What to choose between a meditation chair, bench, stool or cushion?
Like many truly worthwhile things in life, meditation isn’t available only to the wealthy or the well. It’s accessible to people in a wide variety of situations and contexts.The benefits one can get from meditation are not dependent on specialized equipment, club membership, or expensive training. Time, dedication, and effort are all that are required for anyone to be able to reap the benefits of meditation. And it’s a practice whose perfection takes a lifetime—you can always deepen your practice; you can always learn more.
As with the question of whether to meditate to music, which we discussed in our last post, the use of equipment in meditation is a very personal matter. Some people simply find a quiet place, sit, and they’re set. Other people may require a bit more structure, especially if they’re new to meditation and trying to establish a solid habit. Maybe you, like many of us, also require a little bit of physical support in order to sit comfortably and focus. In that case, you may wish to look into using a meditation chair or something similar, such as a meditation bench or stool, or even just a meditation cushion.
What benefits can these things offer? Well, one of the challenges many people face when beginning to meditate is learning how to relax their bodies in order to enter a proper meditative state. Obviously, there’s a difference between relaxing into a meditative state and, say, lying down and taking a nap; your body needs to remain awake, and your mind focused, when you meditate. Some people find it difficult to sit cross-legged on the floor. That’s fine—meditation doesn’t actually require you to sit a certain way.
Those who have issues with mobility or flexibility, or who are just beginning meditation, may find aids such as meditation chairs, benches, stools, and cushions help them reach an optimal state of relaxation while allowing them to stay alert. Here’s a quick run-down of just what those items are.
1. Meditation chair. Technically, this can refer to any chair you use for meditation—a kitchen chair, for example. But there are also specialized chairs for the purpose. Some are designed to be light, portable, foldaway, and supportive of floor meditation. Others are more like conventional chairs, but often with a wider seat pan. You can easily find a selection simply by searching the internet for “meditation chair.”
2. Meditation bench or meditation stool. This is the type of product sold by us at Spoko. A meditation bench or stool is designed to help you sit close to the floor, but relieves stress on the lower back and knees, and encourages a straight spine. A meditation bench/stool also has the advantage of being a unique piece of furniture—it’s not likely to be used for anything other than meditating, so it is identified with your practice. When you see it, you’ll think of meditation. The bench Spoko makes is also small, and thus easy to store. As well, from an aesthetic point of view, it has an attractive appearance, so it works well with décor in any space.
3. Meditation cushion. As with a chair, you can designate any ordinary cushion your meditation cushion. But a cushion made specifically for meditation practice—also known as a zafu—is, like a bench or stool, designed to help make a traditional floor position easier to attain. Zafus tend to be round and quite thick, so that they sit some height off the floor. They’re also quite soft and comfortable. Because they’re easy to store, they can be a good choice for people who live in smaller spaces. And, like a meditation bench or stool, they tend to be used only for meditation, and will put you in mind of your practice when you see them.
A physical aid to your practice like a meditation chair, bench/stool, or cushion doesn’t just help your body get used to a meditation posture. It’s a tangible, visible signal of your practice. It can help you carve out your meditation space—whether that means an actual space in your home, or simply a space in your mind.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: there’s no single right way to meditate. Your practice is a deeply personal thing, and the aids we’re describing here won’t be appropriate for everyone. But if you’re hesitating to begin meditation because you are worried that you can’t sit in the classic full of half lotus, consider a meditation chair, meditation bench or stool, or a meditation cushion. Because meditation is for everyone—including you!