Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Back to Pain

There are 2 common pain spots for practitioners of zazen: the knees and the back.  In my case my back dominates the pain register.

I sit 7 days a week.  My actual sitting time is typically 40 minutes.  By the end of that time I'm feeling some back pain but it's not too bad.  However, extend things to an hour and boy does the pain equation change.

I've talked to a lot of Zen practitioners including Zen monks and I've gotten answers that tend to vary from the macho "sucking it up" approach to maybe you should try a nice comfortable chair.

My approach has been one of exploration and a search for the Middle Way:).  Given the importance of zazen in Zen practice I have always been surprised at how little basic instruction is given to the physical posture.  It tends to get addressed briefly and then there is a quick transition to the breathing and the awareness of incessant thinking.

I have found that my thinking relaxes the more I can find an acceptable position.  It is hard to imagine extended sitting ever being pain-free but the goal of my exploration was to move the pain from a 12 on a scale of 1-10 to somewhere in the 3 to 5 range.

I have had 2 injuries that are clear contributors to my back pain problem.  In the next few blogs I'll describe my injuries and the different approaches, tips and tools I have found along the way to gain a balanced posture that supports my zazen.  If anyone has other techniques they have tried please share them.

Friendly bows, _/|\_

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