Sloth/Torpor vs Back Pain

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
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Sloth/Torpor vs Back Pain

Post by K.Dhamma » Sun Jun 16, 2013 3:17 am

Well, the title kind of describes it all.

If I use my buckwheat zafu for some reason I tend to fall asleep a lot more but I don't appear to have any back pain. When I don't use my zafu I tend to get much better concentration, focus, and deeper meditation BUT my mid back starts to hurt and it gets tight in one spot. I meditate for 45 minutes in the morning and 45 minutes in the evening doing breath meditation(anapanasati).

I sit in half lotus and from time to time burmese.

Things I have tried:
No meditation to get back to a point of no pain nor tightness - Still came back.
Ice and hot packs - it helps, but not a good long term solution.
Ibuprofen - Helps with pain, but tightness remains.
Checked posture on zafu - I could not discern any particular slouching or anything that would cause me to be more sleepy.
Checked posture off zafu - l had my wife check my posture and she says that everything looks good.

Normally this wouldn't even be a problem to be honest, but I am doing a retreat in about 3 months time and it's a 10 day Goenka retreat and although I am confident that I could sit through the pain; it doesn't necessarily mean that I should.

The only thing I could think of doing was taking out some of the buckwheat until I find a middle ground. Any other suggestions?
(FYI I do plan on going to a chiropractor to at least be checked to make sure nothing is wrong)
"Remember you dont meditate to get anything, but to get rid of things. We do it, not with desire, but with letting go. If you want anything, you wont find it." - Ajahn Chah

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Re: Sloth/Torpor vs Back Pain

Post by Ben » Sun Jun 16, 2013 3:33 am

Chiropractor ASAP.

The treatment will probably need to be carried out over multiple visits but it is worth it.
In the meantime, try to "make friends" with the back pain, as much as humanly possible.
During the Goenka retreat you will be taught a technique which focuses on the anicca characteristic of sensation. And for the vast majority of new students, the predominant sensation during their first few ten-day courses are various aches and pains that arise during meditation and developing equanimity with respect to all sensations that are experienced.
My recommendation is to go and see your chiropractor and get whatever organic issues sorted out.
kind regards,

“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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purple planet
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Re: Sloth/Torpor vs Back Pain

Post by purple planet » Fri Jun 21, 2013 9:33 pm

Yes i have a great suggestion - because if you can sit with no back pain thats the best

Do walking meditation exactly the same time you do the sitting meditation - this is exactly meant to deal with sleepiness !

and meditate in a lit room with lots of sun or at least with some good lights on - not in a dark room

not sure maybe even try different times of the day - im not sure but it might help

also maybe to sleep part of the time is not that bad

but i think the most important think is to do the walking meditation - and by adding that even if you sleep the entire sitting meditation you will still have the walking meditation - which in my experience can even advance you faster then sitting - even when it feels like there is a lack of concentration it is still very effective
Please send merit to my dog named Mika who has passed away - thanks in advance

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Re: Sloth/Torpor vs Back Pain

Post by Modus.Ponens » Fri Jun 21, 2013 10:30 pm

I used to have lots of knee pain, but when I adopted this technique it is much, much better. I start by focusing on the nostrils. When the breath starts to become difficult to perceive, I shift the focus to "breathing in sensitive to the whole body; breathing out sensitive to the whole body". This, to me, means observing the sensations in the whole body as a result of breathing. What happens is that if I do this step, I can hold much longer without knee pain.

Good luck. :)
He turns his mind away from those phenomena, and having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.'
(Jhana Sutta - Thanissaro Bhikkhu translation)

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Re: Sloth/Torpor vs Back Pain

Post by kilanta » Sat Jun 22, 2013 11:11 am

K.Dhamma wrote:Well, the title kind of describes it all.
Normally this wouldn't even be a problem to be honest, but I am doing a retreat in about 3 months time and it's a 10 day Goenka retreat and although I am confident that I could sit through the pain; it doesn't necessarily mean that I should.
Mr. Goenka's tapes probably give you another point of view to this, but before that I'd second to those who recomment treatment (chiropractor, doctor, whatever makes it better). Your practice seems quite organized so I guess you've already tried stretching? If you haven't, then maybe Ven. Rahula's videos which have been posted previously on DW are of some use:

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