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Old 03-02-2015, 11:49 PM   #35
Head Coach
Join Date: Jul 2001
Sitting Practice

Sitting practice is also known as "Mindfulness Meditation". The instructor says he prefers the term Sitting Practice, saying that Meditation might bring a lot of preconceived notions from people who prefer specific types of meditation, or from people who have never meditated.

There is discussion on posture, the need to be able to sit up straight while using as little effort as necessary to be properly supported. Some of us will be sitting in chairs. There are some cushiony things there to allow a comfortable floor sitting posture. There aren't enough for everyone, with my knee hurting a lot I knew I could be comfortable in a chair so I didn't mess with those. I'll try one next week.

After spending a lot of time talking about posture and the various tools there (like 3 or 4 different types of cushions and stools and stuff that I'm not going to try to go into here, I don't remember a single name, all japanese/tibetan/etc), we practice for a couple minutes. We are told to breathe and to focus on our breath. To try to keep our focus on our breath, not to change anything about it, just to be aware.

After a couple minutes, we relax and talk about anything we felt. Most of that is about comfort and various aches and pains that quickly come from the posture we're trying here. My upper back starts to hurt fairly quickly trying to sit fully straight up without any support at all. I already know that's where I am in my posture work, which began back in November but took a back seat to a lot of other things. I've tried to maintain improvements I've made, but I can't say I've really continued to improve this year. I think. Its very hard for me to tell. Perfection isn't needed for my physical improvements in PT, but I'd kinda like to be able to slowly work towards perfection anyway with my posture.

We talk about thoughts that occur while we aim to focus on our breathing. The instructor makes a strong point (something he rarely does, usually he makes suggestions about things we might look for) that the goal is NOT to completely clear your mind of thoughts. The goal is to acknowledge your thoughts, to lightly say "oh hey, there's a thought", and to let it go and go back to your breathing. We get back into decent'ish posture and do this for another couple minutes.

One last time we relax and talk a bit. A specific suggestion is given to view the thoughts that come into your mind during this practice as clouds. Just like clouds, you can't control when they come and go, but you can notice them passing by before re-focusing on breathing. Another way to think about it I suppose. Another couple minutes of practice and we are done with this for the time being.

There is talk of how it isn't the simplest thing to find a posture that one can maintain to do this for a longer period of time, and its something we'll have to work on ourselves to find. A light ache is ok, and things will need to be strengthened (like back muscles, etc), but if something hurts to the point of distraction, then its time to look for another way to sit to find more comfort.

My reactions

Not much. I need to work on my posture. For the short periods of time we do this each time i am easily able to focus on my breathing. I do note that breathing while seated like this is uncomfortable. I make a note to ask my physical therapist about this next time I see her. I have talked to her about diaphragmatic breathing being far more difficult sitting up than lying down, and this is expected. But I note that just "standard" breathing feels a bit awkward trying to take anything but shallow breaths in this position. I've noticed this before, but its been low on the list of things to bring up. I ask a lot of questions. Some of them have answers, some don't.

Most thoughts I have during this are fleeting. There's one moment of "racing thoughts" where it seems like 5 things come at once. At the very end a couple deeply unhappy thoughts pass by. It happens.
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