker on Thu Jul 30, 2015 4:05 pm

Meido,

Good morning!

The re-posted images look great from where I sit. The black vertical line is a very helpful addition for the eye, too. Thank you!

best,

--Joe
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