Maintaining correct spine in both standing and sitting

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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frank k
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Maintaining correct spine in both standing and sitting

Post by frank k » Mon Jul 15, 2019 11:17 am

https://notesonthedhamma.blogspot.com/2 ... ning.html

excerpt:

[0.4] 🏃📐 ujuṃ kāyaṃ paṇidhāya
[0.4] 🏃📐 straightened body (he)-aspires (to),
This really important instruction in 16 APS (breath meditation), is often misunderstood and overlooked.
For emphasis, I've numbered the steps that occur in the sutta instructions that occur right before 16 steps of 16 APS proper (digham va assassanto...).

Misunderstanding #1:
Straightened body is just a preliminary prerequisite before actually doing proper sitting meditation. You just check it once before you start 16 APS, and then check that off your list.

Actually, especially once you can do jhāna easily and have developed the automatic habit of doing passaddhi (pacification, relaxation) at all times, all postures, you'll realize through your own experience, especially when you attempt long sitting meditation sessions, that this instruction to straighten the body actually needs to be checked quite frequently while you're doing 16 APS.

For example, try doing 16 APS standing instead of sitting. Unless you've entered an arupa samādhi while doing 16 APS, you've unconsciously at pretty frequent intervals, checked whether your body was straight and balanced. If you didn't your body would sway and lean and even fall over.

This very important instruction AFAIK doesn't get any detailed commentary in the EBT itself.
And there are very important details you'll have to know to preserve good spinal health, especially if you follow many popular Theravada traditions like Burmese lineages that place great value on doing long sitting sessions, and ignoring body pain to do so.

...
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sunnat
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Re: Maintaining correct spine in both standing and sitting

Post by sunnat » Mon Jul 15, 2019 12:18 pm

This is my take on ujum: I think of my late mother and her crooked spine. Likewise anyone with scoliosis. I wonder if straight is correct.?

From ujum topic:


"Phandanam capalam cittam
durakkham dunnivarayam
ujum karoti medhavi
usukarova tejanam.

Varijova thale khitto
okamokata ubbhato
pariphandatidam cittam
maradheyyam pahatave.

Verse 33: The mind is excitable and unsteady; it is difficult to control and to restrain. The wise one trains his mind to be upright as a fletcher straightens an arrow.

Verse 34: As a fish quivers when taken out of its watery home and thrown on to dry ground, so does the mind quiver when it is taken out of the sensual world to escape from the realm of Mara

Ujum: upright

MahaSatipatthana Sutta

Pallaṅkaṁ ābhujitvā, ujuṁ kāyaṁ paṇidhāya,
After folding his legs crosswise, setting his body straight

Ujum: body set straight

How is a fletchers arrow straightened?

A fletch is the fin added to an arrow in order to make it fly straight.

In other words: the wise one trains the mind, body to be steady while meditating. To stay steady while mara or normal latent tendencies seek to destabilise.

In other words, sit still, making no intentional movement. Sitting crosslegged is a very stable posture. (it is possible to fall asleep and not fall over)

While sitting still, making no intentional movement, various latent tendencies start to manifest themselves. Pain rises and the habit to react by moving asserts itself. When not intentionally moving, instead (of moving) correctly understanding continuously equanimously observing the pain, the four noble truths unfold.

form
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Re: Maintaining correct spine in both standing and sitting

Post by form » Mon Jul 15, 2019 1:43 pm

The sutta mention spine?

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Antaradhana
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Re: Maintaining correct spine in both standing and sitting

Post by Antaradhana » Mon Jul 15, 2019 1:50 pm

form wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 1:43 pm
The sutta mention spine?
In the suttas it says: sits with the body straightened (ujuṃ kāyaṃ) and legs crossed.
All that is subject to arising is subject to termination, all formations are non-permanent. And that which is impermanent is suffering. Regarding what is impermanent and prone to suffering, one cannot say: "This is mine, I am this, this is my self".

frank k
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Joined: Sat Jan 01, 2011 4:55 pm

Re: Maintaining correct spine in both standing and sitting

Post by frank k » Mon Jul 15, 2019 7:39 pm

Added new section to blog post about neck:
https://notesonthedhamma.blogspot.com/2 ... ning.html
excerpt:

Test the neck (cervical vertebrae)
In the modern lifestyle, with the horribly non ergonomic way most kids in school sit at a desk to read/write and study, and people at the office work at a desk in front of a computer, to people in their leisure time slouching into a couch slumping in a bad posture to watch television, or people craning their head down to stare at their cel phone all day, the neck area for most people has devolved into a craning forward wrong posture, compared to the neutral spine (correct posture) where bai hui point on top of head, lines up vertically with hui yin (near tailbone).

The problem is so bad people's perception of what "normal" correct neck and head position relative to the neutral spine, is skewed, so when they stand or sit in meditation, they don't have an accurate kinaesthetic feel for what "correct neck and spine" posture is. In other words, in sitting meditation most people, even after deliberately trying to establish correct posture of spine and neck, will still be in a slumped, head craning forward posture, but it feels "normal" and "correct".

...
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frank k
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Re: Maintaining correct spine in both standing and sitting

Post by frank k » Mon Jul 15, 2019 7:46 pm

While sitting still, making no intentional movement, various latent tendencies start to manifest themselves. Pain rises and the habit to react by moving asserts itself. When not intentionally moving, instead (of moving) correctly understanding continuously equanimously observing the pain, the four noble truths unfold.
There's situations where that applies, but what my article is addressing, and this is really important, is that even highly skilled expert meditators, if they don't have correct posture, if they sit many hours a day regularly and for long sessions (1, 2, 3, 4 ... hours at a time), are going to develop deformed spine, debilitating pain and health problems later in life. Especially if they dogmatically cling to a view that all pain can just be safely ignored and observed equanimously.

Until one has sustainable correct balanced posture (effortlessly maintained for entire long sit), one will have to forcibly check their posture frequently during meditation.

Also, with skilled jhana meditators, you can start off with a correct posture and perfect spinal slignment in a sitting session, but the warping of your posture and spine can happen so subtly and gradually over time you don't even realize your slightly leaning forward or backward, or slouching, or your head is craning forward or tilting down or sideways at some weird angle. Until all of ones qi channels are open, subtle imbalances will slowly but gradually warp your posture during the sit. So if you start a sit in correct posture, and you end the sit in a wrong posture, you need to deliberately check your posture during the sit frequently enough to become aware of that and adjust.
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sunnat
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Re: Maintaining correct spine in both standing and sitting

Post by sunnat » Tue Jul 16, 2019 12:29 am

:) good points. We have diametrically opposed viewpoints heading for the same goal. Interesting. I'm not going to argue with you. Be happy.


Just one question. Can a hunchbacked person or one with a very crooked back become enlightened?

form
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Re: Maintaining correct spine in both standing and sitting

Post by form » Tue Jul 16, 2019 11:16 am

With no reference from the sutta, from the start of my meditation experience many years ago, I learned that the spine column is very important. Energy travel upwards from the lowest column upwards to the crown. It seems to me the sutta do not explain the technical details for some reasons. Maybe these are the occult knowledge the Buddha do not want to go into details.

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