I just signed up for my first weeklong meditation retreat. I have a history of back pain and am a little scared of all that sitting. Is there anything I can do to prepare?

WHEN I ATTENDED my first meditation retreat, I had the exact same issue. Within two days of sitting, my lower back began to hurt. I tried to sit ramrod straight and stretch on every break, but no amount of adjustment seemed to ease what was progressing from an intermittent discomfort to a constant ache. At the meditation interview, I threw all hopes of profundity out the window and shared my back troubles with the sensei. He offered me a simple piece of advice: “Get to know this pain.”

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