Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Pain and Meditation

About 6 years ago I visited a Buddhist temple in the vicinity of Fort Walton Beach. The monks were from Thailand. They were very friendly and showed us around the temple. Then the Abbot invited to sit with them and ask questions about Buddhism.
I remember asking him the proper way to meditate. As he described the Lotus or Semi lotus position, I explained to him that my left knee and hip being damaged, I could not even think of the Lotus, and the 1/2 lotus would be extremely painful to me.
His answer was to not pay attention to the pain which would eventually go away.

I listened for a while after that, because he was interesting and friendly. But I left disappointed, knowing that I was not going to even try it.

If you start sitting at 13 or 16 as or Thich Nhat Hanh did, chances are that you can easily go past the pain of the Lotus position, because your joints and even bones are more flexible than they will be 20 years down the road. You never experienced the type of pain that occurs in a 50 years old knee damaged by 2 motorcycles and one martial art incidents.

If pain becomes so intense that it clutters the mind, sitting is useless, you are loosing your time.

Lately, I realized that I was able to sit in the Burmese position. I was surprised, as I never thought my knees would agree to this. It could be that after 2 years of sitting in Seiza my hips and knees became slightly more flexible. When I sit, there is a slight discomfort that disappears after 4 to 5 minutes. So in essence, I forget the pain. 3 years ago, I could not have done this. It is the result of 2 years of (almost) painless sitting in Seiza position.

It is just like in Tai Chi : the notion of "No Pain, No Gain" does not apply. If you hurt, your body is telling you something is wrong.

Pay attention to pain. A little pain will probably subside after a few minutes of sitting in any position. If it does not, then change positipon.

If you try at all cost to forget the pain, you won't be able to focus, and may hurt your joints beyond any possible repair. You are losing your time and damaging your body. And it is the only one you have to practice with.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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