That person in your office who only works at a standing desk? Seems they may be onto something.
A recently released new study suggests that “too much sitting can kill you.” That’s a riveting headline, but to the monastics at Nepal’s Sleeping Horse Monastery, just outside Mustang, it’s not exactly news. The monks at Sleeping Horse have eschewed the practice of sitting meditation for longer than anyone can recall, due to the sudden sitting death of the teacher of the monastery’s very first abbot.
“He was extremely dedicated. No one, as the legend goes, saw him not sitting,” one Sleeping Horse monk told us. Then, during retreat, “he just fell over. We monks have been forbidden to do sitting meditation ever since. I have never even tried it. The Buddha may have said that we can meditate sitting, walking, standing and lying down. But here, we’re less risky. We just do the last three.” The monk explained to us that the monastery’s name was inspired by local mustangs’ lock-kneed approach to sleeping while standing. “Of course, we don’t actually sleep,” he said.
The new study has thrust Sleeping Horse’s monastics into the media limelight as meditators, health advocates, and reporters scramble to learn and share their techniques. But there’s a hitch. The monks would be happy to travel and teach others, they say, but air travel presents a problem. “Unless they can strap us in standing up,” another monk tells us, “I’m not going anywhere.”