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.
A meditation cushion, otherwise known as a zafu, can be helpful for correcting posture as well as being useful during normal yoga sessions. The translation of zafu is a cushion for sitting. Za means sitting or “sit” and Fu means cushion. These cushions provide much needed support during yoga. They also beneficial in strengthening your core, reinforcing your posture, giving yourself a boost, fortifying your resolve, and renewing you chi.
When sitting in a simple cross-legged position you want your knees level with your hips or below. When you knees a above your hips your lower will probably talk to you and it will be harder to stay in that position for period of time even if it is 5 minutes. Using a cushion lets you tip a little forward taking the presser off your low back and allowing your knees to drop. If they don’t drop you may use a number of hip opening yoga poses to assist you and it does take time.
Simply saying a zafu or meditation supports your unique body. Some people will need a higher cushion and some will need lower. If you would like to sit in meditation or just sit on the floor to play with your kids or grandkids – you need support. Why use a meditation cushion? The simple answer is to provide support.
Catspaw Cushions uses traditional buckwheat hulls to fill the cushions so that the meditation cushion supports and contours to your body. You can find out more about our custom-made zafu cushions by visiting our store.
Some of the illustrations are copyrighted feel free to share and please credit: Catspaw Cushions – Matt Holman © 2016 / firstname.lastname@example.org and Ian Beck-Cross
One important aspect of yoga is to prepare your body to come to meditation. Meditation may not sound very important or very useful, there is so much science to support the benefits of meditation, that gives us a reason to come to your cushion – hopefully a Catspaw Cushion 😉 on a regular basis.
One way that meditation can benefit you is through your emotions. Meditation can lessen worry, anxiety, impulsivity, stress, fear, loneliness, and depression. It can also increase optimism, relaxation, and awareness. It can also help prevent things as well such as emotional eating and smoking. You may be more relaxed.
Another way that meditation can help you is by benefiting your mind. Meditating can help to increase mental strength, focus, memory retention, and recall. After you start meditating you will notice you may be better at decision making, problem solving or better able to handle monkey mind.
Meditation can also help your body to be more healthy. With the thought of slowing down and letting go of stress your wellbeing improves.
Taking the time to pause can be hard for the us in the western world, I hear this a lot, I don’t have time for this, but as the cartoon says do you have time to be sick or dead?
We need to decide what we do have time for and what tools we have to make us successful in adding or continuing our meditation and yoga practice.
painting by @dmwrightstudio Nectar – Inspired by a meditative practice, this painting is an abstract expression of the feminine – moon and masculine – sun energies that feed the fire of transformation. The center circle represents the transformation of the body into healing nectar
As a lamp in a windless place does not waver, so the yogi, whose mind is focused, remains always steady in meditation on the transcendent self – Bhagavad Gita 6.19
What’s your cue? You have made the decision that something needs to change. You may be walking around all day with an achy back, or you know you just don’t move enough, or you eat mindlessly. What is the cue that will keep you on track?
There are plenty of books to give you a step-by-step guide about how to _____(fill in the blank.)
I recently read a book by Charles Duhigg, a Pulitzer prize-winning reporter at the New York Times. In The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, Duhigg helps us understand the “cue – routine – reward” loop we all get into, and how changing one thing in that cycle can change everything.
The reward of a more flexible, less painful back through yoga seems obvious. But once we can move without pain, we forget the habit that caused the pain to stop. We stop showing up on the yoga mat because we’ve forgotten the pain, and also the habit that keeps it in check. So the question is, what can we put in place to draw us to the routine, extend the reward, and continue on our path? The answer is, have several cues, so if we forget we can start where we are.
What’s your cue?
How about a chime, or a note? Or put your yoga mat and meditation zafu in a very
prominent place, where you can’t miss it. Here’s another one: When you interact with your dog, watch, and it will do down-dog almost every time it gets up to greet you!
That is a great cue to start your own practice, wherever you are.