paresthesia in feet (painful!) after sitting zazen

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  • Douglas
    Member
    • May 2017
    • 51

    paresthesia in feet (painful!) after sitting zazen

    Hello everyone!

    What strategies can I use to help with my paresthesia while sitting zazen? It seems like no matter what position I try, I get painful paresthesia. It gets so bad that when I try to stand, I literally can't due to how painful it is.

    I suppose a chair will have to be it until I can find a way.

    Thoughts? Suggestions?

    Thank you!

    - sat today.
  • Tai Shi
    Member
    • Oct 2014
    • 3307

    #2
    i have artificial knees and I can’t sit on the floor in any position. I always sit in a chair and in chairr yoga this is called Tall Mountain poses. I am disabled and I know that the Buddha doesn’t care how I sit.
    Sat/lah
    Gassho
    Tai Shi
    Peaceful


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    Peaceful, Tai Shi. Ubasoku; calm, supportive, for positive poetry 優婆塞 台 婆

    Comment

    • Bion
      Treeleaf Unsui
      • Aug 2020
      • 3716

      #3
      Originally posted by Douglas
      Hello everyone!

      What strategies can I use to help with my paresthesia while sitting zazen? It seems like no matter what position I try, I get painful paresthesia. It gets so bad that when I try to stand, I literally can't due to how painful it is.

      I suppose a chair will have to be it until I can find a way.

      Thoughts? Suggestions?

      Thank you!

      - sat today.
      Sounds unpleasant! What postures have you tried? And what do you sit on?

      Gassho
      Sat and lah
      "Stepping back with open hands, is thoroughly comprehending life and death. Immediately you can sparkle and respond to the world." - Hongzhi

      Comment

      • Myojin
        Member
        • Feb 2023
        • 233

        #4
        Originally posted by Douglas
        Hello everyone!

        What strategies can I use to help with my paresthesia while sitting zazen? It seems like no matter what position I try, I get painful paresthesia. It gets so bad that when I try to stand, I literally can't due to how painful it is.

        I suppose a chair will have to be it until I can find a way.

        Thoughts? Suggestions?

        Thank you!

        - sat today.
        I can relate, certainly after longer sits I often have to wait a moment before I can walk properly.

        I usually use half lotus as I have a bad knee, so not doing more than your body condition allows.

        Posture: is the spine straight, where is your body weight distributed? It should (in my experience anyway) be distributed between your knees and the ‘sitting bones’ in your pelvis on either side of the anus, in a sort of triangle. Having a decent zafu, not to high or low. Actually when I used to sit with a rinzai group they used two zabuton, one of which was folded in half to sit on, I found that more comfortable than a zafu.

        Tension creeps in when the posture isn’t right, that can lead to pain, numbness, or both.

        Just my thoughts as a fellow sufferer.

        Gassho
        Sattlah

        Myojin

        Comment

        • mdonnoe
          Member
          • Feb 2024
          • 85

          #5
          Hi Douglas!

          I've had the same thing happen to me before also, and it's been much improved with a change in meditation posture as well as what I was sitting on. It seemed in my experience that it was mostly my ankles that caused this - if I sat in a way that cut off their circulation or nerves, I'd get bad pain and numbness.

          For me, I needed a nice padded zabuton beneath me, and a little extra "elevation" for my rear end with more support cushions, so my bottom was elevated higher than my knees. I also sit in "Burmese" style, rather than lotus, which eased a lot of strain on my ankles and knees.

          Do try using a chair for now if you don't have a better cushion available. If have all that I mentioned that usually works (better cushions, better posture), you may consider speaking with a certified massage therapist (they know the muscles / bones very well, and may have suggestions), a yoga teacher (who can give a very "hands-on" posture assistance), or your doctor for physical therapy in your legs / ankles.

          I hope this helps!!

          Gassho,
          Michael

          Sat/Lah

          Comment

          • Daiman
            Treeleaf Unsui
            • Apr 2022
            • 668

            #6
            Originally posted by Douglas
            Hello everyone!

            What strategies can I use to help with my paresthesia while sitting zazen? It seems like no matter what position I try, I get painful paresthesia. It gets so bad that when I try to stand, I literally can't due to how painful it is.

            I suppose a chair will have to be it until I can find a way.

            Thoughts? Suggestions?

            Thank you!

            - sat today.
            Originally posted by Douglas
            Hello everyone!

            What strategies can I use to help with my paresthesia while sitting zazen? It seems like no matter what position I try, I get painful paresthesia. It gets so bad that when I try to stand, I literally can't due to how painful it is.

            I suppose a chair will have to be it until I can find a way.

            Thoughts? Suggestions?

            Thank you!

            - sat today.
            Hi Douglas,

            Usually, and I do not want to say this is always the case, but it happens when sitting on a cushion that is too far up on the thighs (this cuts off circulation). For me, I usually put the zafu just under the sit bones and about only a couple of inches below where the gluteus maximus meets the back of the upper thigh. Also, the back of the zafu should be slightly angled up toward the spine not flat on the floor. It also helps to sit on a thick mat and not directly on the floor. The thickness of the cushion and height of the cushion also matter. It takes time to "find your seat." We kind of have to play with it a bit and through trial and error, we eventually find what works. If you are sitting in a chair, you want a straight back chair so that you can put a sturdy pillow or zafu behind your lower back so that your legs are parallel with the floor. We always want the hips higher than the knees. But, in the end we have to listen to what our bodies need. Not pushing past what our bodies require at the time. We honor how we arrive each and every time we sit zazen. That being said, no matter how much we are paying attention to how we set up our posture, there are times that the legs still fall asleep, but hopefully not that intense and very workable with the swaying from side to side and back and forth we do before standing up.

            Please take what I say with just a pinch of salt. Jundo, or a senior Unsui may come along and offer something beyond what I have to offer as a priest in training.

            Gassho,
            Daiman
            St/LAH

            Comment

            • mnstucky
              Member
              • May 2023
              • 12

              #7
              I have this same problem. Appreciate the ideas from everyone!
              Gassho, Matt Sat/Lah
              Gassho, Matt / SatLah

              Comment

              • Jundo
                Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                • Apr 2006
                • 39211

                #8
                All good advice above.

                I have been told that this is not actually "cutting circulation," which is a misnomer, but almost almost pressure on the sciatic nerve (if whole leg tingling) or from sitting with your leg weight pressing down on the ankle because you have your ankle tucked under your leg (a no no.) This is one reason that the Burmese posture is nice, as there is no leg resting on top of an ankle (nor should there be in the Half or Full Lotus, but those tend to put a lot of tension on the ankles too).


                Make sure that you are sitting on the front half of the Zafu, spine slightly in front of the middle axis of the Zafu, but that the Zafu is not pressing into the legs.

                One trick I learned in long sesshin is to slightly shift my weight to sitting on only one 'butt cheek' (the technical, medical term: gluteus maximus ), taking pressure off the other leg for a few minutes until the feeling returns. Then, when feeling returns, I return to normal sitting, but maybe keeping the pressure light on the bad leg.

                Experiment with your own body, see what works for you.

                Yes, you could switch to seiza bench, etc., but if you like a Zafu and Lotus or Burmese, than try all of the above and see what works.

                Gassho, Jundo

                stlah
                ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                Comment

                • Daiman
                  Treeleaf Unsui
                  • Apr 2022
                  • 668

                  #9
                  Originally posted by Jundo
                  All good advice above.

                  I have been told that this is not actually "cutting circulation," which is a misnomer, but almost almost pressure on the sciatic nerve (if whole leg tingling) or from sitting with your leg weight pressing down on the ankle because you have your ankle tucked under your leg (a no no.) This is one reason that the Burmese posture is nice, as there is no leg resting on top of an ankle (nor should there be in the Half or Full Lotus, but those tend to put a lot of tension on the ankles too).

                  [ATTACH=CONFIG]9371[/ATTACH]

                  Make sure that you are sitting on the front half of the Zafu, spine slightly in front of the middle axis of the Zafu, but that the Zafu is not pressing into the legs.

                  One trick I learned in long sesshin is to slightly shift my weight to sitting on only one 'butt cheek' (the technical, medical term: gluteus maximus ), taking pressure off the other leg for a few minutes until the feeling returns. Then, when feeling returns, I return to normal sitting, but maybe keeping the pressure light on the bad leg.

                  Experiment with your own body, see what works for you.

                  Yes, you could switch to seiza bench, etc., but if you like a Zafu and Lotus or Burmese, than try all of the above and see what works.

                  Gassho, Jundo

                  stlah
                  Yes. Perhaps "cutting circulation" is not the best phrase to use here since it can be misconstrued (kind of like "morning sickness" is a misnomer since that phenomena can happen at any time of day). It is as you say, Jundo...more about putting pressure on the nerve. Paresthesia is most often a temporary condition by disrupting blood flow to the nerves in a particular area of the body by extended and prolonged pressure, that can disrupt the usual signals to the brain. Kind of what happens when we sleep on our hand or arm at night. The body is well equipped to right itself, so no real cause of concern. The trick that Jundo speaks of here of shifting from one sit bone to another during long sits has been a method I have used many times in zazen. I approach this as recognizing what has arrived here in this moment and then responding rather than reacting... not trying to change anything, but rather meet each moment as it arrives and responding to each moment as it is, which may require a temporary shifting of posture. In my practice of zazen it usually is very subtle and not something I fight with, kind of like if my spoon in my bowl shifted to the other side while eating, I just go and put it on the appropriate side to continue eating.

                  I hope what I offer is helpful. Again, please take this with a grain of salt from this newly minted priest in training.

                  Gassho,
                  Daiman
                  St/LAH
                  Last edited by Daiman; 04-12-2024, 02:31 AM.

                  Comment

                  • Jundo
                    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                    • Apr 2006
                    • 39211

                    #10
                    I approach this as recognizing what has arrived here in this moment and then responding rather than reacting... not trying to change anything, but rather meet each moment as it arrives and responding to each moment as it is, which may require a temporary shifting of posture. In my practice of zazen it usually is very subtle and not something I fight with, kind of like if my spoon in my bowl shifted to the other side while eating, I just go and put it on the appropriate side to continue eating.
                    You present an important theme, Dai ...

                    Our practice of Zazen is an interesting, balanced mix of (1) accepting all conditions, including discomfort during Zazen, but (2) without overly fixating mentally on outcome, fixing what we can from time to time, while (3) accepting fully what cannot be fixed.

                    So, a little "adjustment" lightly, without mental complaining, from time to time (i.e., not some mental obsession where we 'fidget' ever 5 seconds) is fine.

                    It is, in fact, a good philosophy for dealing with annoying things through all of life.

                    Lovely.

                    Gassho, Jundo

                    stlah
                    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                    Comment

                    • Tai Shi
                      Member
                      • Oct 2014
                      • 3307

                      #11
                      Yes, some annoying little thing makes me raise my head then sit back again. Then i itch. I do this. I breathe through the annoyance.
                      Gassho
                      st/ lah


                      Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
                      Peaceful, Tai Shi. Ubasoku; calm, supportive, for positive poetry 優婆塞 台 婆

                      Comment

                      • Shonin Risa Bear
                        Member
                        • Apr 2019
                        • 921

                        #12
                        Floating, sinking or sunk, we are all leaves in the same river.

                        gassho
                        ds "sat" and maybe some lah, hard to tell sometimes.
                        Visiting priest: use salt

                        Comment

                        • Tai Do
                          Member
                          • Jan 2019
                          • 1357

                          #13
                          Originally posted by Jundo
                          This is one reason that the Burmese posture is nice, as there is no leg resting on top of an ankle (nor should there be in the Half or Full Lotus, but those tend to put a lot of tension on the ankles too).
                          It has been two years since I have this constant pain in the right ankle and never was able to figure out the cause (always assumed to have something to do with my shoes). I didn't thought that my constant daily Half Lotus zazen with the right foot above the left tight might be causing it. I just tried Burmese today instead and the pain was gone — thank you, Roshi!
                          Gassho,
                          Tai Do
                          Satlah
                          怠努 (Tai Do) - Lazy Effort
                          (also known as Mateus )

                          禅戒一如 (Zen Kai Ichi Nyo) - Zazen and the Precepts are One!

                          Comment

                          • Jundo
                            Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                            • Apr 2006
                            • 39211

                            #14
                            Originally posted by Tai Do
                            It has been two years since I have this constant pain in the right ankle and never was able to figure out the cause (always assumed to have something to do with my shoes). I didn't thought that my constant daily Half Lotus zazen with the right foot above the left tight might be causing it. I just tried Burmese today instead and the pain was gone — thank you, Roshi!
                            Gassho,
                            Tai Do
                            Satlah
                            Man goes to the doctor, says, "Doctor, I have a pain in my right ankle when I do this."

                            Doctor says, "Don't do that."

                            🔥 GET 68% OFF ON BEST VPN ➨ https://bit.ly/3jBVCE3 🔥♦♦ba dum tsss


                            Gassho, J

                            stlah
                            ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                            Comment

                            • Douglas
                              Member
                              • May 2017
                              • 51

                              #15
                              Originally posted by Bion
                              Sounds unpleasant! What postures have you tried? And what do you sit on?

                              Gassho
                              Sat and lah
                              Apologies for the late response.

                              I think my problem is I have a zafu, but no zabuton. I've tried most postures

                              -Sat Today

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