“Does anyone else out there struggle with a good seated position?” (“American Zen” Facebook group)

Clear Lake reeds, KonoctiDoes anyone else out there struggle with a good seated position? The position that I end up in is basically one leg on top of the other. I’ve seen this called quarter lotus, but I’m not sure. Anyway, I’m worried this will put a lot of pressure on my knees and mess everything up. Any thoughts?

If you focus on the stretch and activity set in motion by your center of balance, and how activity returns to your center to maintain balance, then hopefully the breath can move freely in the posture in which you find yourself.

Focus on the stretch and activity set in motion can be a distraction from the center of balance; having said that, the stretch most fundamental to the cross-legged posture is in the ilio-tibial bands. That gives rise to activity in the sartorious muscles, the gluteous muscles, and the tensor fascia latae muscles.

Ilio-Tibial Bands, Gluteous Muscles, Tensor Fascia Latae Muscles

Sartorious Muscles

The Secret of the Golden Flower
(From “The Secret of the Golden Flower”, a Chinese Daoist classic)

 

“Blue Cliff Record” (case 17):

A monk asked Hsiang Lin, “What is the meaning of
the Patriarch’s coming from the West?”

Hsiang Lin said, “Sitting for a long time becomes toilsome.”

(‘Blue Cliff Record’, tr. Cleary & Cleary, Shambala publications pg 110)

In a commentary on the koan, Yuanwu wrote:

If you understand this way, you are “turning to the left, turning to the right, following up behind.”

That’s the action of sartorius, gluteous, and tensor fascia latae, becoming activity in the abdominals that creates pressure in the fluid ball of the abdomen, to allow the coordination of the fine muscles of the spine and a support from the alignment of the lower spine to the lumbodorsal fascial tissue behind the spine.

Fascial support for the lower spine

4 Replies to ““Does anyone else out there struggle with a good seated position?” (“American Zen” Facebook group)”

  1. Sitting for me, is letting the focus, intent, drop into the lower Hara. it takes time, so I would suggest that one not get in a hurry, and slowly the center will become more substantial, and one will feel the shoulders, back, neck, hips, legs relax as the body settles into the lower abdomen.

  2. “It takes time, so I would suggest that one not get in a hurry, and slowly the center will become more substantial, and one will feel the shoulders, back, neck, hips, legs relax as the body settles into the lower abdomen.”

    (Robert King, comment above)

    “When the beginner starts to learn T’ai Chi Ch’uan, he should secure his mind and ch’i in the tan-t’ien. Do not forget this, but also do not coerce it… ”

    (“Cheng Tzu’s Thirteen Treatises on T’ai Chi Ch’uan”, Cheng Man Ch’ing, translation by Benjamin Pang, Jeng Lo, and Martin Inn, pg 41)

    Something I wrote last night, on the “mind” that naturally ends up with the focus of stretch and activity at the “center”:

    ‘”According to reality means knowing the fundamental mind as it really is; practice means getting rid of obstructions caused by habitual actions by means of true insight and knowledge.”

    (“Sayings of Zen Master Bunan”, tr. Thomas F. Cleary, “The Original Face: An Anthology of Rinzai Zen”, Grove Press, 1978. pp. 99-108.)

    The statement about “fundamental mind” interests me, especially when he compounds it with:

    “If you can really get to see your fundamental mind, you must treat it as though you were raising an infant.”

    That would be where the twenty or thirty years Yuanwu talks about come in, I suppose.

    Still, I cannot “find my place where I am” as mind without accepting all of my senses informing my place where I am, and the spontaneous breath in the midst of my activity is the only source beyond habitual activity I know. I feel I must nurture all three.’

    Now I would add, it seems I can nurture all three simultaneously, although it’s a lot like juggling.

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