How do you sit in meditation?
Is it comfortable or is it causing you to cut your meditations short due to aches and pains?
Maybe you’re not a yoga pretzel. You may be a few lifetimes shy of sitting in Padmasana (lotus). If you’re anything like me, even sitting in a regular cross-legged position can become torture after a few minutes.
Even if you choose to sit through the pain, you’re not relaxed. You’re a ball of firey resistance focused on your unnecessary discomfort. There’s not much space for meditation in that state.
Props are your ticket to comfort. When you get the comfort down, you create a relaxing space where your mind can settle and approach stillness.
I use the trusty halfmoon style zafu, which gives you space to pull your crossed legs in closer to your body than is possible with the round zafus. To be honest, I don’t have the flexibility to comfortably exercise this option, but my halfmoon zafu has been a godsend and an unfailingly loyal friend since starting my sitting practice seven years ago.
I’ve had the same zafu the whole time and it looks and feels pretty much the same as the day I bought it.
You can take the hulls out and wash the fabric but I’ve never found the need to do so. I’m not much a slushee drinker while I meditate, so it stays pretty clean.
The pliant buckwheat hulls compress over years of use, at which point you can refill it. I’ve only needed to do this once in the last seven years, which is pretty amazing considering the thousands of times the zafu has supported my weight.
The billions of buckwheat hulls inside produce the perfect balance of give and support. They provide a firm, form-fitting seat that you can shift around when settling into your meditation, to give you the right tilt in the pelvis and the desired amount of support under your thighs.
The zafu distributes the weight of your body, supporting not just your sit bones, but also your upper thighs, which makes a huge difference when you’re sitting for longer periods of time. Without its enduring support, I wouldn’t have been able to sit through my first ten-day meditation retreat, which means I never would have established my daily sitting routine.
You’ll need to experiment to figure out what height and sitting position works best for you. The result will be a more comfortable sitting position, which will encourage you to develop a regular meditation practice of your own.
Che Nolan is a propologist with a major in bolsterology and an Iyengar yoga practitioner with a daily meditation practice. He is also a writer and a regular Halfmoon contributor.