Pins and Needles

Collapse
X
 
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts
  • jcboysha
    Member
    • Feb 2015
    • 9

    Pins and Needles

    I've noticed as I've started sitting longer (after each of the Zazen lessons for beginners I find I sit more to let things sink in) I've been having a problem with pins and needles in my legs when I get up. I was sitting half-lotus, but then as I noticed this happening I tried switching to burmese, and I've tried supported seiza with a zafu. None of it seems to help, my legs always seem to fall asleep. It's not causing a problem with sitting, but definitely afterwards... The other day I stood up and fell right back over!

    Does anyone have any advice?

    Gassho.

    JC Sat Today
  • Jundo
    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
    • Apr 2006
    • 39074

    #2
    Hi JC,

    We all have experienced this! First, (I think you have been) I would review all of Taigu's advice on posture in our "Beginner's" series ...



    ... and this book on posture during Zazen, highly recommended ...

    Hi, I would like to recommend a book about, and entitled, "THE POSTURE OF MEDITATION" (by Will Johnson). http://www.amazon.com/Posture-Meditation-Will-Johnson/dp/1570622329/ref=pd_sim_b_1 I believe that its philosophy of finding a sitting posture is very much as we encourage here at Treeleaf, namely, we each have


    Usually, legs which tingle or "fall asleep" are due putting some pressure on the sciatic nerve ...

    My friend, Rev. Nonin Chowaney (Nebraska Zen Center) writes this ...


    There are many ways to sit zazen: full-lotus, half-lotus, quarter-lotus (with foot on calf), burmese (with both feet on the floor), seiza (Japanese kneeling posture) with the zafu on it's side, seiza on two zafus (one on top of the others), seiza on a bench, and sitting in a chair (this is frequently necessary for those who have injured themselves or with joint replacements). Also, some people with severe physical problems or illness sit zazen lying down.

    I recommend to all beginners that they sit as close to full lotus posture as they can for as long as they can. I also suggest that they sit somewhere between wimp and macho. Sit until it becomes uncomfortable, and then sit a few minutes more before you change postures. If you change too soon, you won't stretch out. On the other hand, don't tough it out for so long that you do yourself damage.

    Also, learn the difference between soft tissue or muscle pain and nerve pain. Everyone's legs fall asleep from time to time. Sometimes bending forward will take the pressure off the sciatic nerve and the legs will wake up. If your legs are asleep at the end of a sitting and they come back quickly as you stretch them out and get up, I wouldn't worry about it. If they don't and the numbness persists for some time, don't sit the way you have been. You can damage nerves. If you damage 1/8" of a nerve, it can take months to heal.

    Anytime you hold the body in a specific position, it will hurt. Just try holding your arm out parallel to the floor for any length of time. Sitting zazen for any length of time will hurt most people, although some can without pain. I have never been very limber, and I sat seiza for three years when I first started while I did exercises and stretched out. Then, I was able to sit burmese style. Eventually I was able to sit quarter-lotus and then half-lotus. I've never been able to sit full-lotus, and as I've aged, I've gone back to quarter lotus. Also, I have a knee problem, and when it flared up severely a couple of years ago, I spent six months sitting in a chair.
    When my legs begin to "fall asleep", I lightly shift my weight on the Zafu to the left or right (or front or back) as needed to slightly take my weight off the top of my thigh. That seems to work. Also, if sitting in Full or Half Lotus, I will "gassho" and untangle my legs (usually into Burmese) about a minute or two before I need to stand up. The feeling is usually back by that time.

    If not, I usually do what I call the "butt shift" , gently putting my weight slightly more on one butt cheek or the other, while lightening the load on the other, or subtly shifting slightly back or forth. It tends to take the pressure of the nerve. If you really need too, you might also try untangling the legs a bit about a minute before the bell will ring.

    Also, is you underwear too tight, your pants pinching your upper thigh or circulation? (This is one reason that we wear loose fitting trousers in Zazen ... and avoid Jeans and such).

    Here is another helpful thread on the subject ...

    Hi all, I don't mind the discomforts of sleeping limbs, but lately, especially in sesshin or after longer sits (45 to 60 minutes), I have trouble doing kinhin - at least the first few steps, when there's no feeling in my leg and I simply fall over, which is really not very practical :rolleyes:. Can anyone point me in the


    I might just add that our Zazen is often practice in microcosm for experiencing our whole life. Our lives are sometimes pain, including physical pain. Zazen recognizes that fact. We have to embrace that fact.

    So, nothing wrong with trying to make the pain or other unpleasantness go away. We move our legs, shift our posture, do whatever we can. Still, we accept it is there, whether it goes away or not (acceptance without acceptance). No running from the pain, even as we try to walk away from it. If it really will not go away no matter what we do, that is just our life. We just sit with it.

    We also learn that, in all cases, there is a great degree of "mind over matter" to pain. Our minds magnify the pain, focus on it. Our minds can also do the opposite. It may not make the pain go away, but mind and body are one.

    Remember, pain is not suffering without more ...

    All that being said, we also do not do Zazen to the point that there is a real risk of damage to the body. If you overdo with the pain, nerve damage and the like is possible. Even if you need to stand up in the middle of Zazen and do Zazen that way, as walking meditation, no problem. But, to be with a reasonable bit of pain now and then is part of Practice.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-10-2017, 05:44 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    Comment

    • Mp

      #3
      Originally posted by Jundo
      When my legs begin to "fall asleep", I lightly shift my weight on the Zafu to the left or right (or front or back) as needed to slightly take my weight off the top of my thigh. That seems to work. Also, if sitting in Full or Half Lotus, I will "gassho" and untangle my legs (usually into Burmese) about a minute or two before I need to stand up. The feeling is usually back by that time.
      Hello JC and thanks for your question ... I do the same thing Jundo does (posted above). I find when I feel that tingling I move side to side in the same way when you start sitting - to find that balance again and to take a bit of weight off those nerves. Over time you will see you can sit longer before that tingling feeling starts ... then of course repeat the process that works for you. =)

      Gassho
      Shingen

      SatToday

      Comment

      • Kokuu
        Treeleaf Priest
        • Nov 2012
        • 6737

        #4
        Hi JC

        I have had this too, sometimes to the extent when I couldn't stand up when sitting ended like you! This was after sitting for an hour, though, and breaking it up with kinhin helped.

        Like Jundo and Shingen, I also shift when the tingling starts. A bit of discomfort is fine to sit through but good to avoid not being able to walk!

        Also, do you always sit with the same leg over the other? I was advised quite a while back to alternate sittings with different legs on top to help balance the body and that has helped me with pain.

        Gassho
        Kokuu
        #sattoday

        Comment

        • Jamie
          Member
          • Mar 2013
          • 49

          #5
          Hi JC
          I had one of my legs fall asleep during my practice for years, I sit Burmese and don't alternate my legs that much but it was always the front leg that fell asleep, usually after about 20 minutes. If I was sitting in a group, every one else would stand up after the bell and I would roll around on the floor for a couple of minutes with useless , numb legs. Someone suggested that I may be occluding the blood supply to my legs, or as Jundo said putting pressure on the sciatic nerve. Over the past couple of years I have practiced putting as little of my bottom on the zafu as I can get away with. Just enough to support the spine, less than a quarter of my bottom on the zafu. I have found I can sit like this without tingling legs for up to 45 minutes and in the old vipassana days an hour. It seems to relieve the pressure on mybottom and back of my legs, maybe letting the blood flow more freely. I dunno, it may lean more towards wimp than macho but I have had pins and needles and I haven't had them and I like not having them more.
          Gassho
          Jamie
          sat today

          Comment

          • jcboysha
            Member
            • Feb 2015
            • 9

            #6
            Jundo, Shingen, Jaime, and Kokuu:

            Thank you for all of your advice! I am about to go do my morning sitting; I will let you all know how it helps!

            Gassho.

            Comment

            • Rich
              Member
              • Apr 2009
              • 2587

              #7
              Ditto as Jamie said. Also took a long time to figure out the right height for my pillow stack.

              Sat today
              _/_
              Rich
              MUHYO
              無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

              https://instagram.com/notmovingmind

              Comment

              • Jishin
                Member
                • Oct 2012
                • 4819

                #8
                Every few days I figure out the exact sitting posture only to lose it a few days later.

                Gassho, Jishin, _/st\_

                Comment

                • orangedice
                  Member
                  • Oct 2014
                  • 62

                  #9
                  Originally posted by Jamie
                  Hi JC
                  I had one of my legs fall asleep during my practice for years, I sit Burmese and don't alternate my legs that much but it was always the front leg that fell asleep, usually after about 20 minutes. If I was sitting in a group, every one else would stand up after the bell and I would roll around on the floor for a couple of minutes with useless , numb legs. Someone suggested that I may be occluding the blood supply to my legs, or as Jundo said putting pressure on the sciatic nerve. Over the past couple of years I have practiced putting as little of my bottom on the zafu as I can get away with. Just enough to support the spine, less than a quarter of my bottom on the zafu. I have found I can sit like this without tingling legs for up to 45 minutes and in the old vipassana days an hour. It seems to relieve the pressure on mybottom and back of my legs, maybe letting the blood flow more freely. I dunno, it may lean more towards wimp than macho but I have had pins and needles and I haven't had them and I like not having them more.
                  Gassho
                  Jamie
                  sat today
                  I sit Burmese as well and it's always the front leg! I'll have to try sitting off the pillow more. Thank you.

                  - June
                  #SatToday

                  Comment

                  Working...