Barnaby

sitting practice

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I'd appreciate the benefit of your experience...

 

I've worked with a teacher who maintains that sitting cross-legged is no better than sitting in a chair.

 

But increasingly, I come across other people who say the opposite.

 

In your opinion, how important is cross-legged sitting (and developing the physical capacity to maintain it comfortably) for meditative and/or energy practice?

 

Many thanks in advance :)  

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It depends of course on what practice you are doing - but generally speaking cross legged, half or full lotus is better both for stability and aligning the channels.  But as I injured my knee doing Aikido years ago I have sat in a chair and I think that it is perfectly satisfactory if you have a good posture.  

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1 hour ago, Barnaby said:

I'd appreciate the benefit of your experience...

 

I've worked with a teacher who maintains that sitting cross-legged is no better than sitting in a chair.

 

But increasingly, I come across other people who say the opposite.

 

In your opinion, how important is cross-legged sitting (and developing the physical capacity to maintain it comfortably) for meditative and/or energy practice?

 

Many thanks in advance :)  

From what my teachers said, cross legged is better than sitting in chair. But chair is still a good option if you can’t sit cross legged. It’s not bad, just not as good as sitting cross legged.

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I agree with Apech.

 

Most debating this, appear to forget or overlook context. Teachers advising X is preferred over Y are doing so based on the context of a given cultivation method. If you are not practicing that method, then their advise about the use of posture becomes either less or entirely irrelevant.

 

The main thing when learnign a tradition or specific method from a teacher, is follow their advice and trust that it suits and supports the practice of THAT method. There will always be others doing other things while practicing other methods.

 

Criticism of sitting in a chair, is like a football (soccer) player complaining a basketball player used his hands.

 

That said, there are a variety of reasons to learn to sit in full lotus, as well as a variety of approaches of doing so.

 

Some advise it because of the physical stability the posture brings from a culture that sat on the floor. This physical stability enables a deeper practice developing stability of mind and other states.

 

Some advise it as a method to shut off the leg channels, this enables an easier and quicker concentration of energy at the base of the torso, as well as building energetic pressure to stimulate energy centers and channels.

 

Some say that in "proper" full lotus the leg channels are not shut off and the channels are fully open and flowing.

 

This last view, does not in fact undermine the use of the posture to shut off the channels. They are simply different usages, of the same posture at different stages by different levels of practitioner.

 

Things are not so black and white; posture X = 'one thing only'

 

I've had teachers advocate it, or working towards it. While others have felt it was a "show off" posture for the flexible. It is certanly true that the vast majority of those I have met that can comfortably adopt the full lotus posture have no eneregtic or spiritual development whatsoever.

 

Best,

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4 hours ago, Barnaby said:

I'd appreciate the benefit of your experience...

 

I've worked with a teacher who maintains that sitting cross-legged is no better than sitting in a chair.

 

But increasingly, I come across other people who say the opposite.

 

In your opinion, how important is cross-legged sitting (and developing the physical capacity to maintain it comfortably) for meditative and/or energy practice?

 

Many thanks in advance :)  

 

For me, sitting cross legged on the ground with a small cushion is the most supportive posture. I find it to be more stable and allows for deeper settling and opening for longer periods of time with less distraction and dispersal of attention and energy as compared to sitting in a chair. The most supportive and comfortable posture for me is Burmese. My knees and hips do not allow full or half lotus for long periods of time.

 

I think there is enough benefit to sitting on the floor/ground that it is worth some time and practice to try and cultivate one of the standard postures - full lotus, half lotus, Burmese,… If your body does not cooperate, then let it go and know that you can achieve your goals sitting on a chair or bench. It’s simply a matter of finding the right seat, height, and posture so that minimal energy and attention are required to maintain a stable yet relaxed, upright posture.

 

Sitting cross legged on the ground was recommended by both my Bön and Daoist teachers. They also felt that sitting on a chair, stool, or bench is a reasonable alternative if necessary based on our physical conditions. It is important, however, to sit properly in a chair. It is best to not lean against the back. The spine should be upright and balanced over the seat, the hips should not be overly flexed nor extended. The feet can be flat on the ground or crossed at the ankles. When you find a stable and supportive posture, you will feel it.

 

 

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8 minutes ago, steve said:

It is important, however, to sit properly in a chair.

 

Thanks Steve, that's all really useful.

 

Posturally speaking, I think I've become pretty good at sitting on a chair.

 

What I'm wondering is whether I should try to up my game as far as sitting cross-legged is concerned.

 

I don't have any particular medical contraindications. It's just that cross-legged has never been my most comfortable position: too much desk work, and not super flexible to begin with!

 

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15 minutes ago, Barnaby said:

 

Thanks Steve, that's all really useful.

 

Posturally speaking, I think I've become pretty good at sitting on a chair.

 

What I'm wondering is whether I should try to up my game as far as sitting cross-legged is concerned.

 

I don't have any particular medical contraindications. It's just that cross-legged has never been my most comfortable position: too much desk work, and not super flexible to begin with!

 

When I started off with qigong and neigong I couldn’t sit cross legged comfortably for a long time. My legs would always get pins and needles or go numb after a while, but after months of daily practice I do it no problem now for extended periods of time. I can also half lotus too in the last month or so, but not as long. Try it slowly, don’t rush.

 

As for half lotus and full lotus, what my teachers have said is the purpose of them are to send energy upwards into the upper body. Half lotus will send more than sitting cross legged, and full lotus will send the most. But like others have said you don’t have to use full lotus for everything, some practices don’t need it at all. In my case the seated qigong practices I do all require half lotus, but I started off doing them cross legged until it was possible for me. 
 

At the end of the day what matters is if it’s needed for that particular practice or not. But learning how to sit cross legged and eventually half or full lotus is good just so you are able to do it if needed. However know your limits and go slow.

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7 minutes ago, Pak_Satrio said:

When I started off with qigong and neigong I couldn’t sit cross legged comfortably for a long time. My legs would always get pins and needles or go numb after a while, but after months of daily practice I do it no problem now for extended periods of time. I can also half lotus too in the last month or so, but not as long. Try it slowly, don’t rush.

 

As for half lotus and full lotus, what my teachers have said is the purpose of them are to send energy upwards into the upper body. Half lotus will send more than sitting cross legged, and full lotus will send the most. But like others have said you don’t have to use full lotus for everything, some practices don’t need it at all. In my case the seated qigong practices I do all require half lotus, but I started off doing them cross legged until it was possible for me. 
 

At the end of the day what matters is if it’s needed for that particular practice or not. But learning how to sit cross legged and eventually half or full lotus is good just so you are able to do it if needed. However know your limits and go slow.

 

That's really useful.

 

Thanks a million :)

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7 hours ago, Barnaby said:

I'd appreciate the benefit of your experience...

 

I've worked with a teacher who maintains that sitting cross-legged is no better than sitting in a chair.

 

But increasingly, I come across other people who say the opposite.

 

In your opinion, how important is cross-legged sitting (and developing the physical capacity to maintain it comfortably) for meditative and/or energy practice?

 

Many thanks in advance :)  


From my point of view, objectively, people said all these postures work in their practice. Why do they work for all to accomplish the purpose of Qigong ? There must be a common denominator that no one have ever mentioned here. Have you ever asked why you are sitting in the half or full lotus position on the floor or a chair or whatever but still works? To meditate is like having a dream or just concentrate on the sitting postures or to concentrate on the breathing? Which one of that you think it will help to accomplish the purpose of Qigong?

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5 hours ago, 寒月 Hanyue said:

The main thing when learnign a tradition or specific method from a teacher, is follow their advice and trust that it suits and supports the practice of THAT method.

 

I get it.

 

But I'm no longer learning with that teacher, hence my uncertainty ;)

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1 hour ago, ChiDragon said:

To meditate is like having a dream or just concentrate on the sitting postures or to concentrate on the breathing?

 

Right now, my meditation practice is mainly based around observing the breath.

 

If I'm sitting cross-legged, at some point discomfort is going to start interfering with my concentration.

 

Which could be an argument to sit on a chair instead...

 

Or it could be an argument to sit cross-legged and learn to de-identify with the discomfort...

 

That is the question :)

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17 minutes ago, Barnaby said:

 

Right now, my meditation practice is mainly based around observing the breath.


Bull's eyes, that is what make Qigong work for you. Your energy built up was from your breathing.
It is not necessary to have a teacher to learn Qigong. Perhaps, a teacher could tell you how to breathe more properly. Like "sink chi to the dantien(氣沈丹田)." That is the ultimate goal of breathing in Qigong. It is to breathe deeply as possibly as one can but slowly and softly. If you continue to practice on your breathing, then your breath will go down deeper and deeper. Eventually, your breath will reach deep down to the dantien. Indeed, you have accomplished the highest realm of Qigong. 

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40 minutes ago, Barnaby said:

 

Right now, my meditation practice is mainly based around observing the breath.

 

If I'm sitting cross-legged, at some point discomfort is going to start interfering with my concentration.

 

Which could be an argument to sit on a chair instead...

 

Or it could be an argument to sit cross-legged and learn to de-identify with the discomfort...

 

That is the question :)


The answer is do whatever makes your comfortable. It is secondary, but breathing is primary.

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I have been working on my flexibility, but I still cannot get into lotus position.

 

Has anyone followed any programs online for getting into lotus that have worked for them?

 

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6 hours ago, Barnaby said:

 

Thanks Steve, that's all really useful.

 

Posturally speaking, I think I've become pretty good at sitting on a chair.

 

What I'm wondering is whether I should try to up my game as far as sitting cross-legged is concerned.

 

I don't have any particular medical contraindications. It's just that cross-legged has never been my most comfortable position: too much desk work, and not super flexible to begin with!

 

I would suggest you try and see what happens. Take your time. Increase time gradually. Get up and move around or stand whenever you need.

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I’d say work to sit cross legged - unless it’s causing/irritating an injury, or you’re really not able to do it.

 

Generally, for most practices, there won’t be a major improvement with sitting cross legged.

 

Most of the alchemical methods I’ve learned require it eventually though.

 

So it’s good to train yourself into the posture over time.

 

For me it’s now the most comfortable way to hold my body in space - as much as laying down. For about 8yrs it was incredibly uncomfortable… and all my seated work was a torture as a result - until something shifted pretty much overnight.

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21 hours ago, EFreethought said:

I have been working on my flexibility, but I still cannot get into lotus position.

 

Has anyone followed any programs online for getting into lotus that have worked for them?

 

Since you want to go further with Flying Phoenix, ask Sifu Terry for help. He knows some good tips. 

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Gentle stretching and breathing, morning and evening is my process.  Took a while to open up and loosen my ankles and hips but it worked well to open slowly and gently.  No injuries or strain.

 

Flowers open tzujan, of themselves, without effort or strain.

This was my approach with the body when developing the ability to sit lotus.

 

These stretches are wonderful.

 

growing a lotus

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Let's see what GB says:

 

Quote

"There is the case where a monk — having gone to the wilderness, to the shade of a tree, or to an empty building — sits down folding his legs crosswise, holding his body erect and setting mindfulness to the fore. Always mindful, he breathes in; mindful he breathes out."

 

- Kayagata-sati sutta

 

That said, I've seen plenty of teachers say sitting in a chair is totally acceptable too, especially if you plan to sit for three hour periods and practice jhana.

 

Some schools don't emphasise jhana as much, and there they tend to practice full lotus.

 

In some schools of zen for instance, they sit for 25 minutes, then stand up to do walking meditation, followed by another 25 minute sit. Because of the short sits, full lotus is more feasible.

 

I can't imagine sitting for three hours in full lotus. That would not only probably destroy your knees, but make it difficult to enter absorption.

 

So I guess, it depends on what you're practicing.

 

Edited by Vajra Fist
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1 hour ago, forestofemptiness said:

Maybe it is just me but this link is bringing up this topic. 

 

Yep, me too...

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1 hour ago, Vajra Fist said:

Some schools don't emphasise jhana as much, and there they tend to practice full lotus.

 

Basic cross-legged would do me fine right now, let alone full lotus :lol:

 

1 hour ago, Vajra Fist said:

So I guess, it depends on what you're practicing.

 

Well, longer sits are definitely part of the equation.

 

But even sitting on a chair, I find that around the two-hour mark pain/discomfort always becomes an issue. Not the postural back pain I had at the beginning, just the sheer pressure of the body on the sit bones. My longer sits do tend to involve the observation of pain at some point... ;) 

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On 11/24/2022 at 4:24 AM, Barnaby said:

I've worked with a teacher who maintains that sitting cross-legged is no better than sitting in a chair.

 

But increasingly, I come across other people who say the opposite.


Let me reiterate. The above says all. It makes no difference how one sits. It work every way which ever one prefer.  The main thing is breathing. Nobody seems to understand the significance of breathing in martial arts(武功), qigong(氣功), neigong(內功), neidan(內丹). Besides, I believe some had pay a large sum of money and still don't realize it. Everyone is still going around circles talking all the methods without mention breathing. After all this years of learning the arts, I think someone should become wise to know that.

Sorry, folks, that I have to point this out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

v

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22 hours ago, Vajra Fist said:

especially if you plan to sit for three hour periods and practice jhana.


Curiously in my experience it’s the teachers who emphasise Jhanna would insist on sitting cross legged.

 

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