Knees hurt

Discussion of meditation in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.

Knees hurt

Postby baileyd123 » Thu Nov 21, 2013 1:47 am

I try to meditate for at least 20 minutes every night either in a basic cross-legged position or half lotus. To have enough flexibility for the half-lotus I have to spend about 30 minutes stretching beforehand, and still half-way through my meditation my knees will begin to hurt. Is this something that will eventually go away with more stretching? If so could you provide me with specific stretches that would be most beneficial? Or is this just something I'm stuck with?

I know the easy solution would be: don't attempt the half-lotus. But I find that in this position my spine is most stable and I can comfortably meditate for a longer period (other than my knees, of course)

Any help is much appreciated. Thank you.
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Re: Knees hurt

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Thu Nov 21, 2013 2:03 am

You don't mention how old you are. Age can make a difference.
25 years ago, i could sit any which way.
Today, I can still sit cross legged with my knees practically touching the ground, but it gets harder.

Approach things gradually, so you don't injure yourself.
The body is constantly reshaping itself. Even bones, which we think of as not changing very much, change.
Remember, it is the mind that meditates, not the knees,
so si6t in a chair now and then if it's easier.
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Re: Knees hurt

Postby Adamantine » Thu Nov 21, 2013 2:06 am

baileyd123 wrote:I try to meditate for at least 20 minutes every night either in a basic cross-legged position or half lotus. To have enough flexibility for the half-lotus I have to spend about 30 minutes stretching beforehand, and still half-way through my meditation my knees will begin to hurt. Is this something that will eventually go away with more stretching? If so could you provide me with specific stretches that would be most beneficial? Or is this just something I'm stuck with?

I know the easy solution would be: don't attempt the half-lotus. But I find that in this position my spine is most stable and I can comfortably meditate for a longer period (other than my knees, of course)

Any help is much appreciated. Thank you.


Well, the first question is how are you setting up your position? Are you elevating your "sit-bones" so that your hips are above your knees?

If the answer is no, then you are going to encounter all kinds of problems. When you sit full-lotus, the knees naturally descend slightly below the hips. But when you sit in half-lotus, unless you elevate your seat with a cushion of some kind, perhaps a "gomden" cushion or a "zafu", then you are going to create stress on your knees and your back as well. Posture is absolutely essential when meditating. And this is part of that: the 7-point posture of Vairochana is ideally expressed in full-lotus. But if one can not reside at all, or for long, in full lotus then you have to be realistic about your needs in half-lotus and use the appropriate tools. For the record, the info about the placement of the knees in half-lotus came from a Alexander-technique teacher and long time practitioner so it is professional advice!
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Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha
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Re: Knees hurt

Postby baileyd123 » Fri Nov 22, 2013 9:25 pm

I'm 16 but have been largely unflexible my whole life. I've never been able to touch my toes with my legs straight.
I do use a full-body pillow folded in half and this puts my knees at about the same level as my hips in a regular cross-legged position, and below my hips in half lotus.
I have tried sitting in a chair but for some reason I always find myself getting drowsy (I don't use the back for support).
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Re: Knees hurt

Postby Tenzin Dorje » Fri Nov 22, 2013 9:40 pm

Hey friend,

it is better if you find a way to get your knees touch the ground. Ideally, there should be 3 spots touching the ground : the knees, and the "bottom" actually the part between the genitals and the anus, right where the spine ends, so that your back's straight.

It depends a lot on how you sit on your cushion (actually "where"), the height of the cushion, and the material of it. Are you sure that the bottom part between your genitals and anus is that which touches the ground ?

If you can't do so, it is most important to have the back straight, though, so as to avoid gross laxity to arise.
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Re: Knees hurt

Postby daverupa » Fri Nov 22, 2013 9:44 pm

I recommend that you use a kneeling meditation bench, or a small recumbent chair; knee pain is definitely to be avoided.

Beyond this, a straight back is important to combat drowsiness, which is an issue of the erector spinae as well as bone alignment (not, I will add, an issue of the abdominal muscles). There's also possible tension in the neck, shrugged shoulders, tense internal fascia around e.g. the ears, behind the eyes, the jaw... a number of places to watch out for.

But the knees are very important.

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Re: Knees hurt

Postby KonchokZoepa » Fri Nov 22, 2013 9:57 pm

also the inner thigh muscles can cause stress to the knees. so that part is also very good to make sufficiently flexible.

i personally dont use half lotus but i sit cross-legged on a small cushion so that the three points touch the body. there is no tension anywhere and my back is straight. this is the ideal posture for me. and no need to strech or reach half lotus or lotus. its a perfect seat.

it took me a while of streching in the beginning and then just sitting to find a good posture. it will eventually come naturally as you sit more and more and try out what is the best way to be and sit, and what kind of cushion you use is important.
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Re: Knees hurt

Postby Paul » Fri Nov 22, 2013 10:19 pm

baileyd123 wrote:If so could you provide me with specific stretches that would be most beneficial? Or is this just something I'm stuck with?

http://zenmontpellier.voila.net/eng/lotus/lotuseng.html
This nature of mind is spontaneously present.
That spontaneity I was told is the dakini aspect.
Recognizing this should help me
Not to be stuck with fear of being sued.

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Re: Knees hurt

Postby baileyd123 » Sat Nov 23, 2013 6:15 am

Thank you very much. All of this has been very informative and helpful!
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