arthur

How long can your sitting meditation last?

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I've never lasted more than 25 minutes on my half lotus sitting meditation because around 20 minutes mark, my legs will start to feel numb and sometimes lead to cramps. It's also because of this problem that i can't go into deep state, it's also usually around that time my mind starts to reach alpha state.

 

Any of you guys have tips on how to last longer in sitting meditation? stretching tips perhaps?

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You can just get up, have a short slow walk and then return to the cushion for another 25 min session.

 

I managed to make good progress this way myself when I used to have a seated practice.

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My sits range from 45 min to 4 hours.

 

My hips and knees carried tension and blockage for years.  All through my hard martial days it was the last place to loosen up in my body.

 

Even with regular stretching, it seemed this was the storehouse where tension would return, so it always required extra attention and was very slow to change.  Just sit in any position you can for now and keep stretching.

 

Nothing wrong with standing up and walking a bit as suggested, then return to the mat.

 

Instead of lotus, I sat cross legged, feet tucked under, or in a chair.

Eventually quarter lotus became comfortable, then not long after that half lotus was doable... though with tension and some numbness and strain at first.

 

I was willing to sit through discomfort, but never pain.

 

I now have loose hips and knees and my body prefers half lotus, even when in a chair watching a movie or reading and can remain that way indefinitely.  Occasionally I'll switch which foot is on top.

 

One day when tucking into half lotus, my body signaled it wanted to go further and I found that full lotus was comfortable, though with some tension and was able to do so for my full session, but this is not true every session... so my lotus is still blooming but functional.

 

I found this set of illustrations for stretches quite helpful with loosening up.

 

Growing a Lotus

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7 hours ago, arthur said:

I've never lasted more than 25 minutes on my half lotus sitting meditation because around 20 minutes mark, my legs will start to feel numb and sometimes lead to cramps. It's also because of this problem that i can't go into deep state, it's also usually around that time my mind starts to reach alpha state.

 

Any of you guys have tips on how to last longer in sitting meditation? stretching tips perhaps?

Sit on a cushion or meditation chair with your hips raised above your knees. My cushion raises my hips 3‚ÄĚ above the knees. But I don‚Äôt use lotus/half-lotus throughout. I just sit cross-legged.¬†
 

Another thing to try is opening your joints gently as you sit, and allow the energy to flow through. This will help you sit longer without the pins and needles. 
 

Also, there are some yogic postures you can use to open up your hips and prepare for prolonged sitting. 
 

  1. rocking the child pose 
  2. Butterfly pose 

Doing these will help open up your joints and allow for much more relaxed sitting. 

Edited by dwai

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There's absolutely no compelling reason to fret over the duration of sitting practice. 

In the system of Buddhist yoga & meditation I follow, its said that short durations of undistracted awareness repeated many times is easier to cultivate than attempts at sitting for extended periods - after 10 minutes, one's outer & inner being takes on the same state as a piece of driftwood. 

 

If anything, its more reasonable to make mind training a priority. 

As this training progresses, one will intuitively know how to sit, and for how long. 

And a lot of spiritual development hinges on trusting this intuitive knowing. 

If incapable of a certain mental confidence and poise, or if lethargic,

it will be quite impossible to harness that intuitive ability. 

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I agree with CT, and add that there may be some compelling reasons to NOT fret over the length of sitting practice. Typically, people who try to do long sits are following a more traditional paradigm. In the traditional Buddhist paradigm (Suttas and Abhdidhamma), longer meditation periods were prescribed for celibate monastics, often in a retreat setting under the supervision of a teacher. This usually involved developing deep states of concentration called jhana.

 

In the non-traditional setting, this type of practice can actually harden the mind, rendering it less sensitive. It can also result in blocking thoughts and creating an artificial "void."  It can also result in dull states that are often confused with jhana.  Really, there is no end to states that the mind can create. In some cases, people can have severe adverse reactions. Accordingly, I would not recommend this type of practice outside of a retreat and/or without a teacher available. Of course, there are other methods that do not require such practices, although the traditionalists often deny it.

 

When folks have trouble with sitting, I would wager it is one of three major issues: physical issues, energetic issues, or mind issues. Physical issues include lack of proper posture, injuries, poor health, etc. Energetic issues are more subtle. If your subtle channels are not opened somewhat, sitting can be quite difficult, especially in the legs. Finally, there are mind problems--- boredom, agitation, etc. All of these are different problems with different solutions. 

 

 

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I usually sit for 25 to 35 minutes.  From Stillness Movement practice I learned to do a slight bobbing motion, from the waist.  It's helped quite a bit with numbness problem.  Also a zafu (cushion) at the right height w/ a secondary cushioning for my knees, help for longer sits. 

 

Every 5, 10 minutes I'll check my posture.  Too often I'll slouch my lower back.  For beginners its not a bad thing to sit against a wall for support.  Though at some point you have to give it up.  I've found some breathing exercise audios that last for 30 minutes, they help me stay consistent and focused.  (see https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnGh6CcWVAv2GpiiOj3nGYQ)

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I learned the concept of "informal practice" from online workshops with Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche.¬† He tends to combine longer periods doing whatever we¬īre learning (formal practice) with many short practice periods (informal practice) throughout the day.¬† My informal practice was sometimes super short, like 30 seconds, and yet I found this frequent periodic repetition very valuable.¬† Sometimes I set an alarm on my watch and practiced a minute or so every hour.¬†¬†

 

This isn¬īt to say that longer practices are unimportant -- those were encouraged too.¬† Just that there¬īs something potent about doing lots of super short practices wherever you are throughout the day.¬†¬†

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I learned how not to sit first day of first grade. Public School 68 in 1965.

A born wiggler I couldn't sit still long enough for roll to be called. Two minutes in or so beforeI got called out and placed on a stool with a cap in the corner...

 

The cap was unfavorably known as a dunce cap then and if still in use today I wouldn't expect it increased any in popularity.

Just to the right of the stool was an open window...

It shouted Freedom! 

 

I lit out for parts unknown, like my pants were on fire...

Just about pushed my dear Mother around the bend... over that and similar antics!

Been known as a rambler ever since, not known to sit, not practiced in it.

 

But a nature lover thru and true...

 

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  You can sit on a chair or sofa and meditate as well, making sure you keep your spine erect.  It is not mandatory that you need to sit in padmasana or the lotus position. This can enable you to meditate for a longer period of time without discomfort.

 

 I have seen people sitting in chairs and meditating in meditation centers I have visited.

 

In early morning meditation,  I sit on a chair or sofa and meditate for one or two hours.

 

I love meditating on the beach due to the high prana levels, which makes meditation easier.  And I usually meditate then on the lotus position or padmasana.  At times I take a break by lying on my back on the sand. After sitting meditation for some time, I then walk around in a meditative state or mindfully and this also works very well for me. In a meditative thoughtless state it is much easier to enjoy the beach's beauty and the sunrise or sunset.  It greatly freshens and energises me up .

 

I have noticed that if I am thinking compulsively under the influence of some  emotion, I totally miss the beauty around me in the beach, and feel stale and regretful later on while going back home.

 

 

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The wonderful thing about meditation is that it's the first step toward constant awareness.  When somebody has meditated over decades and learned to still the mind upon demand, I find that they have the choice of their thoughts, their words, their actions.  Stilling the mind elevates to the point that we can actually pull ourselves up and out of the stream of human happenings, and then see them with the longer dynamics.  Clarity is achieved.

 

When enlightenment occurs, the mind no longer wanders out of control.  It is clear, it is still, it is placid.  You have tamed it.

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On 2/1/2021 at 1:34 AM, arthur said:

I've never lasted more than 25 minutes on my half lotus sitting meditation because around 20 minutes mark, my legs will start to feel numb and sometimes lead to cramps. It's also because of this problem that i can't go into deep state, it's also usually around that time my mind starts to reach alpha state.

 

Any of you guys have tips on how to last longer in sitting meditation? stretching tips perhaps?

 

As already pointed out, quality is far more beneficial than quantity when it comes to meditation.

Short periods of undistracted clarity will reveal more than longer periods of discomfort and distraction. 

Don't hesitate to reposition the body, take breaks, alternate sitting with standing and/or walking meditation, etc...

Incorporating breathing and body movement methods in a meditation routine can be helpful.

For example, there are practices of tsa lung, tummo, and trul khor used in Tibetan Bön and Buddhism that help support deeper, clearer, and longer meditation practice.

 

[Edited]

 

There are some good stretching programs if you want to be able to sit in lotus or half-lotus more comfortably.

Stretching the hip joints so that they can more fully externally rotate is the key, otherwise there is too much stress on the knees.

One very good resource is this simple book - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25711032-becoming-the-lotus

 

If you focus on good posture of body and mind, your formal meditation sessions will naturally become longer.

Expect this to take months and years to develop, be patient, and follow the guidance of an experienced teacher in the beginning if possible. 

The discoveries available through meditation do not require a teacher or system but learning a basic method that will open you and support you to making those personal discoveries can definitely be facilitated by expert guidance.

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