How To Choose a Meditation Cushion Part 1

What’s the best cushion for meditation?

customer-reviews-North-MeditationThe best cushion is the one you actually use.

You can use a chair. Just get started. You’ll figure out what you need as you go along. But if you’re going to sit with a group, or go on a formal retreat, or do more extensive practice, you’ll want to get something professionally designed and crafted.

Whatever you do, don’t buy a cheap cushion! Not only are they usually stuffed with the wrong materials, but they are often imported from regions of the world where children and slave labour is used (India, for example). We have some articles about this in our Compassionate Consumer series in our online magazine.

Whose cushions are the best?

EVERY company will tell you their meditation cushions are the best. It’s hard to know who to trust. The latest new tweaks to Google’s search engines have made it even more confusing.

We would prefer our customers to tell you what they think! We’ve got an endless page of customer testimonials, all unsolicited.

How to choose a meditation cushion?

OUR FOUNDER started designing cushions years ago after starting her own practice. She found the cushions at the local zen centre to be uncomfortable. They were deceptively tall, all fluffy and puffy, but once you sat down on them, they would squash down and be practically useless. But since it was zen, we didn’t complain. We eventually decided that we’d have to make our own.

how to choose a meditation cushion by North
How to Choose a Meditation Cushion

Every time we went to sesshin (extensive zen retreats of up to 10 hrs of sitting a day), we’d come back with more ideas and try more designs.

Eventually we came up with the two designs we offer now – our Zen-style™ zafu, and our Tibetan-style™ zafu. Both are round cushion shaped, which we’ve found (from a lot of experience) is the optimal shape.

Which styles of cushions are there?

We’ve tried crescent cushions, cosmic or v-shaped cushions, halfmoon cushions, double height cushions, very low cushions, wedges (foam, and wooden), blow-up footballs, yoga blocks, folded-over pillows, rocks – you name it. I guess you’d say we left no rock un-turned in our quest for the best.

3 important meditation tips

The round cushions are the most popular and commonly used cushions for good reason, but most people starting out don’t know how to use them correctly!

  1. Sit on it properly (sitting on the front 2/3rds of the cushion)
  2. Position your feet comfortably in front in a cross-legged position (no need for cut-outs or odd shapes) – if you sit in a kneeling position, make sure your knees and ankles are in alignment
  3. Grow tall from your hips – You tend to sit naturally more upright because your lower body becomes part of the support, and you will naturally emphasize the curve in the low back

That’s important, because if your knees are sitting way up in the air, your inner thigh muscles are not supported, you are not very stable (try asking someone to push you over), and your muscles will be working at holding yourself in your posture rather than settling deep into your meditation practice.

Zen vs Tibetan style zafu by North MeditationWhat filling is best?

We’ve tried every filling you can think of as well – buckwheat hulls (this is what we strongly recommend over any other filling), kapok (that’s what the zen centre insisted on), cotton (truly awful for a filling as it gives zero support, but lots of companies sell them for US $29 or less), foam, and various other unmentionable things we stuffed inside.

We strongly recommend you ONLY buy a zafu with buckwheat hulls. Nothing else will allow you to settle into the cushion but provide firm stable support. It’s the only filling we use in our cushions.

We’re experienced long-term meditation and yoga practitioners and teachers

blog-11We’ve been practicing and teaching meditation and yoga for a long time (even longer if you believe what some people have told us), and we have plenty of experience with how to sit and how to modify your setup.

It’s not that difficult, but it does start with letting us know more about you, how you like to sit, whether you are flexible, etc. Just a few questions will help us get to know you and serve you better. Head over to our help page to get in touch with us.

We’ll add more to this article series in the near future. Let us know if it helped!

The cushion is so nice. My husband love it! [zen-style zafu in chocolate for a birthday gift]  Thank you so much Susan! Take care! Sincerely, M.A., rural Alberta

Other articles in this series:

How to Choose a Meditation Cushion Part 2

© North Meditation Inc – Canada’s Meditation and Mindfulness Outfitters