Saturday, July 23, 2011

Take Your Seat

Sitting still for a while is no real problem: it just takes a bit of will power. Sitting still for a while every day is another matter. It's amazing how the body reacts if it is held in the same position for 20 or so minutes, and this is repeated day after day. Small irregularities in posture make themselves known in aches and pains which seem to be only arbitrarily related to the body parts which are causing the problem. Slump a little far forward, or hold your neck awry or place your hands too far forward or too far back on your knees and little pains appear in your back or neck or chest or...

Some people try to overcome the problems caused by stillness in a very Western way: add more padding. So, a nicely comfortable chair or even a bed is used, and if problems arise, a few more cushions are added. This solution doesn't work: it encourages sleep, it discourages attention, and besides, even the most luxurious of cushions will develop pressure spots sooner or later.

Using a straight backed chair can work, and for a long time this was my solution but I never managed to find a chair which worked very well in the long term, and I tried all sorts: kitchen chairs, various types of office chairs, backless stools, you name it. Invariably, over times, small niggling pressure points showed themselves.

The classical meditation postures have evolved because of this. Either sitting cross legged or kneeling on a low stool seem to be the most effective ways of maintaining a comfortable position for a long time on a regular basis. The cross legged "Lotus Position" might be best, but for middle aged Westerners such as myself it is not really an option unless you are on very good terms with a chiropractor; so a small kneeling stool it is then.

It's easy enough to make your own stool, as this website, and this and this show you. The process of thinking through a stool design and making it and then altering/ refining it, is actually quite helpful. Like nothing else it forces you to think about your body and the shape it assumes when kneeling, and where the weights are, and what your posture is. My experience is that a bit of trial and error will allow you to come up with something suitable.

Of course you can always buy a stool. Amazon.Com sells a large number of models. My regular stool is one I bought in Australia. It is manufactured by Black Dragon, and it is a very well developed, very solidly made, very comfortable little piece of kit. It took me a week or two for my older than I would care to admit legs to get used to kneeling, but now I can quite comfortably use the stool for well over an hour. It comes with a little travel bag but I have a different stool for when I am traveling. When on the move, I use a small, light, folding one legged stool of my own devising, and for which I will post photographs and manufacturing instructions at a later date.

No comments:

Post a Comment