Choosing the right meditation cushion can be the difference between a painful or numbing sitting and Practicing with Pleasure!
A question that may also arise is whether to choose a meditation cushion, or a meditation bench instead? This guide has been developed to help you decide.
Meditation cushions come in all different shapes, sizes, colours, styles, and the sheer number of these options can make choosing the right meditation cushion or bench difficult, to say the least, especially if you are a newcomer to the meditation scene.
The purpose of this short guide is to help you make an informed decision by covering the following topics:
- - An explanation of what the ideal meditation posture is.
- - An explanation of why choosing the right meditation cushion or meditation bench is so important.
- - A look at a few ways to go about choosing the right mat, meditation cushion or bench based on your meditation style, lifestyle or body type.
- - An overview of two common types of meditation cushion filler materials and the advantages of each type.
Maintaining the Perfect Posture
Maintaining the proper posture is no less important during meditation than it is throughout your day and while you sleep. Improper posture can lead to joint or back pain, which at best can be an annoyance and at worst can be debilitating. With that in mind, you may be wondering “What exactly is the perfect meditation posture?”
To begin, the perfect posture doesn't refer to a specific pose, but rather a way of aligning your body while you’re meditating. Meditation can be done sitting, standing, lying down or even walking. Ultimately, the specific position you choose is entirely up to you; however, it’s important to maintain your body in the proper alignment while in your chosen position.
An article on the University of Florida website describes how no matter what position you choose – lying down, seated in a chair, lotus, half lotus, Burmese or Egyptian – it is most important to keep your spine straight, comfortable and steady. When in a seated position, positioning yourself with your pelvis rolled slightly forward can aid with this.
You should also note that while maintaining the proper alignment of your spinal column is highly important, you should not have to be rigid or tense in order to do so. Tensing up to maintain your posture will distract you from your meditation and can cause muscle fatigue or aches.
As important as your back is, it isn't the only part of your body that needs attention. Equally important are your hip, knee and ankle joints, all of which can become painfully uncomfortable and distracting if not positioned correctly. As a rule of thumb, avoid positioning yourself in a way that puts any excessive strain, pull or torsion on your joints.
The importance of choosing the proper Meditation Cushion
This concept of proper spinal and joint alignment is where the role of a meditation cushion, mat or bench comes in. The purpose of all these items is to help you to maintain your proper posture in a way that is both comfortable and correct, allowing you to meditate healthily and distraction free.
In today’s society, it’s uncommon for people to sit the way they do while they are meditating. Because of this, when you assume a meditative posture, you’re placing different kinds of stress on your body that it’s not used to, especially if you’re a beginner.
Choosing the right types of meditation cushion, however, will allow you to position your body as comfortable as possible while still providing your joints with the support they need. Not only do these meditation aids allow for better body health, but can also help you to stay comfortable for longer periods of time, which can offer you a more rewarding meditative experience.
Here are a few tips to help you narrow down your selection, from looking at your personal meditation style, lifestyle, body style or even picking the colour of meditation cushion that best matches the energy you’re trying to cultivate.
Choosing a meditation cushion by your personal meditation style or lifestyle
One way to help you choose the proper meditation cushion is by taking a close look at your personal meditation style. Do you prefer a more active style of meditation such as yoga or do you prefer sitting in mindful silence for relatively long periods of time?
For a more active style of meditation such as yoga, you may prefer to get a larger mat, allowing you to position yourself in a variety of poses, or asanas, while still having the required support.
On the other hand, if you plan to sit in mindful silence for relatively lengthy periods, in a cross-legged position, then consider investing in one of our standard-sized zafu meditation cushions. They come in a variety of colours and are filled with either the traditional Kapok filling or 100% buckwheat hulls.
Kapok is a cotton like fibre that although quite light, making transportation easier, it can make the zafu cushion rather firm. Many beginners find the kapok filling too firm and much prefer the now more popular buckwheat hull filled meditation cushion.
The buckwheat hulls mold to the shape of your body, providing more support and additional comfort. Buckwheat hulls are a great natural by-product and, due to their unique shape, should last for many years before requiring replacement.
Alternatively, you could opt for one of our Australian pine meditation benches.
They come with either fixed or folding legs, and the forward slope of both stools allow for the correct positioning of your hips. Also, the space underneath provides room for their feet – great for practitioners who find it difficult to sit cross-legged.
Also, feel free to mix and match to suit your preferences. Many people combine a cushioned mat to provide a comfortable surface for their feet and ankles with a zafu or bench to give a nice tilt to their hips, providing a comfortable alignment for their upper bodies.
Because of this popularity, we offer meditation sets that come with a zabuton for a comfortable supportive base for your ankles and feet, a stool to provide your pelvis with a slightly forward roll and a stool cushion for provide addition comfort while you sit.
If a stool isn’t for you, we also offer meditation sets that replace the stool with either a moon meditation cushion or zafu meditation cushion for proper hip support.
Moon cushions are a great half-way point between stools and zafus. They have similar properties to our standard meditation cushion; however, their forward slope keeps your upper body aligned correctly and the shape offers you room for your feet and additional support for your lower legs and knees.
Another way to help you narrow down your search for the right meditation cushion is by taking a look at your lifestyle. For example, are you the kind of person who likes to grab some quick meditation while sitting in your office chair? If so, we offer a large selection of meditation cushions to choose from.
Our bolsters come in a variety of colors and three sizes: small, medium or large. They’re portable, making them a great choice for adding some quick support to your standard office chair.
Another great addition to an office chair is our wedge support cushions. These high density foam cushions can provide additional padding for your buttocks, or they can be used to add some extra lower-back support for non-postural support chairs.
Choosing the right meditation cushion: Listen to your body
As mentioned above, the correct meditation posture is one that doesn’t put strain on your back or joints, is comfortable, and doesn’t force you to actively stay in it, meaning that you should have to strain to maintain it; it should feel relatively easy and natural. A Zafu meditation cushion comes in different sizes and heights, giving you flexibility to match your cushion to your body type or preference.
Other factors that you should consider when choosing the right meditation cushion is if you have any existing medical conditions or previous injuries to your joints or elsewhere. For example, some people have loose knees; their knees hyper-extend when beyond the normal range, such as when stretching out their hamstrings. Some people prefer to place some padding behind their knees for some extra support, a great spot for one of our small or medium bolsters.
Feng Shui: Choosing the Right Colors
According to “Feng Shui Color Tips” by Debra Duneier, there are five main elements of Feng Shui: water, metal, earth, fire and wood. Each of these elements, which represent universal forces and natural components, is represented by a corresponding colour. According to Duneier, use of these colours will have a different effect on your mood. Here is a list of her colours and their corresponding effects:
- Yellow represents earth and can bring though clarity and optimism.
- Red represents fire and can bring passion and excitement to your mood.
- Green represents wood and corresponds with rebirth.
- Black represents water and promotes internalization.
- White represents metal and can promote transformation.
To cultivate one or more of the above types of energies, consider adding those colours to your meditation space. Another important note by Duneier to consider if you choose to incorporate Feng Shui into your decision making process, is that you should be careful about going overboard with too much of the same colour, as too much can be counter-productive.
Meditation Cushion: Common Materials and Fill Types
A final tip for helping you choose the correct meditation cushion is by considering the filler types. Filling for meditation cushion can be any number of synthetic or organic materials, with two of the most common types being either kapok or buckwheat hulls.
With a history dating back thousands of years, buckwheat hulls has a number of uses, one primary use being as a filler material for meditation cushions and pillows. One advantage is that buckwheat hulls are prized for durability; having an ability to maintain its shape for up to 10 years.
Another advantage is its ability to maintain its shape even under pressure. This makes it comparable to or even better than foam. The nature of foam is that it is designed to return to its original shape once the pressure to it is removed. When you lie or sit down, the foam does provide cushioning; however, it still tries to return to its original shape putting additional pressure on the areas it’s supposed to be supporting.
Unlike foam, once the buckwheat hulls have been moved into position they provide the support in a manner similar to foam without the push-back effect.
Some additional benefits to buckwheat hulls as a filler include their organic nature, the low likelihood of allergic reactions (except those who have a buckwheat allergy), their resistance to insect infestation, their resistance to moisture and their inexpensive and clean production, making them and eco-friendly alternative to synthetic fillers.
Another common filler type for meditation cushions is kapok. Originating from the kapok trees in Indonesia, Thailand and the southern U.S., kapok produces a lightweight material similar to cotton.
Kapok has similar properties to buckwheat such as its resistance to moisture, its light weight, its ability to resist compression and provide years of durable use and its hypoallergenic properties. Also, for those who are interested in eco-friendly harvesting, kapok can be harvested without harming the tree.
Here at Blue Banyan have been providing our customer with quality meditation cushions for over a decade. If you have a question that wasn't answered above, feel free to comment, email or call. We’ll be happy to help you find the best meditation cushion to suit your specific needs!
We hope you found this guide useful and welcome any comments.