Meditation is a wonderful addition to your daily spiritual practice partially because, when it comes down to it, you don't need to spend a single dollar to get started. All you really need to do is sit down in a comfortable and balanced posture and begin! You can meditate on an image, a flickering candle flame, music, silence, a mantra or prayer, or anything in between. There are literally thousands of different methods and styles of meditation, ranging from very simple to extremely complicated, but in the end, the one similar element to all of them is the training and calming of the mind with some form of relaxed focus.
Just as one can meditate in many different styles and on many different focuses, so can the pose that one takes in meditation vary widely from practice to practice. One can meditate while lying down, while walking, while sitting on the train or the bus, or really in any pose at all. However, if you have decided to follow certain ancient meditation methods from different schools, then certain postures may be mandated.
As an example, if one is practicing the traditional Zen form of meditation known as Zazen, or simply, "seated contemplation", one needs to sit in a way in which the spine and torso are held as straight as possible to ensure proper energy flow. These poses traditionally include full or half-lotus and seiza, a posture in which one kneels, traditionally sitting on the heels with the tops of the feet on the floor. Similarly, if one is practicing Tibetan, Indian, or Yogic meditation forms, full or half lotus pose is often an essential aspect of the practice.
These erect sitting poses can be very difficult to hold for long periods of time, especially for Westerners who grow up sitting in chairs and are generally not at all used to sitting on the floor. Many people experience pain or discomfort with these poses which may be discouraging to their practice. However, at the same time, it is important to recognize the reason why these particular poses have been used in meditation for so many thousands of years. Sitting on the floor provides a certain grounding and ensures that the spine will remain as straight as possible. This allows for greater focus and energetic clarity. The good news is that if these seated poses are uncomfortable, there are a number of traditional tools that can be used to help maintain good posture and comfort in your practice.
If you are interested in doing zazen meditation and want to practice in the seiza pose, but you find that this pose hurts the feet or makes them go numb, you may want to consider a kneeling bench
. These benches allow you to sit in a kneeling posture without putting pressure on your feet. You can also purchase cushions which will help to maintain comfort. These benches are also usually inclined forward slightly so as to encourage a relaxed, upright posture. Seiza is a very good posture for people who find that lotus postures do not give them the support they need, particularly in the low back.
If you are interested in practicing in full or half lotus but find that you lack the flexibility, or would like to practice in a variety of poses, then you may want to consider purchasing a zafu and/or a zabuton
. Zafu are round cushions that are usually filled with buckwheat hulls which hold their shape but can still be adjusted. Zafu are amazing tools for lotus postures because they provide height for the hips. This allows the knees to rest on the floor, letting one maintain the posture even if lacking hip flexibility, and it also provides a great deal of support to the low back and spine. If you find that you cannot hold a lotus pose for long, a zafu will make the pose much easier to hold and will also encourage correct posture. Zafu can also be used for kneeling poses to some extent. We offer them in traditional round and in half-moon shapes.
Traditionally, zafu are used along with large flat, square cushions known as Zabuton. Zabuton are placed underneath the zafu and provide cushion for the knees and ankles, as well as additional support. The combination of a zafu and a zabuton will ensure that you will be able to maintain your chosen meditation pose for a very long time without discomfort or physical stress.
Here at Spiritual Scents we offer a wide variety of kneeling benches, zafu and zabuton, so you are sure to find the meditation aid that suits you the very best. Please keep in mind that, due to the size of these products, we can only ship them within the continental United States. If you have any questions at all about our meditation supplies, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us here at the shop! We would love to answer any inquiries you may have.