How to Choose a Meditation Cushion
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How to Choose A Meditation Cushion (or Meditation Bench): The Key Question
Choosing a Meditation Cushion or Meditation Bench is simple. The first thing to know about the posture of meditation is that the best meditation posture allows you to sit upright, relax and breathe freely. The Meditation Cushion choices for beginning meditation are actually simple. It all comes down to a question of height and flexibility. First of all height. No, not your height, that won't matter as much as your flexibility. What matters is the height of the meditation seat you choose.
The key question: what, for you, is the right distance between your bottom and the floor? The Goal: you are high enough off the meditation mat so your thighs angle downward from your hips. When they do, your back can be straight without straining. So that's the key question you need to answer: how high?
Cross Legged Yoga Meditation Pose: The Zafu
If you enjoy yoga, and are OK sitting on the floor (your hips and knees are fine with it) then the Zafu from Zen should work well for you. Our Zafus will provide between 4" and 6" of height under you. At this height, for your thighs to angle downward from your hips, your knees will need to rest close to or on the meditation mat. Some like the Crescent Zafu, as it encourages this incline. There are stuffing options for the Zafu, both natural. Kapok fiber is firm and resilient, but will soften over time. Buckwheat Hulls are firm, but pliable (a bit like sitting on sand). You can shift Buckwheat within the cushion, adapting to your needs.
Our tallest Zafu is stuffed Kapok fiber. Over time, with use (that's key!) this Zafu should settle to about 6". The Buckwheat Zafu called the Pillbox is our tallest buckwheat filled Zafu, sitting about 6" high. Our lowest Zafu is the traditional pleated Buckwheat Zafu with 4" of height. Add a cotton meditation support pillow (shown here under the Zafu) to fine tune the height under you. These extra meditation pillows are available in our Zafu Zabuton Sets.
Simple Cross-Legged Meditation Posture: The Gomden
So, we know you are going to sit in a cross-legged posture, but you prefer to sit with your legs loosely crossed in front of you, with your knees below your hips but not down, but up off of the meditation mat. When your knees are down on the mat, that puts some stress on those joints and this is something you would like to avoid.
Our (very own) Gomden is a rectangular meditation cushion (a firm foam block in a beautiful fabric cover) that facilitates this especially comfortable knees up posture. The Gomden cushion sits 6" high and won't collapse when you sit on it like your typical couch pillow (or potato!) The firm Gomden is available with a cotton support cushion (shown here on top in a Gomden Set) which gives you the option of even more height and comfort in your meditation posture.
Cross Legged Meditation Pose with More Height: The Low Cloud Bench
A simple cross legged pose is what you want, but you need to sit a bit higher than a meditation cushion (in order for your knees to rest comfortably below the hips). The Low Cloud Meditation Bench provides that extra height and stability for a comfortable cross-legged meditation posture. With its 2" cushion, the Low Cloud Bench is over 2" higher than the Gomden providing that extra height and stability for your meditation posture.
The Low Cloud Bench sits 6.5" high (with a slight incline). The 2" cushion available with the bench brings the height to just over 8" between your bottom and the floor or meditation mat (Zabuton). Note: The Cloud Bench cushion comes in a variety of heights, so you can really customize the height, if you need to. The design of the Low Cloud allows for a heel to be brought in a bit underneath the bench, making for a balanced meditation posture.
More Grounded than Chair Meditation: The Cloud Bench
If for now you have resigned yourself to chair meditation, the Cloud Bench may be the answer for you. The Cloud Bench is like a meditation chair, just lower. This allows you to sit in a cross-legged posture that is more grounded than meditation in a chair, but high enough off the Zabuton so that your thighs can angle downward from the hips.
The Cloud Meditation Bench sits 10.5" high. With the 2" Cloud Bench Cushion this means you are over 12" off of the floor. For big and tall people, or others with flexibility issues in the knees or hips, this makes for a comfortable meditation seat. Easy to sit down. Easy to get back up. Note: the legs are removable, making a retreat friendly, transportable meditation bench.
Kneeling Meditation Posture: The Seiza Bench
And now to the question of flexibility. There are a lot of studies on the benefits of a kneeling posture. Some of the weight of your body is shifted from your back and vertibrae to your legs and knees. Also, a kneeling posture elongates muscles around the hips, rather than compressing them. If you are more comfortable and familiar with a kneeling posture, then you should consider a Seiza Bench from the Zen tradition.
Our Seiza bench is a simple but sturdy design borrowed from Japan. The Seiza kneeling meditation bench is 8" high at the back and 6.5" at the front. We also make the Seiza Bench Plus , for someone who is comfortable kneeling, but wants a tall Seiza. Seiza Bench Sets include a Seiza Cushion as well as the 2.5" Cotton Zabuton Mat to cushion the knees. The Curved Leg Seiza Bench (shown here) allows for an adjustable kneeling meditation posture. We also make a portable travel friendly Seiza Bench (our version of the folding Seiza.)
A Meditation Cushion for the Knees and Ankles: The Zabuton Mat
And please, do consider a Zabuton. This is the Meditation Mat that goes on the floor under the meditation cushions and meditation benches described above. Depending on how you sit, it will cushion your knees, ankles or both. Note: you can save when you buy your Zabuton Mat in our specially priced Meditation Cushion or Meditation Bench Sets ( Gomden , Zafu , Seiza Bench or Cloud Bench ).
As we've mentioned, it may help to have a support cushion to allow your to tinker with the height of your meditation seat. Our cotton Meditation Support Cushions are available separately, but also available as an option in one of the meditation sets mentioned above. All of our cushions are available in a range of Eco-friendly fabrics. Just select the swatches with the ECO icons. There is an additional charge for ECO fabrics when you order a meditation cushion set.
We said this was simple. It is, really! Remember, the key question is: how high do you need to be for your knees to rest comfortably below your thighs? Are you comfortable with your knees down on the mat (shown here)? Or more comfortable when your legs are loosely crossed in front? Once you answer these questions, you will be in a position to know which meditation cushion to choose for a comfortable cross-legged meditation posture.
If you are going to sit cross-legged, but know you need more height, one of the Cloud Benches may work for you.
If you know you will be better off in a kneeling meditation posture, then you have the option of the Seiza Bench from the Zen Tradition.
We did our best here to explain the posture of meditation and your options. Still not sure? Call us (M-F, 800-331-7751) to talk to someone who has sat on all the cushions and benches we (make and) sell. Or if you prefer, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with CUSHION QUESTION in the Subject line. Thank you for visiting our site. (And don't miss our Holiday Sales--Savings up to 25% while supplies last.)
Since 1976, Samadhi Cushions has been genuinely interested in helping people choose the right meditation cushion or bench for a comfortable meditation posture. We make all of our cushions in our Vermont location to the highest standards of quality. Our Meditation Benches as well are made by professional furniture makers living and working in here in the Northeast Kingdom.