importance of posture for zazen

Discussion of meditation in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.

importance of posture for zazen

Postby bodom » Thu Nov 26, 2009 7:01 pm

I have sat insight meditation for the past few years and have grown comfortable with the eyes closed, right hand in left hand posture. I would like to try sitting zazen and understand that there is great importance placed on the posture used in zazen such as sitting with left hand in right using the cosmic mudra and sitting with eyes open. My question is if i continue to sit in the way i currently am (eyes closed, right hand in left) would i still be considered to be sitting zazen? My understanding is that zazen should be independent of posture. Many thanks in advance.

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Re: importance of posture for zazen

Postby hungryghost » Sat Nov 28, 2009 7:40 am

As far as the hands go, I wouldnt worry about it. There might be some benefit in learning to sit zazen with your eyes open slightly. After all, you dont walk around, work, and go to the bathroom with your eyes closed right? These things are also all zazen.
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Re: importance of posture for zazen

Postby catmoon » Sat Nov 28, 2009 3:39 pm

My impression from reading is that Zen is more particular about posture than most. Maybe the idea is to take posture itself as the object of meditation, who knows?
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Re: importance of posture for zazen

Postby Luke » Sat Nov 28, 2009 10:49 pm

catmoon wrote:My impression from reading is that Zen is more particular about posture than most.

Yes, In my Tibetan Buddhist sangha, one of our members who used to do Zen has the best sitting posture. He's always seriously sitting very straight and perfect in his quarter lotus posture--but now with his hands on his knees because my sangha uses this manner of sitting which comes from Marpa.

catmoon wrote:Maybe the idea is to take posture itself as the object of meditation, who knows?

I've never had a Zen teacher, so I'm not qualified to comment on Zen, but my lama taught one method of shinay which was exactly that. You simply focus on maintaining all the points of an ideal posture. When you deviate from them, you are aware and fix them. No special focus on your breath in necessary. I wonder if the shikantaza method of Zen is similar to this method of shinay?
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Re: importance of posture for zazen

Postby hungryghost » Sun Nov 29, 2009 9:03 am

In the practice of shikantaza, one takes the posture as his object of meditation, letting all thoughts come and go as they will. There are other focuses in zazen, different skillful means for different people. In our sangha you start by counting your breath. There is 'following' the breath in and out without counting. Also, there is a large curriculum of koans to sit with. I am investigating Joshu's "Mu". Its usually the first koan given in our sangha. You really ought to find a good sangha to practice with and have someone show you these things in person. It makes a big difference!
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Re: importance of posture for zazen

Postby catmoon » Mon Nov 30, 2009 8:59 pm

BTW I have this posture problem...

I find that there is always a strong tension in certain muscles which limits my meditation endurance to thirty minutes or so. The muscles that connect the pelvis and legs together are under steady tension all the time I am sitting. If I relax them I immediately fall over backwards while my legs stay in place. To make the tension go away I have to lean forward as much 45 degrees and that leads to tension in the back and neck.
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Re: importance of posture for zazen

Postby hungryghost » Tue Dec 01, 2009 7:34 am

are you sitting on a zafu? if so, try adjusting the height you are sitting at. Putting a flat cushion under your zafu to make your self higher. And if you want to not be so high.......I dunno get a flatter zafu!?!?! I find that taller people need more height. Experiment. I put a old and fairly flattened bed pillow under my zafu. Some companies that make and sell meditation supplies sell various support cushions. Endless knot has some good stuff.
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Re: importance of posture for zazen

Postby catmoon » Tue Dec 01, 2009 8:45 am

hungryghost wrote:are you sitting on a zafu? if so, try adjusting the height you are sitting at. Putting a flat cushion under your zafu to make your self higher. And if you want to not be so high.......I dunno get a flatter zafu!?!?! I find that taller people need more height. Experiment. I put a old and fairly flattened bed pillow under my zafu. Some companies that make and sell meditation supplies sell various support cushions. Endless knot has some good stuff.


OK I'll try some more elevation. I'm currently using a couple of bed pillows, they squish down...
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Re: importance of posture for zazen

Postby BFS » Tue Dec 01, 2009 3:15 pm

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Re: importance of posture for zazen

Postby catmoon » Wed Dec 02, 2009 3:02 am

Ooh that looks nice. Send me 2 plz. :)
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Re: importance of posture for zazen

Postby hungryghost » Fri Dec 04, 2009 4:48 am

catmoon wrote:
hungryghost wrote:are you sitting on a zafu? if so, try adjusting the height you are sitting at. Putting a flat cushion under your zafu to make your self higher. And if you want to not be so high.......I dunno get a flatter zafu!?!?! I find that taller people need more height. Experiment. I put a old and fairly flattened bed pillow under my zafu. Some companies that make and sell meditation supplies sell various support cushions. Endless knot has some good stuff.


OK I'll try some more elevation. I'm currently using a couple of bed pillows, they squish down...


I sat on a bed pillow for about the first year and a half...i found that if you can roll the pillow up like a burrito sorta it will squish down less. this probably wont work for all pillows...i sometimes used a thick bed quilt and rolled it up real tight.
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