Meditating on the couch

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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budo
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Meditating on the couch

Post by budo » Fri Nov 12, 2010 1:04 am

I have a question, how important is it to meditate without back support, just on the floor with/without a cushion. When I meditate on my carpet, I slouch and try to keep my back straight, half lotus position, however because of the effort, after 15-20 minutes, I become agitated/irritated and think about how much longer I can go, I almost give up.

However, when I meditate on the couch, also half lotus position, I am very comfortable, and can meditate for 2-3 hours. I even get to the point where my concentration is all in my head, and can no longer feel the hands/legs. I can feel them, but also can't feel them at the same time, hard to explain, it's as if all my awareness is in my head. (Is this jhana, or access concentration?).

Anyways, should I continue meditating on the couch effortlessly, or should I force myself to sit properly on the floor for 15-20 minutes. Is 15-20 minutes of effort/forcing better than 2-3 hours of effortless access concentration meditation? My back is weak and my posture is poor, and my shoulders hurt after some time of trying to force them to be straight when I'm on the floor.

Thanks for your input!

Budo

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Ben
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Re: Meditating on the couch

Post by Ben » Fri Nov 12, 2010 1:22 am

budo wrote:I have a question, how important is it to meditate without back support, just on the floor with/without a cushion.
Its irrelevant.
budo wrote:(Is this jhana, or access concentration?).
Without knowing you, what you are doing and how you are doing it, its impossible to say.
If I were to guess...I would say probably not to either.
budo wrote:Anyways, should I continue meditating on the couch effortlessly, or should I force myself to sit properly on the floor for 15-20 minutes.
Sitting on the floor will help you to develop equanimity and adhitthana (strong determination), but could also lead you to develop aversion. You decide.
budo wrote:Is 15-20 minutes of effort/forcing better than 2-3 hours of effortless...meditation?
Again, its not knowable. You're the best judge.
budo wrote:My back is weak and my posture is poor, and my shoulders hurt after some time of trying to force them to be straight when I'm on the floor.
Sabbe vedana anatta (all sensations are not-self)
“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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Hoo
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Re: Meditating on the couch

Post by Hoo » Fri Nov 12, 2010 2:16 am

Hi budo...good questions, Hi Ben...good answers :)

As old age, illness and medication have crept up on me, I also choose how I will "sit." For me it is in a firm chair in front of a very sturdy desk - better to get up when I have solid support. IMHO, there's no such thing as doing it in the "wrong" position. Others may debate it but I think there's a strong indication that it is better to do a bit, than to do none. Buddha practiced with/as an ascetic, so extremes of asceticism were seen as not the way.

The other indication I'm fond of is the comments I sometimes read like, "When was I not meditating? When was I not mindful?" To me this indicates that meditation is not a time or a place, nor is it a position...it is this moment.

I liked your indication that the form can teach you something, AND it is good to not develop an aversion. The middle way is best.

But take any comments of mine as simply my views. I'm still a beginner and not an accomplished meditator in terms of formal Buddhist "sitting."

Hoo - student of the arthritis method ;)

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Goofaholix
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Re: Meditating on the couch

Post by Goofaholix » Fri Nov 12, 2010 2:18 am

Sitting with your back unsupported helps to keep you aware and awake, you can sit with your back supported but you are more likely to develop bad posture, get sllepy, or drift into a dream like unaware state.

As Ben says it's hard to know but I'd be willing to bet that the state you've described is actually a dream like unaware state.

If I were you I'd develop the habit of sitting with your back unsupported until it gets uncomfortable, then sit and observe that for a while, then move to the couch when you've had enough, then maybe later return for more.

That way you are training your body as well as your mind.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

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Spiny O'Norman
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Re: Meditating on the couch

Post by Spiny O'Norman » Fri Nov 12, 2010 11:22 am

budo wrote:Anyways, should I continue meditating on the couch effortlessly, or should I force myself to sit properly on the floor for 15-20 minutes. Is 15-20 minutes of effort/forcing better than 2-3 hours of effortless access concentration meditation?
My opinion is that you should do what works. IMO we meditate in order to calm and investigate the mind - not to do yoga, or to subject ourselves to physical discomfort, or conform to some cultural tradition.

Spiny

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Bonsai Doug
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Re: Meditating on the couch

Post by Bonsai Doug » Fri Nov 12, 2010 2:43 pm

Spiny O'Norman wrote:My opinion is that you should do what works. IMO we meditate in order to calm and investigate the mind
I too agree. And if a prone posture works the best regarding physical restrictions, then so be it.

It may sound a bit morbid, but this position is known as the corpse pose in Yoga.

You lay on your back on the floor, preferably on a carpet or mat and allow your arms to rest at your side, with palms upward. Your legs should be straight and your feet should be gently turned outwards.
Now having obtained a precious human body,
I do not have the luxury of remaining on a distracted path.

~ Tibetan Book of the Dead

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andre9999
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Re: Meditating on the couch

Post by andre9999 » Fri Nov 12, 2010 4:09 pm

I can't remember where, but I read somewhere that Gautama Buddha spent the majority of his meditation time on his back. More power to him... Some days I have a hard enough time not falling over just from having my eyes closed in an upright position.

I agree to just do whatever works. You do your practice at your own pace. If you find you need something more attentive to have a better practice, then do it. If not, then don't. It's your show.

:popcorn:

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