Meditation requires the spine to be held erect. Most meditations are performed in a seated position and require a comfortable seat to keep the body steady. If the body feels discomfort or pain, it can easily distract the mind and disturb the practice. Special meditation seats are a great aid to comfortably support the body.
Meditation seats come as cushions like gomdens, zafus, zabutons or as stools with or without padding. Cushions are great for those whose sit cross-legged. The zabutons serve as a cushioned mat and support the ankles and feet from hurting while zafus and gomdens placed under the buttocks support the entire body. For some types of meditation which are done in the Thunderbolt Yoga pose (Vajarasana) with bent knees and the buttocks sitting on the feet, meditation stools are are great choice – they take the body-weight off the feet. Meditation stools with a cushion offer even more comfort in this posture. Meditation stools may also be used with zafus or gomdens. In fact there is no set way to use these meditation cushions. Each person may use them in a way that relaxes the body and keeps it still and supported throughout the meditation.
The meditation seats cost between $40-$200 to buy depending on the materials used, the filling, the size and shape, etc. Many meditation cushions are easy to make at home – you can choose the color combination and the filler materials you like and size them to suit your body contour. Besides it costs much less to make one at home. In this article, let us look at ways to make our own meditation cushions – zafu-style cushions, stool with cushion.
Zafu-style meditation cushions:
You need the following materials and tools:
1. Strip of cotton/Silk cloth about 5′ long, 6″-8″ wide (depending on the desired cushion-height).
2. Two large pieces of the cloth with enough area to provide circular pieces with 10″-14″ diameters (depending on the desired size).
4. Filling for the cushion – buckwheat hulls/kapok/cotton.
5. Compass to mark circles.
6. Chalk to mark on the cloth.
7. Sewing needle and thread or sewing machine.
Mark circles of desired diameter (10″-14″) with chalk on each of the large pieces of cloth and cut them out. Leaving 4″ of cloth at both ends (to stitch to a zipper to form a ring), pleat the long strip of cloth – let each pleat have about 3″ width. Use an iron to press the pleats and make running-stitches with hand across the strip to hold the pleats. You may optionally use a sewing machine to stitch it. Stitch a zipper to join the ends of the strip. This strip forms the pleated sides of your zafu. Stitch one circular piece to one edge of this strip so that it now looks like a bowl with a circular base and pleated sides. Stitch the other circular piece to the other edge. (Turn the cushion cover inside-out to stitch the hard-to-reach edges). Now you have have zafu shell. Stuff in the filling through the open zipper for the your desired level of comfort. And zip it up.
Your zafu is ready for meditation! It takes only 2-4 hours to make. It costs only about $15-$20 and most supplies can be bought at Wal-Mart or Michaels. The buckwheat filling can be bought for $3.00/lb. and kapok for $4.00/lb. both from www.zafudesigns.com.
Meditation cushions with stool:
1. Long strip of wood to sit on – 1’6″ long, 6″ wide, 3/4″ thick.
2. 2 small strips of wood for the legs – thickness 3/4″ with one side of length 5.5″ and two sides at right angles to this with lengths 6″ and 5″. (The 4th side is slanting.)
3. Filling for the cushion – buckwheat hulls/kapok/cotton/sponge.
4. Strip of cotton/silk cloth with dimension 1’10″x8″.
5. Stapler to staple the cloth on to the wood.
6. 2 4X4/door hinges and screws.
Connect the small strips of wood to the two ends (sparing 1″ of length at each end) of the long wooden strip with the hinges and screws. The slanting edge of the small strips should be the base on which the stool should rest. Place the cloth on top of the stool so that excess cloth hangs uniformly on all sides of the stool. Staple the cloth to the wood on three sides. Stuff with the filling to obtain the desired firmness. Staple the fourth and final side.
Your stool is ready for meditation! It is compact and can be folded at the hinges to store. It takes only 1-6 hours to make depending on whether you have to cut the wooden strips. It costs only $20-$30 for the materials. The wood and hardware can be purchased form Home Depot or Lowes. The cloth can be purchased at Wal-Mart or Michaels.