Is meditation painful? I teach yoga classes and meet people at various conferences and festivals and below is an account of what I hear – people not getting the support for their body that they need.
When I first started meditating, I found that I couldn’t sit for much longer than a half an hour before experiencing unbearable pain in my knees and lower back. Even though I followed my teacher‘s posture instructions to a tee–I kept my head, neck, shoulders, spine and hips stacked in a single line–I still found physical pain to be an obstacle to successful meditation.
I soon discovered that the problem wasn’t with my posture, but with my cushion. I had been using old throw pillows around the house, but the problem was that they weren’t firm enough– my hip bones would sink down into the cushion, causing my pelvis and hips to dip below the level of my knees. As it turns out, this is a good recipe for pain in meditation.
As soon as I switched from old pillows to a quality zafu – cushion I was finally able to stop spending my meditation sessions fretting over agonizing leg pain. I found I was able to meditate for longer periods of time and reach much deeper stages of concentration and peace.
It is essential that you need to prepare your body for meditation. Practitioners should keep their hips elevated above their knees when sitting in meditation, and nothing helps with this as much as a good zafu – cushions like those available from Catspaw Cushions.
Let us help you pause.
People have been looking to the skies for centuries, where is the moon is (above photo is full moon rising in September), how much light is during the days, when the best time to plant and harvest is. It is the 225th anniversary of the Farmer’s Almanac. All with the need to being in sync with the earth’s natural rhythm and is seems so natural and normal. Yet “Finding Our Rhythm” is a struggle that many of us find ourselves in – like we are playing tug-o-war ourselves.
We all struggle with the timing. When is the best to time to eat, practice yoga, meditate, sleep – timing is everything, so the saying goes and as the bible verse from and goes that later became a song from The Bryds
A Time for Everything
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh…
Part of finding our rhythm is noticing. The secret is really about listening to your body and heart. When we ask ourselves when the best time to do something – the answer always has to be when we will do it, whether it is a walk, a yoga class or meditation.
Pause and find your rhythm.
Use a meditation cushion to support back. Using a cushion can help open and transform your hips. The most common body aliment I hear in a any yoga class that I teach, is that “I did something to my back” or “I have chronic low back pain”
If you sit on the floor in sukhasana or simple cross legged position and your knees are above your hips there is move pull on the low back.
If you sit on a traditional cushion you get a little higher off the ground and your knees may be able to drop down. (that is not always the case some hips and knees take awhile to open and shift to a move level position)
If you are setting up a little higher with the assistance of a meditation cushion filled with buckwheat hulls, the hulls give support while conforming to your body and you may be able to take the pressure off your low back. Remember everybody is different and it it important to choose the cushion to supports and fit your body.
Preparing your body with a few simple yoga poses then coming to, let’s say to a Catspaw Cushion 😉 can help with taking the pressure off your low back. A trick to use for added height, you can set the cushion on it’s side.
For more anatomy check out the Daily Bandha .
Whether you arebe setting on the floor folding laundry or during your meditation or yoga practice, using a meditation cushion for your meditation, yoga or around your home will give you options of how to support your body.
Pause…to find the support you need.
As we continue exploring being clear or getting clarity this song seems to speak to our day challenges. Part of being clear is knowing what and where the obstacles are.
At Catspaw we believe in the power of yoga and meditation to help get the “dark clouds” out of the way so we can see clearly. I would also encourage you to revisit this song and maybe play it when you come to your yoga mat or cushion. Just reading the lyrics will give you pause to move toward clearness even if it is just for a moment.
The theme for January, Start Where You Are, our guest writer – Lucie Brossard, writes about Preparation.
Life doesn’t just unfold out of the blue, and neither does any creative undertaking. If we want to produce beautiful results, whether it is in life or art, we must be vigilant in our willingness to lay the ground, to spend time and effort getting ourselves good and ready.
Graham Wallas, the nineteenth-century-born social psychologist, named “Preparation” the first of creativity’s four stages.(The Art of Thought 1926) In Wallas’s view, preparation is part research, part planning, and part entering the right frame of mind. Preparation does not mean waiting for all conditions to be perfectly conceived in order to reach a prescribed outcome; it simply means taking the necessary steps in any situation to ready ourselves for something perfectly marvelous to occur.
Being a mother, art therapist, and creator of food, art, and gardens, I have lots of experience with the creative process. I can make a delicious meal in a pinch from a few ingredients in the fridge, or transform a pile of decades-old unfinished art work into a polished product. I have planned parties for tens of people, and transformed a front yard of dead grass into a dryland garden. Some of my projects are big, others small and mundane. But as Wallas knew, when I devote more time to planning, versus jumping in haphazardly, things are more aesthetically pleasing, and certainly more satisfying.
Preparation comes in many forms, ranging from visioning to brainstorming, gathering information to organizing thoughts. Contemplation and meditation are passive (or receptive) forms of preparation that help us to bring a different quality of attention to our day-to-day activities. These types of preparation happen at the level of thought, and sometimes even in the midst of other things. In other instances, we prepare at the level of action. When getting ready to embark on something new, I might read several books on a topic, gather inspiring images into a folder, record the sound of my own voice when rehearsing for a job interview, or write my intentions and goals on paper.
Ultimately, there is a lot for which we cannot brace ourselves in life. Even so, being vigilant in our preparations will allow us to meet our days without hesitation or inhibition so that we can seize opportunities and produce beautiful—if not perfect–results!
Guest writer and artist Lucie Brossard she can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org