The Best Meditation Cushions
There are many ways to sit when doing meditation. Some people do it in chairs or on specially crafted meditation benches, but sitting on the floor seems to be the most popular choice. You might think it economical to try sitting on just a blanket, a pillow or sofa cushion or even a yoga mat–if your body can take it. However, ordinary household cushions lack the firmness and support needed for comfortable sitting. Investing in a good meditation cushion is a wise choice, not only for maximizing your comfort while sitting but also for preventing injury, according to Carmina Johnstar on articlesnatch.com, and for deepening your meditation practice.
Finding a good cushion can be daunting for the first-time shopper. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and are made from many different materials, which influence how easy they are to use, their durability and how you're going to feel while sitting on them for extended periods of time. Besides choosing the style that fits your needs, pay attention to the quality of workmanship and what is used for both the outside cover and stuffing materials. Unless you have a store nearby that stocks yoga and meditation supplies, the Internet is the best place for shopping around and finding the cushion that you need.
Zafu cushions' ergonomic design allows you to sit comfortably with proper posture, enabling better spine alignment while stabilizing your back. Although they provide no back support, when used correctly they let the spine assume its natural curvature, which makes for comfortable sitting and minimizes discomfort in the knees and ankles.
Zafus come in two types. The traditional zafu is round, commonly stuffed with buckwheat or millet hulls, kapok or cotton. All of these materials are comfortable to sit on for extended periods of time and long-lasting, but buckwheat is the most popular due to its ability to both support and conform to your body shape and sitting position. The other type is the crescent- or kidney-shaped zafu cushion, which is preferred by meditators who sit in the cross-legged or lotus positions.
Additionally, zafus are small and light-weight, so they're portable and easy to store when not in use. They can be used in combination with zabutons–they're often sold together as a set–or with any other flat cushion. If the floor you're sitting on is padded or soft enough on your knees and ankles, they can be used by themselves as well.
Zabutons are square or rectangular, flat cushions that are used as a base for zafus or other supportive cushions. Generally, they're thin enough to provide only minimal cushioning, but they work well for reducing stress on the knees and ankles when kneeling and for providing extra padding when sitting cross-legged or in the lotus positions.
They're made usually from the same materials as zafus, although the cotton ones are preferred when used as support cushions. Because they're thin, the hull varieties tend not to be as firm as those filled with cotton or foam. Zabutons make not only great support cushions, but can also double as soft, portable cushions for any other occasion when you might need to sit on a hard floor.
Gomdens are relatively new on the market but are gaining in popularity among meditation enthusiasts. They look really simple, but provide a totally different experience than other more traditional cushions. Although they're available in the same materials that zafus and zabutons are made of, the foam varieties are a hit.
Averaging six inches in height, these rectangular cushions resemble mini platforms but provide ample cushioning on their own. They're bulkier than their more portable counterparts but hold their own as being one-and-all cushions. For anyone who prefers going with a single cushion for cross-legged positions, or for more elevation when kneeling, gomdens just might be what you're looking for.
- bed with lots of pillows image by Gina Smith from Fotolia.com