How to choose your meditation cushion?
Why do you need a meditation cushion?
According to Buddhist precepts, the correct meditation position is called the 'Seven Points Position'. Without going into too much detail, one of the Seven Points advises to "place the feet with the legs bent in the Buddha's posture". To do this, the hips should be rotated forward to prevent excessive strain on the knees and damage to the knees. This can be made easier by the use of a meditation cushion that will facilitate this rotation of the hips. Beginners in meditation will start with a meditation cushion that is high enough. With practice, the hips will soften and the height of the meditation cushion can decrease.
This way, the meditator is well installed and predisposes himself to prolonged meditation. In a sitting position, the meditator can sit in the so-called Boddhisatva posture (legs bent in front), in the Vajra or Diamond posture (legs bent and crossed on the thighs, ideal position) or with the legs bent to the side, on either side of the meditation cushion. The meditation posture is according to each person's wishes, well-being and comfort. The position should not be too demanding to avoid injury, but not too comfortable to avoid drowsiness.
Please note that during your meditation sessions, your body cools down considerably, which is why you can use meditation shawls to maintain your body temperature.
Take care to choose your meditation equipment: meditation cushion, mat, blanket, etc. and make sure you invest in quality equipment, it is for your health!
Shakyamuni Buddha's meditation cushion
- I would have liked to offer you something, but I don't own anything.
Siddhartha looked at Swasti and smiled.
- Don't be mistaken. You have something I would like to have. He pointed to the kusa grass pile. That grass you cut for your buffaloes looks soft and smells sweet. If you could give me a few handfuls of it, I'll use it as a cushion to meditate under the trees. Nothing would please me more.
Swasti's eyes glowed. He ran, took a large armful of grass from his fragile arms and offered it to Siddhartha.
- I just cut it down by the river. Please accept this gift. I'll take some more for the animals.
Siddhartha placed his hands together in the shape of a lotus, showing that he was accepting the gift.
- You're a good boy. I thank you. Go look after your buffaloes before nightfall. If you want, come back to the forest tomorrow afternoon...
(Extract from Sur les traces de Siddharta de Thich Nhat Hanh, édition Pocket)
How to choose your meditation cushion?
It is fundamental and essential to be well positioned on your meditation cushion during your meditation time, which is why there is a wide range of shapes and sizes of cushions to suit your morphology and a real well-being when you sit down.
Adapt your meditation cushion according to your size and posture. Standard or large models are available to suit your morphology and the flexibility of your hips.
A small model of meditation cushion will allow you to take it everywhere with you: in a suitcase or in a bag.
1. First choose the height of your meditation cushion
The height is decisive: A meditation cushion that's too low will cause pain. Not everyone can sit in a suit with their legs at 45 degrees to the body. Here is a small informative grid that will give you some reference data regarding the height of the meditation cushion.
2. Then choose the shape and width of your meditation cushion.
Several forms of meditation cushions exist.
The meditation cushion ZAFU
The zafu, the authentic one, is a circular meditation cushion with folds all around. Zafu is the traditional meditation cushion used in the practice of Zazen. It is distinguished by its oval shape, slightly curved seat and folds on the side. The way of sitting on a Zafu is not the same as on a round meditation cushion. The curved surface of the Zafu does not allow sitting in the centre. The correct position on a Zafu is slightly on the edge which will allow you to straighten your back, open your hips, clear your stomach in order to encourage abdominal breathing.
The meditation cushion RONDO
The RONDO is a cylindrical meditation cushion without folds.
Its height has been studied in order to allow a correct sitting during meditation sessions for people who lack hip flexibility or suffer from a knee problem.
The edges of this meditation cushion are usually rounded in order to reduce the cut-off of blood circulation under the thighs.
This form of meditation cushion will allow you to sit in its center.
The SQUARE meditation cushion
The rectangular shape, often referred to as the square or rectangular meditation cushion, provides amazing comfort.
It is a model widely used in Tibetan Buddhist centers and temples.
There is also a variation, originating from Nepal, which, when folded in the centre, doubles the height of the cushion and makes it easy to transport. These two types of meditation cushions are fairly or even very firm.
The meditation cushion half-moon, half-zafu or fuzen
The half-moon meditation cushion, fuzen, with folds at the back is called half-zafu or fuzen.
Its shape is designed so that the thighs can rest on the front and plunging sides of the meditation cushion.
The slight slope of the cushion also makes it possible to sit at different heights, which is suitable for people who are constantly improving their hip flexibility.
Another advantage of this type of meditation cushion is that it has no edges and therefore does not cut off the blood circulation of the thighs as a square cushion would do, for example.
The shape of the fuzen meditation cushion is becoming more and more popular among meditators.
The width is useful for a good wedging of your seant. If you are rather thin or "medium", choose the first widths proposed according to the height. If you need more space, the second width proposal is for you. For example, a 14 cm high meditation cushion is often available in two widths: 28 or 32 cm. So you will choose the first or second width depending on your constitution.
3. Finally, choose the firmness of your meditation cushion.
Firmness helps with good posture. It provides stability and clarity. Most zafu are lined with cotton balls or kapok or millet balls. Care must be taken to ensure a good density of the padding because the meditation cushion is not a footstool that would cause sluggishness and drowsiness.
This is why all the meditation cushions provided on the-dharma-store.com are padded to ensure a good firmness without you ending up with an accessory that is too heavy.
Our ROKPA cushions - Meditation cushions ethical and ecologic
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The social position of Nepalese women from the lowest strata of society is strongly marked by dependency and influences the lives of their children. Women are usually married very early and very often at a very young age, they already have several children who have no prospect of education.
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Currently, the women's workshop is hosting 10 women. After the completion of the "Akong Rinpoche Memorial Centre", this number will be doubled. They produce various meditation cushions from high-quality, environmentally friendly cotton, which are sold through The-Dharma-Store.com.
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The meditation bench
An alternative to the meditation cushions is the Shoggi. The Shoggi is a meditation bench that also allows you to adopt a good position during the practice of meditation and the various yoga exercises. The choice between a Zafu meditation cushion and a Shoggi is made according to each person's preferences.
For sitting meditation, the meditation bench is an excellent accessory that will allow you to achieve a perfect lumbar alignment.
The meditation mat or Zabuton
The meditation relaxation mat or Zabuton is ideal for lying down to meditate or to isolate yourself from the coldness of the ground.
Make sure that your meditation mat has a washable cover or that it is washable itself.
The yoga mat
First and foremost, a yoga mat should make you feel secure in your yoga practice. Adapting your yoga mat to the type of yoga practiced is essential for your health, to optimize your sessions and your daily evolution.
If you practice a semi-intensive or intensive yoga (Iyengar Yoga, Bikram Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga...) you must equip yourself with a yoga mat with a powerful anti-slip power. Treat yourself by choosing your colour!
If you practice soft yogas (Hatha Yoga, Natha Yoga, Yoga Nidra...), you can opt for non-slip yoga mats, thicker or made of cotton, wool,...
Make sure that your yoga mat has a washable cover or is washable itself.