1Massage Store Blog - Posts Tagged ‘Meditation for Beginners’

Meditation Cushions: Zafu and Zabuton

The zafu and zabuton provide support and comfort during meditation.

The zafu and zabuton provide support and comfort during meditation.

Why Meditation Cushions?

Feeling comfortable and supported is important to the success of your meditation practice, especially for beginners. You will be more likely to practice meditation daily if you are relaxed and your posture is well supported. If your back starts to ache or your knees hurt from resting on the hard floor, you’ll have a difficult time focusing on your inward state.

Meditation cushions can help you quiet your mind by removing the distraction of physical discomfort. Finding a comfortable sitting position for the length of your meditation is not always easy, but with the support of a zafu and zabuton, you will have the support and comfort that you need for a successful practice.

Types of Meditation Cushions

There are two basic types of meditation cushions: the zafu and the zabuton. A zafu pillow provides just the right amount of height for natural alignment of the spine in kneeling, sitting, and cross-legged positions.

The zafu cushion is available in round or half-moon shapes. Material such as buckwheat hulls or natural kapok are used for filling so that the pillow does not “settle” when you sit on it and will retain its shape over years of regular use. The firm support keeps your body and spine in alignment.

The zabuton cushion protects your knees and ankles. This large, flat pillow acts as a floor mat between the zafu and the floor—no need to worry about the floor being too cold, hard, or dirty. Most zafu and zabuton cushions include a removable cover to make it easy to keep your pillows clean.

Meditation Cushions: How the Zafu and Zabuton Aid in Meditation

The zafu and zabuton aid in proper posture and relaxation during meditation.

The zafu and zabuton aid in proper posture and relaxation during meditation.

Why use meditation cushions? Why not just sit directly on the floor or use any kind of pillow on hand to support your posture? Good question. Although meditation can be done without any special supplies, if you meditate for long periods of time, meditation cushions can greatly help in maintaining proper posture.

Posture and Meditation

Proper posture during meditation includes a straight spine and a relaxed lower abdomen for deep breathing. Meditation cushions can help you maintain this proper posture and increase the comfort and length of your meditation practice. The more comfortable you are, the longer you will be able to meditate.

Zafu Meditation Cushion

The two main types of meditation cushions are the zafu and zabuton. The zafu is a round pillow filled with a material such as buckwheat hulls that raises the buttocks in order to straighten the spine and relax the lower abdomen.

Because of the density of the filling, the person sitting on the zafu does not sink down into the pillow, as they would with a pillow stuffed with cotton batting or down feathers. The zafu offers firm support as well as cushioning. The fact that the zafu maintains its height means that it is easier to maintain your posture.

Zabuton Meditation Cushion

The zabuton is a square cushion that offers base support underneath the zafu. It offers a thicker cushion than a blanket, and like the zafu, it offers firm support as well as cushioning. In the seiza (kneeling) position, the zabuton helps cushion the knees.

The zafu and zabuton cushions can be used for a variety of poses, including the Burmese posture, the half Lotus, and the seiza position. Other types of meditation cushions are available for extra support. For example, you can place a flat, square pillow underneath the zafu for extra height, or you can place small, rectangular pillows under the knees for extra cushioning.

Feelings of pain, achiness, and discomfort can easily discourage beginners from continuing to practice meditation, but with the support that meditation cushions provide, the mind is able to focus on meditation instead of achy joints.