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quarkquarkquark's avatar

How can I stop my back from hurting when I meditate?

Asked by quarkquarkquark (1690 points ) January 25th, 2011

I sit zazen in burmese posture on a zafu, put my hands in mudra on my lap, and keep my eyes open and unfocused, towards the floor. I try and do it first thing in the morning, when I have not had a chance to build up tension, but no matter when I do it my lower-to-mid back begins to hurt about ten minutes in. I am not keeping my back unnecessarily straight, nor slouching. Could the problem be the height of the zafu or where I’m sitting on it? Help!

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10 Answers

Dutchess_III's avatar

You’re trying an “athletic” move that your muscles aren’t used to. Just keep doing it, your muscles will get over it. If you don’t want to do that, just go to bed, find a comfortable position and meditate from there.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Try doing some stretching before you meditate. Right after you wake up is when your body is normally at its least flexible.

You have been in pretty much one position all night, you have to limber up the muscles before you put a lot of stress on them.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Try a different position. I like Lotus.

Megan64's avatar

It is that your cushion isn’t high enough and so it’s straining your back. Get a higher cushion or a pillow to put on top. I’ve found it works for me. Another option is to sit in a chair.

thorninmud's avatar

Depending on your stature, you may need more cushion height. Your lower back should have a slight forward tuck (in the direction of your belly). You can’t get and comfortably hold that tuck if your cushion height is too low.

Try folding a bath towel multiple times and putting this under your zafu. Then, as you’re getting settling into your posture, lean far forward (until you feel some stretch in your lower back) and come back upright as if you’re being pulled up by the front of your shirt. This motion will ensure that you start out with that lumbar tuck. The extra height should help you hold it.

Rarebear's avatar

Sit on a chair or lie down.

gondwanalon's avatar

Maybe a chiropractor can help you.

Jeruba's avatar

I’ve seen some people turn the zafu on end to raise them up higher and get a different angle between the back and the legs. You can also use small cushions for extra support or try a meditation bench if you don’t want to use a chair. The actual posture matters less than shikantaza.

acs's avatar

I know when I first wake up I have terrible tension in my lower back. Im not sure if its the old bed, or my sleeping habits but I cant usually meditate in the morning for this reason. Try stretching or yoga first.

longtresses's avatar

1) Sleeping on mattresses that are too soft or don’t support the lower lumbar well will cause lower back pain.
2) Could you be having scoliosis, the condition in which the spine is not straight but curved?
3) No matter what sitting position, if your lower back is over-arched, you’re placing the weight of the top body on the lower back. This will cause back pain.
4) If your lower back muscles are weak, lower back pain would be frequent. You could try exercises that will strengthen back muscles. This is important in a long-term.
5) You don’t have to meditate in traditional postures. You could sit in the chair, though if that gets too comfortable you might fall asleep.

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