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16233RE: [Meditation Society of America] Re: Back pain & zafu construction

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  • Aideen McKenna
    Jun 9, 2008

      I’m grateful for this exchange regarding arthritic pain & sitting meditation.  I have arthritis; some days or weeks I can sit in comfort on a zafu (buckwheat-filled), sometimes (often) not.  After some time of beating myself up about how I sat to meditate, I let it go, except for a small shred of guilt.  The ghost of my grandmother still tells me to “offer it up for the souls in Purgatory” – “it” being suffering of any kind.  Some of us were taught (although not in so many words), that if it isn’t downright unpleasant, it’s not worth anything.  Now every morning I sit pretty well motionless but comfortable on my couch with my outstretched legs on a hassock.  If there’s a Purgatory realm, its inhabitants are receiving the metta I’m sending, & Grandma’s benefiting.   


      From: meditationsocietyofamerica@yahoogroups.com [mailto: meditationsocietyofamerica@yahoogroups.com ] On Behalf Of Rebecca
      Sent: June 9, 2008 10:45 AM
      To: meditationsocietyofamerica@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [Meditation Society of America] Re: Back pain & zafu construction


      --- In meditationsocietyof america@yahoogro ups.com, medit8ionsociety <no_reply@.. .>

      > Yo Rebecca,
      > I'm not sure that you should even be considering
      > a zafu or stool or anything that would challenge
      > your body's arthritis.

      Hi Bob,

      I'm sorry it's taken so long to respond. I've been
      buried in my sewing room working on a quilt.

      I greatly appreciate your concern. Unfortunately,
      I know how right you are about being careful
      about challenging my arthritis. A couple of months
      ago, I started with a gomden-like seat that I had
      used in yoga many years ago. At that point it was
      fine but now it is too low and too great of a slant.
      When I sat on it, it was more painful than sitting
      on the floor so I put it aside and approached my
      physical therapist about the issue. He determine
      that it would be OK to use pillows or another tool
      as long as they came to his specified height and slant.
      This is one of several reasons why I've chosen to make
      the zafu myself. I've designed a pattern that will make
      it easy to both clean the zafu and keep it to no more or
      less than 6". This is one reason why I wanted feedback
      on the fillings. If people told me that kapok compresses
      down too quickly, for example, I'd be more likely to
      go with buckwheat hulls so I wouldn't have to continually
      stuff it to get it to the correct height.

      > seat of meditation. There is a point in life's
      > evolution where the pain-no pain duality is
      > transcended, but until then (and some say this
      > degree of dispassion may take many lifetimes),
      > I think it may be most advantageous to ignore
      > and not follow the cliche of no pain, no gain,
      > and seat your body in the easiest way for it to
      > just let your consciousness flow unburdened.

      I hope I'll reach the pain-no pain duality at some point but
      I suspect it won't be in this lifetime for me. I completely
      agree with you about the no pain, no gain adage. I've never
      thought of pain as a sign of weakness but a sign that something's
      off and needs attending.

      Thanks again for your concern.


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