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  1. Hi everyone, new member here. I've been redirected to this forum from the Facebook page of ST, I already knew this community and the reason why I didn't come here in the first place is because my issue has more to do with meditation than stretching. Or at least that was what I initially thought: I've read the “start here” section and know I think this could be the right place to ask for help. This may be a long post and I'm not a native English speaker, so please be patient and forgive grammar/syntax errors. Near the end of 2012 my path of self-improvement made me discover contemplative practices and by the start of 2013 I had established a daily sitting meditation practice. Being an anxious person, I immediately noticed a great improvement of life-quality and I felt such relieved that I thought I had found the Sacred Graal. I kept the habit and gradually lengthened the duration of mi sits to 30 minutes, in the meantime I was reading a lot about the topic, as well as asking question on Reddit when I happened to face challenges. I did not have a teacher, at the time, but I felt I was progressing because my mind was becoming clearer every day and my body relaxation was improving too. 1.5 years ago there was a big turning point: a Reddit user, a complete stranger, became to me something close to a teacher; his suggestions were really on spot and the practice began to truly transform me. I was practicing two times a day, every day, for 30 minutes each: one session of Vipassanā and one session of Samatha. What do I mean when I say “transformation”? Well, you have to know that since the beginning of my Path I've had troubles with posture. I sat in a chair, with my butt slightly elevated by a folded blanket and, although that was the only situation I could meditate in, I never felt really balanced and occasionally my spine would even collapse; those issues could make my practice really uncomfortable, but then again, I saw discomfort as a tool. All of that changed during one sit: I was practicing Samatha, putting all of my attention on the breath passing under the nostrils, and for some reason I was putting quite a lot of effort in the task. Suddenly the bell rang to announce the end of the practice and then something happened: I let go of all the tensions in my body and the activity of watching the breath became truly effortless for the first time. In all of the following sits I brought the same quality of mind, as a result my concentration deepened as well as my relaxation. My posture suddenly wasn't a problem anymore, my whole body was perceived as something far away: when I was watching the breath, there was only the breath. Vipassanā practice also improved a lot because of my laser-like focus combined with muscle relaxation, I was able to dismantle every sensation into tiny vibrations; it was amazing. For the first time I was deeply enjoying every session, to the point I started to sneak in micro-meditations from time to time; 10 minutes of Samatha were able to rest my body-mind a lot more than 1h of sleep. Those qualities weren't present only during formal sits: my daily life improved on so many levels. I was calmer, happier, more compassionate, my mind was clearer and negative events had less hold on me. One day I reached my peak: during a 10 minutes Samatha session I felt pure joy rushing to my chest at every inhalation, while my head was becoming lighter; I'm now prone to believe I was near the state some folks call “jhana”. The most amazing thing was the aftermath, though: I was happy, I felt my body light like 20+ years of emotional baggage were suddenly lifted from my shoulders, my voice was deeper and I could see beauty everywhere. Those sensations lasted for six hours or so, until I went to bed. I replicated the same experience during the following session, but unfortunately things then got a lot worse. I don't really know the cause, although I suspect it has to do with stress linked to some unfortunate events, the fact is is started feeling tension all over my face while meditating. Usually observing with equanimity is enough to soften every kind of tension, but that time didn't work. Those pressures made almost impossible for me to effectively focus on my breath, so I started to worried and wishing them to go away…of course the only result was they got worse. I lost my laser-like concentration, I lost my relaxation, I lost a lot of fruits of my practice. I still meditate everyday at the best of my abilities, but I feel stuck in a vicious circle. That hindrance appeared a little more than a year ago and I've been tried to figure out what happened ever since. I immediately understood the problem was somewhere in my body, so I signed for a yoga course (best decision ever) and I discovered the main issues was in my neck-jaw: I have a lot of tensions there; oddly enough, I've always somatized stress in my stomach, but for some reason the pattern has changed now. My researches made me aware of my postural problems and now I'm trying to fix them, hoping that will help with my practice. I've anterior pelvic tilt, and my head is leaning forward, I also have tight pectorals and tight scalenes (despite the weak neck flexors). Kit videos on YouTube and Vimeo have been really useful to address the tension in my body and I'm extremely thankful for them, I now stretch daily my hip flexors and my neck-jaw with great relief. That partly helps to improve my meditation sessions, but I still have way too much troubles, although not as many as one year ago. I've also started meditating on the floor (burmese style), but with erratic results despite stretching my muscle as Kit explained in a dedicated video on Vimeo. I think I'll try a kneeling position with a meditation bench. I've also come to terms with my ego by admitting I cannot consider myself more than an “amateur(ish) meditator”, so I got back to the basis: now I just do one session a day of Samatha, trying to apply the technique instructions at my best. Despite what may seem (or at least seems to me) a complete failure, I think I've learned something. During the time when my practice was smooth I used to think focus provided relaxation, but now I'm realizing it's not quite like that: relaxation is the basis to allow the development of a steady focus, that increased concentration will bring further relaxation into the body and this will allow the focus to become even stronger; moreover a tense body is linked to a busy mind, although I'm not sure what comes first. In short: I need to relax my body and I need meditation tips. I don't have someone to ask this questions anymore, so I'm "begging" help here. I've written a lot, so it's better to end here, but I can provide further information if needed. Thanks for your time.
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