Meditation Pillows - Zafu Cushions, Zabuton Mats, Gomden (the rectangular one), a wedge cushion, yoga cushions, custom meditation cushions, the Buckwheat Hull Zafu. We make them all here in our Vermont workshop. ECO, twill and designer fabrics.

Meditation Balance: Mind and Body

Meditation should be easy. After all, most techniques ask you balance meditation in two simple ways—by sitting still and paying attention. We all do those things to one degree or another in our daily lives. In theory, meditation shouldn’t be a big deal. But, of course, when we actually try sitting meditation, we discover two things: our minds wander and our bodies ache.

If we want to make meditation a regular part of our life, we will need to tame our busy minds and strengthen our bodies. In meditation texts, there is a great deal said about how to develop mindfulness and awareness. But not as much is said about working with the body. We are encouraged to take a balanced seat on our meditation cushion, returning to an upright posture when we find ourselves slouching. We are told our muscles will strengthen over time as we practice. And yoga and tai chi might help us limber up.

A Gomden Meditation Cushion Set with Pillow in Red is selected

Author Erika Berland has a lot more to say about the physical experience of sitting meditation. In her book Sitting: the Physical Art of Meditation, she provides us with an in-depth look at the interaction between meditation and the body. Her thinking combines meditative awareness with what she calls the somatic approach. Berland's view is that health in mind and body can be fostered through emphasis on internal physical perception and experience.

"Awareness is the key word that refers to the immediacy of experiencing the synchronization of mind and body. It is awareness that comprehends the intrinsic nonduality of body and mind. In somatic training, it is awareness that infiltrates scientific anatomical and physiological principles and then transforms that knowledge into a powerful tool for healing and discovering the body's innate wisdom and well-being."

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In Berland's approach, it is the breath that creates the vital pathway to relating to our bodies and our lives:

"Focusing on the breath is one of the most potent ways to receive feedback from all the tissues of the body: the more we consciously breathe into the bod's tissues, the more feeling and awareness we have of those tissues and their 'mind.' As we breathe out, our breath dissolves into the atmosphere and we are brought into relationship with the natural world. In this way, through the breath our inner and outer worlds are joined and the seeming boundary between those worlds is softened."

While a discussion of the meditation balance between the body and mind could be a technical exercise, Berland describes each bodily system in layman's language. She provides simple, straight-forward exercises, giving us the means to find our own way in the practice of body-mind meditation.

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Berland, a pioneer in somatic movement education, encourages us to make friends with gravity. Arranging our hips, spine, and shoulders with the support of our internal organs, we achieve balance in our meditation sitting posture. We can cultivate a balanced nervous system by attending to our bodily sensations and the surrounding environment. Berland also believes we can support our meditation by bringing awareness to the endocrine system. (This system circulates the hormones regulating our internal organs.) Berland encourages visualization and imagery to connect with internal bodily systems.

Interested in Berland’s book? Pick up a copy here, or explore one of our meditation starter kits.