Categories
Meditation

Is Meditation A Sin?

Is Meditation a Sin? A youth meditating on the bible

Source: Christianity.com

Meditation Focused is reader-supported. When you purchase through links on our site, we can earn an affiliate commission.

Over 74% of people have experienced stress and anxiety during the past two years [1]. As such, with its proven mental and physical health benefits, meditation has been growing in popularity.

Understandably, as individuals from different faiths start exploring meditation, they might ask themselves “Is meditation a sin?”. The answer is an unequivocal “no”, meditation is not a sin, and in this article, we discuss passages from religious texts that encourage people from all faiths and all walks of life to engage in meditation.

Tables of Contents

  1. What is Meditation?
  2. What does the Bible Say About Meditation?
  3. Can Meditation be Harmful?
  4. Can Meditation Bring Up Trauma?
  5. Is Meditation a Sin?

What is Meditation?

Meditation is the process of training the mind to be still, focusing attention on one point, and gradually increasing awareness through simple breathing exercises. It can take on many forms, but generally includes some form of concentration practice.

Some see it as a Buddhist practice that brings people closer to God or Spirit. However, it was first seen by the Hindu sage Patanjali who called it “dhyana” which means meditation in Sanskrit [2].

Meditation can be practiced by people of all ages, genders, religions and faiths. It requires almost no equipment (although many of our community find using a meditation cushion makes their practice more comfortable, more profound and effective), and can be done anywhere.

The mental and physical health benefits of meditation are well documented in both eastern and western medicine and include:

  • Reduced anxiety and depression
  • Improve mental focus, clarity and concentration
  • Cultivating empathy, kindness, and compassion
  • Allows one to better connect with themselves and know themselves better

What Does the Bible and Other Religious Texts Say About Meditation?

It is not considered sinful by any theological or doctrinal standard to meditate. The Bible does not make any direct nor explicit mention of meditation, so there are no Biblical arguments against it either way.

The Bible does not take a clear stance against meditation. No verse in the Bible directly prohibits it, nor is there any form of punishment for this action.

According to Christianity Today, “Meditation has been widely used for centuries as a way to calm the mind and gain a sense of peace and clarity. Catholics employ meditation as a way to connect with God through prayer, visualization, and iconography.”

Monks from all over the world, have developed ancient meditation techniques, such as Tummo Meditation, that not only bring them closer to their God, but also perform amazing physical heats, such as increasing their own body temperatures.

Some people might think that meditation is a sin in Islam, but in fact, Allah (God) himself chose to guide the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), and one of the things he chose to guide him in was meditation.

Islam’s holy Quran says: “Allah chose Adam and Noah and the family of Abraham, and settled them in the earth; and Allah took walking between them among His slaves. And Allah guides by His permission whom He wills [3].

The Christian Bible also refers to the connection between the thoughts, the mind and the body, where Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he. [4]”

Can Meditation Be Harmful?

Meditation can be positively life-changing and is greatly beneficial to anyone wanting to improve their health and well-being. However, like any other form of meditation, there is a risk that someone may take it too far. Meditation can be harmful if the proper precautions aren’t taken; this would include cautioning consumers about getting an education on meditation before using it.

Most experts agree that the benefits of meditation far out-weigh any potential harm it may cause, but one has to make sure that there is a link between meditation and mental health issues or problems in traumatic events.

One way in which meditation might be harmful is if used as a tool for manipulation and teaching by self-proclaimed gurus or in cults. Meditation practicioners always need to keep themselves aware of the influences they take into their lives and practice, but also remember that meditation is not a sin.

Can Meditation Bring Up Trauma?

While meditation may benefit from quieting the mind, it can also bring up emotions or memories that have been buried for a long time. For example, there have been many accounts of soldiers returning from war suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. They turn to meditation as a way to manage their emotions, but it causes flashbacks and opens the floodgates that keep them separated from their trauma.

Those who have experienced trauma or any negative life experiences should take caution when trying out new meditation techniques. Those with experience in this area often recommend a period of pre-meditation to meditate on positive things before trying out negative ones.

What this highlights is the importance of finding the right community of people to guide you through your journey as you embark on meditating. Meditating will help you face and deal with trauma, but only when done correctly.

Can Meditation Be Harmful?

Many people have used meditation to deal with stress. Using mindfulness, for example, can help a person “be present” of their thoughts and their surroundings. By doing so, a person learns how to deal with everyday life situations in a calm and simple manner.

However, some have noticed that some people become over-focused on the negative things that they have been exposed to during meditation. In this case, if a person continues to meditate on these thoughts and events, they may cause them more harm than good by allowing them to stay stuck in the headspace, causing them distress.

Is Meditation a Sin?

Even though there is no mention of meditation in the Bible, there are many historical references to it. It was originally used as a way to calm the mind and focus ones attention on God. Nowadays, people use meditation for all kinds of issues like stress management, insomnia, and self-improvement.

Even if it doesn’t come from a religiously inspired practice, it can still be beneficial to one’s well-being. While meditation can cause some harm by bringing up memories that were previously buried or ignored memories, the benefits are much more profound than any potentially harmful effects that may come from overdoing it or using it improperly.

So, no, meditation is certainly not a sin. In fact, meditation can help bring people from different faiths closer to their god and closer to one another through understanding, compassion, and empathy.

If you have any other questions you’d like us to answer, then please reach out with an email. We’d glady direct you towards our preferred meditation guides, and texts explaining how meditation is not a sin and the endless life-changing benefits it can have.

Bibliography

  1. https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/facts-statistics
  2. Klaus (2015). Patanjali and neuroscientific research on meditation (Frontiers in Psychology)
  3. https://www.islamguiden.com/arkiv/stories_of_the_prophets.pdf
  4. https://www.biblestudytools.com/proverbs/23-7.html
Categories
Meditation

Tibetan Tummo Meditation | Ignite and Nurture Your Inner Fire ( 13 Step Guide)

Source: Tat-Ming Lim

Meditation Focused is reader-supported. When you purchase through links on our site, we can earn an affiliate commission.

Tales of Tibetan tummo meditators, capable of elevating their body temperatures to dry wet sheets wrapped around their naked bodies during a freezing Himalayan ceremony, have intrigued and baffled practitioners for centuries [1].

It sounds like the stuff of legend, being able to manipulate one’s own body temperature with nothing but the power of the mind. And indeed, while the internal mechanisms of tummo meditation remain uncertain, the steps for practicing the technique are now well understood.

In this comprehensive guide to Tibetan tummo meditation, we discuss:

  • What tummo meditation is
  • The origins of tummo meditation
  • The research surrounding tummo meditation
  • How to practice tummo meditation
  • Personal anecdotes with tummo meditation

Table of Contents

  1. What Is Tibetan Tummo Meditation?
    1. The History of Tummo Meditation
    2. The Benefits of Tummo Meditation
      1. Higher Self-Esteem and Sense of Self-Worth
      2. Improved Memory Retention and Recall
      3. Improved Focus and Concentration
      4. Greater Emotional Stability and Control Over Mood Swings
  2. Research on Tummo Meditation
  3. Step-by-Step Guide to Practicing Tummo Meditation
    1. Two Phases of Tummo Meditation
      1. Forceful Breathing
      2. Gentle Breathing
    2. Alternating between FB and GB
  4. Our experience With Tummo Meditation
  5. Bibliography

What Is Tibetan Tummo Meditation?

The tummo, or g-tummo meditative control of one’s inner energy, is among Indo-Tibetan Buddhism’s most sacred spiritual practices.

The technique combines neurocognitive visualization, isometric muscle tension, and isomatic breath-holding to enter a deep state of relaxation, from where the meditator focuses their internal energy, increasing their core body temperature, and body temperature at their extremities [2].

Also known as “psychic heat” practice, when trained with consistency and commitment, meditators using the tummo meditation technique experience an intense sensation of bodily heat in the spine, lower abdomen, hands, and feet [3].

Tummo meditation works by sitting in a comfortable position, or standing for the more experienced, and focusing on the breath while relaxing the entire body.

The practitioner then begins breathing deeply, or forceful breathing, while visualizing a rising flame that starts below the navel and with each breath rises to the crown of the head [7].

Forceful breathing is followed by a prolonged breath-hold on full lungs while tensing the lower abdomen and diaphragm muscles.

The breath is then gently released, and the practitioner switches to gentle breathing, during which the practitioner visualizes their entire body being filled with a surging sensation of bliss and heat.

We take you through the process step-by-step later in this article.

The History of Tummo Meditation

It is widely accepted that the tummo meditation technique originated in ancient India, with The Buddha Siddhartha Gautama teaching the technique during his lifetime from 563 B.C.E. to 483 B.C.E – well over two thousand years ago [4].

The first written accounts of the technique were scribed by the Indian yogi and Buddhist scholar Naropa and in the Tibetan Bön lineage, since which time the technique spread and was practiced throughout monasteries in Indo-China.

In contemporary Buddhism, monasteries that maintain an extensive tummo practice are relatively rare and are mainly located in eastern Tibet (now the Chinese provinces of Qinghai and Sichuan).

Source: Rime Center

Tummo meditation has also made its way into western culture, with individuals such as Wim Hoff advocating similar breathing and meditative techniques to withstand exposure to extreme cold and environmental stresses.

The Benefits of Tummo Meditation

Many of the mental benefits practitioners gain from tummo meditation align with the general benefits of any meditative practice.

These include:

  • Higher self-esteem and sense of self-worth
  • Improved memory retention and recall
  • Improved focus and concentration
  • Greater emotional stability and control over mood swings
  • Greater awareness of the self and how one interacts with one’s environment and peers

Higher Self-Esteem and Sense of Self-Worth

A primary goal of Buddhism is to cultivate love and compassion for oneself and one’s peers.

By regularly engaging in tummo meditation, practitioners report an increased sense of self-worth and self-confidence [18].

This is likely due to experiencing the physical sensations of internal warmth and joy, but also because of the individual’s achievement of committing to practice, working on that practice regularly, then noticing the tangible results.

Improved Memory Retention and Recall

Meditation of any technique, and particularly tummo meditation, requires a clear mind in order to achieve the deep state of relaxation necessary for vivid visualization.

In turn, having a clear mind means processing thoughts to the point that they no longer need to be processed – so they no longer linger on the mind.

The time spent following and processing one’s thoughts, so they no longer need thinking about, helps meditation practitioners store and recall information and memories because the mind isn’t cluttered, it is organized and still.

Improved Focus and Concentration

By teaching the mind to only focus on the task at hand – in this case, visualization and breath control – tummo meditation practitioners exercise their mind’s capacity for extended attention to a single task or thought.

This learned and practiced skill then becomes transferable to other daily activities and tasks.

Greater Emotional Stability and Control Over Mood Swings

By processing one’s thoughts through tummo meditation, the practitioner is able to self-reflect on a deep level. They get to one themselves by analyzing their interactions, conversations, and reactions to external stimuli.

By better knowing the self, what makes one agitated, what makes one calm, a meditator then improves their ability to control their reactions to scenarios in their everyday lives.

Control Over Body Temperature

One of the unique benefits of tummo meditation is the ability to control one’s own body temperature.

As a monk practicing meditation in the frigid Himalayan environment, the ability to warm oneself is understandably a beneficial skill.

In the modern-day, athletes and travelers have benefited from tummo meditation if they find themselves in unplanned survival situations and can prevent hypothermia by resorting to the tummo meditation technique [5].

Research on Tummo Meditation

Science and the spiritual will always toil in a never-ending duel of skepticism, belief, and proof-seeking.

“In a monastery in northern India, thinly clad Tibetan monks sat quietly in a room where the temperature was a chilly 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.4° Celsius). Using a yoga technique known as g Tum-mo, they entered a state of deep meditation. Other monks soaked 3-by-6-foot sheets in cold water (49° Fahrenheit, or 9.4° Celsius) and placed them over the meditators’ shoulders. For untrained people, such frigid wrappings would produce uncontrolled shivering.

If body temperatures continue to drop under these conditions, death can result. But it was not long before steam began rising from the sheets. As a result of body heat produced by the monks during meditation, the sheets dried in about an hour.

Attendants removed the sheets, then covered the meditators with a second chilled, wet wrapping. Each monk was required to dry three sheets over a period of several hours” [6].

Source: Harvard News, courtesy of Herbert Benson

Since witnessing this scene in the 1970s, French researcher Herbert Benson, amongst numerous others, has studied tummo meditation through the lens of science for the past forty years to analyze and quantify the physiological changes that occur in a meditator practicing tummo meditation.

Numerous peer-reviewed studies have demonstrated significant changes in core body temperature and peripheral body temperature during tummo mediation [7,8], as well as metabolic and electroencephalographic changes in heart rate and brainwave patterns [9].

Changes in core body temperature were shown to be correlated with the duration of breath-hold and intensity of isometric muscle contraction, suggesting increased localized blood flow might be partly responsible for temperature increases.

Local vasodilation and visualization of the flame imagery are thought to contribute to maintaining an increased core body temperature, as the heat generated during forceful breathing and isometric contraction isn’t lost.

While science and scholars will always strive to explain the biological mechanisms that cause phenomena such as body temperature control through tummo meditation, the monks who have practiced this technique for millennia know and experience it daily.

Step-by-Step Guide to Practicing Tummo Meditation

Please understand that the monks who use tummo meditation to dry wet sheets in near-freezing conditions have dedicated their lives to Buddhism and meditation.

Cultivating this level of control over one’s mind and body is a life-long pursuit. In fact, each of the monks studied in Kozhevnikov et al.’s 2013 paper had participated in no less than three three-year tummo meditation retreats.

We don’t include this information to discourage you from practicing tummo meditation – on the contrary, we use it to encourage you to practice as regularly as possible. Ourselves and other members of Meditation Focused have personally experienced the sensation of internal fire from using tummo meditation – but we’ve also never dried wet sheets with our bodies in the Himalayas.

If you apply the following steps in a regular practice (ideally daily, but minimum 3-4 times a week), over a period of weeks, months, or perhaps even years, you too will begin to experience the surging sensation of inner fire.

Two Phases of Tummo Meditation

Tummo meditation involves alternating between two distinct phases of breathing and visualization, using a primal breathing technique known as “vase breathing”.

This style of breathing gets its name from the protruding lower abdomen after a full inhalation, which resembles a vase or a pot.

Source: Square Space

Forceful Breathing

The first phase of tummo meditation is forceful breathing (FB), which is rigorous inhalation and exhalation through the mouth, accompanied by visualization of a flame starting below the naval, which builds to the crown of the head with each inhalation.

During the FB phase, inhalation is rapid but as deep as possible. The exhalation is performed by ‘dumping’ the air as fast as possible through the mouth, accompanied by a ‘huh’ sound, forcing all the air from the lungs using the stomach and diaphragm.

While performing this breathing, the practitioner visualizes the air fanning their flame, from a glowing white ember to a fire that is bigger than their body. The purpose here is to cultivate and build as much heat as possible.

After the FB phase, the practitioner performs a full lung breath-hold, which is then followed by gentle breathing.

Gentle Breathing

Following FB and the breath-hold is gentle breathing (GB), which is delicate breathing and without strain.

Allowing the breath to come naturally, during GB, the practitioner visualizes the heat generated during FB seeping from their body’s center to fill the rest of the body with a warm sensation of bliss and heat.

The goal of GB is to maintain the heat and observe the sensations it causes in the body. So FB and the breath-hold can be viewed as building the fire and internal heat, whereas GB is maintaining and experiencing the heat.

13 Step Guided Tummo Meditation Session

  1. Find a comfortable seated position in a secure, enjoyable space. A meditation cushion that facilitates correct posture, spinal alignment, and comfort can be useful to optimize your tummo meditation practice.
  2. Sit with eyes open, breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth, taking stock of your immediate surroundings, any noises in your environment. Notice these sounds, contemplate their sources.
  3. Gradually, close the eyes, and slow the breathing. Bring your focus away from your environment to the breath. Let your thoughts come and go, and let them play out in your mind.
  4. Once your mind starts to quieten, start making the breath deeper and even slower, and begin a “body scan”. A body scan is a process of mentally observing each part of your body, and releasing any tension.
    1. First, visualize the crown of your head, then forehead, ears, nose, cheeks, lips. Gradually move into the neck, throat, the collar bone, the muscles of your shoulders, triceps, biceps, forearms, wrist, backs of the hands, each finger segment.
    2. Then return to your core, relax the chest, upper abdominals, lowers abdominals, the pelvic muscles. Go over each of your legs, relaxing your quads, hamstrings, kneecaps, calves, ankles, and each muscle in your foot.
    3. On your way back up your back, do your backside, relaxing the buttocks, anus, lower back, mid-back, lats, traps, dropping the shoulders, finally returning to the crown of your head.
    4. Do this as many times as you need to feel fully relaxed, aware, and familiar with your body. Then, start the same process, but visualize your skeleton, internal organs, blood vessels, and inner workings.
    5. Practicing a proper, complete body scan is itself a powerful meditation, and the more you do it, the greater detail and depth you’ll learn to visualize your own body with. It might take 5-10 sessions before you can do a complete body scan without losing your train of thought, so first, work on performing a whole-body scan before moving into the subsequent phases of tummo meditation.
  5. Once your body scan is complete, and you can visualize inside yourself almost becoming a red blood cell and traveling around inside your body, you can begin the fire visualization required for tummo meditation.
  6. Take your awareness to the base of your spine. It is here that you start to visualize a tiny ember, the smallest grain of white-hot sand. Notice where it is in relation to the rest of your organs, musculature, and bones, and as you breath see how when you inhale, the ember glows with heat, and as you exhale, the ember burns with residual heat.
  7. Once you can clearly see this white-hot ember in your mind’s eye, begin forceful breathing (FB). Take rapid, deep inhalations through the mouth, exhaling with a forceful ‘huh’ sound. With each breath, notice how the flame starts to grow, how its heat intensifies, and how the flame’s crown gets higher and higher up your spine with each fanning inhalation.
  8. When the flame reaches the crown of your head, take a final deep inhalation, and hold your breath with full lungs. Squeeze the muscles of your pelvic floor and your anus, push out your lower abdomen so it resembles a vase, and hold your breath, visualizing the flame burning with as much intensity as it can, like a blow torch on full-bore.
  9. As you get more experienced with tummo meditation (by this, we mean after weeks and months of daily practice, so your practice times are getting towards 40-50 hours), gradually extend the duration of these breath holds. Experienced tummo meditators might hold their breath for 2-2.5 minutes, but those just starting out should only aim for 5-10 seconds and slowly increase breath-hold durations by 2-3 second intervals every 2-3 sessions.
  10. After your breath hold, gently and gradually release the breath, visualizing the flame calming down, and then switch the gentle breathing (GB).
  11. During GB, you allow your breath to come softly and naturally, breathing as the body asks you to. Visualize the heat you generated during FB and the breath-hold leeching away from the ember at the base of your spine, permeating every bone, organ, cell, and body part. Experience the bliss of the heat spreading through your entire body.
  12. After several minutes, you’ll notice the heat subsiding. When you’re comfortable and ready again, do another body scan, then begin another round of FB, a breath-hold, and GB. Do as many rounds as you wish, as many as you feel comfortable doing. We recommend doing only a single round during the first 2-3 weeks of your practice, as this allows you to really focus on your body scan and visualization.
  13. When you’re beginning to finish your session, visualize your fire slowly subsiding, gradually returning to a single point at the base of your spine. Then, gently open your eyes, and while maintaining a soft focus, take stock of your surroundings. Rub your hands together, rub your face seven times with your hands, massage your head seven times with both hands, rub down each arm with the opposite hand seven times, straighten each leg and rub each leg down seven times. This is to bring you out of your meditation and restimulate the blood flow.

Practicing tummo meditation is best done regularly. It is better to do 15 minutes every day instead of 1 hour twice a week.

To help with regular practice, download our free month-long practice schedule. We’ve created pre-planned daily sessions that vary in session duration, number of rounds, and breath-hold duration, to help you work towards a tangible goal and build a habitual practice. .

Really develop your body focus as the foundation for tummo meditation. Learning to visualize your body in detail, both inside and out, is an essential skill to picturing the flame during your meditation.

*If you’re unfamiliar with the body scan technique, don’t do FB, the breath-hold, or GB during your first 5-10 sessions. Learn how to do the body scan first, and use that as your daily meditation.

With each session, you’ll see you can visualize your body faster and in more detail, releasing more tension and stress. Once you can do this comfortably, start short phases of FB, breath-holding, and GB. Do this regularly, with patience, consistency, and dedication, and after a number of weeks or months, you will begin to experience the incredible sensation of controlling, fanning, and manipulating your inner fire.

Our experience With Tummo Meditation

The above process of tummo meditation was taught to a community member while he stayed with a Buddhist monk in an abandoned hostel in the mountains behind Dali, China, for two months in 2011.

Source: Top China Travel

Since then, he has continued tummo meditation and practiced the technique with other teachers in Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, and Scotland. This is what he says about his journey in practicing tummo:

“Doing tummo meditation is just like anything else – it’s a skill that needs training, guiding, and regular practice.

When I first learned the basics of tummo, it took me two weeks of daily practice, around 3 hours each day, to become familiar and comfortable with the body scan before moving onto the FB and GB phases. Once I could do a calm, full external and internal body scan, I moved on to practicing visualizing the ember at my spine’s base.

This took another two weeks to find, and then I started playing with FB and GB. I could feel some heat but didn’t learn to gain rudimentary control over the ember and create a flame until around 3 months of practice, after which I could make the flame hotter, but then spreading and retaining the heat during GB took a long time to learn.

Learning to visualize deeply and with incredible detail was key for me. It can be tempting to rush the practice, but if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll realize the best way is to enjoy the practice for what it is and let the improvements happen naturally. This can’t be forced”.

So, we encourage you to start tummo meditation, but with no expectations. Adopt the mindset of it being a longer-term goal, and remember that the point is to feel deeply relaxed and connected between your body and mind.

If you have any questions or would like to share your experience with tummo meditation or tell us how our process has helped you, we’d love to hear from you! Send us an email, and we’ll get back to you.

Bibliography

  1. David-Neel A (1971) Magic and Mystery in Tibet (Dover Publications, New York).
  2. Evans-Wentz WY (2002) Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines (Pilgrims Publishing, Varanisa, India).
  3. Mullin GH (1996) Tsongkhapa’s Six Yogas of Naropa (Snow Lion Publication, Ithaca, NY).
  4. Michael Carrithers, The Buddha (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983, ISBN 0192875906), 3.
  5. https://medium.com/@yogaadvise/the-iceman-wim-hof-on-breathing-yourself-warm-this-winter-340a92ae67f3
  6. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2002/04/meditation-changes-temperatures/
  7. Kozhevnikov M, Elliott J, Shephard J, Gramann K (2013) Neurocognitive and Somatic Components of Temperature Increases during g-Tummo Meditation: Legend and Reality. PLoS ONE 8(3): e58244. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0058244
  8. Benson H, Lehmann JW, Malhotra MS, Goodman RF, Hopkins J, et al. (1982) Body temperature changes during the practice of g-tummo yoga. Nature 295: 234–236.
  9. Benson H, Malhotra MS, Goldman RF, Jacobs GD, Hopkins PJ (1990) Three case reports of the metabolic and electroencephalographic changes during advanced Buddhist meditation techniques. Behav. Med 16: 90–95.
Categories
Meditation

How to Choose Your Perfect Meditation Cushion

Meditation Focused is reader-supported. When you purchase through links on our site, we can earn an affiliate commission.

Choosing a suitable meditation cushion will improve your posture, comfort levels and deepen your practice. It will facilitate your meditation wherever and whenever you wish to practice.

We’ve been meditating for over a decade and can say from personal experience that finding the best cushion isn’t as easy as it may sound.

So, in this article, we explain what goes into choosing a meditation pillow and how you can select the perfect cushion to further enhance and continue your meditation journey.

Why Is a Meditation Pillow Necessary?

Meditation requires proper posture and alignment, so you can sit comfortably while facilitating effortless breathing and energy flow around the body for prolonged periods of time. A meditation pillow helps promote the right kind of posture and alignment needed for meditation practice.

Meditation pillows also provide comfort and support for the body. There are many types of meditation cushions, each one catering to a different body type, weight, level of flexibility, and desired degree of firmness or softness. We’ve reviewed our seven favorite meditation cushions to help you choose the right one here.

What Is the Proper Posture for Meditation?

Correct meditation posture has several key elements:

– Sitting with your spine erect

Knees below the hips, facilitating blood circulation

Shoulders relaxed, dropped away from your ears

Chin slightly tucked in towards collar bone

Eyes closed or softly gazing at a slight decline angle, in line with the tilt of the head

– Hands placed loosely on the knees, thighs, or lap

This image demonstrates how a meditation cushion can improve posture during meditation

Source: Freelancer.is

Proper meditation posture aligns the body while promoting balanced energy flow. It helps you relax, supports the neck, spine, and shoulders, and makes breathing easier while providing comfort for the body while you meditate.

Flexibility is often the limiting factor that prevents people from sitting with proper meditation posture, which is why a meditation cushion can be so beneficial.

What Should I Look For When Choosing a Meditation Cushion?

There are several considerations to take into account when choosing a meditation cushion:

Shape

The shape is perhaps the most important consideration for a meditation cushion, as different forms facilitate different sitting positions. Is the cushion rectangular, circular, V-shaped, or elongated?

V-shapes enable the feet to be easily pulled towards the body, while circular cushions will further elevate the hips. Long cushions will allow the practitioner to straddle or kneel on the pillow, which is highly beneficial for those with limited hip flexibility.

Firmness

How firm do you want your cushion to be? We suggest one that is firm enough to support your spine while you sit cross-legged and soft enough to be comfortable and mold to the shape of your seat.

Size

What size do you prefer? Where are you planning on using your cushion? If you plan on meditating in various locations, such as on hikes, in the forest, on the beach, or in class, a smaller or foldable cushion makes transportation easier.

On the other hand, if you’re planning on setting up a meditation area in your home, such as in a spare room or on your balcony, then a larger meditation cushion might be more appropriate.

Material

The material depends on how you plan to use your meditation cushion. If you’ll be moving it around and using it outdoors, you want to ensure your cushion is made of highly durable fabric that is easily washed. If your pillow is more for home use, selecting an aesthetically pleasing material might be more priority.

Design

Let us not forget that meditation is a profoundly personal experience, and your primary tool for facilitating meditation needs to appeal to the user.

Source: Live And Dare

What Color Should My Meditation Cushion Be?

There are many different colors and prints available, so selecting a color that resonates with you, your personality, and your goals for your meditation practice is essential to make your approach unique and personalized.

Red – associated with heat and fire, high energy

Violet – restores spiritual balance

Yellow – mood-boosting and provides clarity

Blue – a soothing color that promotes relaxation

Black – nurtures deep inward focus and discipline

Orange – induces confidence and mental serenity

Green – stimulates balance and sensitivity; encourages slow, deep breathing

Source: Infographic Now

What Is the Correct Seat Height for a Meditation Pillow?

The height of your cushion needs to promote correct meditation posture. Generally, the stiffer the hips are, the higher the pillow needs to be. When sitting cross-legged for meditation, your knees should be either in line with or ideally below the hips.

If you can’t sit comfortably in a cross-legged position, look for meditation cushions that elevate your buttocks and hips high enough so that you can cross your ankles and have your knees dropped lower than your hips. This might mean selecting a cushion set that includes a padded mat to help protect the feet and ankles.

On the other hand, if you’d like to work on your flexibility or can already sit comfortably cross-legged, a flat cushion with less height will help you work towards your goals.

Source: Hugger Mugger

Choosing the Right Filling: Buckwheat Filling

Buckwheat filling is made from the hulls of buckwheat seeds, which is the outer seed covering not used for consumption. They are the most commonly used filling for meditation pillows, as they are highly durable and supportive yet still soft and malleable.

We suggest you select a meditation cushion that uses buckwheat filling or high-grade foam stuffing for ergonomic support.

Non-recommended alternative fillings include polystyrene balls, which have several pitfalls as cushion filling. Not only are they non-environmentally friendly, but their texture and lightweight make them noisy and unsupportive, preventing the meditator from finding a firm, comfortable position on the cushion.

Final Thoughts: The Best Choice for a Meditation Cushion

Hopefully, this article has helped you understand a bit more about how to choose a meditation cushion.

To summarize, we suggest considering:

  • Your level of flexibility. Your cushion needs to facilitate proper posture. So, be completely honest with yourself. If your hips are stiff, select a taller cushion that will allow you to sit comfortably with your knees below the hips. If a greater range of motion is accessible to you, select a shorter cushion that can slowly improve flexibility until you can access the half-louts and full-lotus positions.
  • Where and how you plan to meditate and use your cushion. If you travel and meditate in different places, go with a smaller, foldable cushion with an easily cleaned, highly durable cover. If you’ll be using your meditation cushion at home, go for more of a set that includes ankle and foot protection while facilitating hip elevation.
  • Your personal color and design preferences. Choose a cushion that appeals to you and resonates with you. Remember, meditation is your journey, so select a cushion that reflects that.

If, at the end of this article, you’re still undecided on a meditation cushion, take a look at our seven favorite cushions here. You could also try our community’s favorite cushion, the Hugger Mugger V-Shaped Cushion Print.

This V-shaped cushion enables you to adjust your seat height easily. It is small enough to be easily transported but also aesthetically pleasing. Decide for yourself!

Hugger Mugger V-Shaped Cushion Print.

 

 

Categories
Meditation

7 Best Meditation Cushions That Also Work for Chilling, Working, and Relaxing

Meditation Focused is reader-supported. When you purchase through links on our site, we can earn an affiliate commission.

When you think of meditation, what image comes to mind?

For many, it’s someone sitting peacefully on the floor, legs crossed or in the lotus position. But in reality, sitting like this takes practice.

Finding a comfortable meditation position can be challenging.

Tight hips, lower back injuries, and rounded shoulders can make sitting on the floor uncomfortable, which is why thousands of meditation practitioners choose to use meditation cushions.

Selecting the right meditation cushion, meditation pillow, or meditation mat for your practice depends on several variables:

  • Your level of flexibility
  • The space in which you wish to meditate
  • The type of floor you’ll be sitting on
  • If you want to use your meditation cushion exclusively for meditation
  • The duration of your meditation

Here, we discuss the proper position for meditation. We also review our community’s favorite meditation cushions so that you can find the perfect cushion to make your meditation enjoyable and effective.

Table of Contents

  1. Meditation Posture
  2. 7 Best Meditation Cushions Reviewed
    1. MoonLeap Meditation Crescent Cushion
    2. Halfmoon Linen Mod Sit Set
    3. Zafuko Foldout Triangle Thai Cushion Bed
    4. Shakti Warrior Cork Zen Meditation Cushion
    5. Hugger Mugger V-Shape Cushion Print
    6. B Yoga The Calm Zabuton
    7. Zafuko Zafu Large Foldable Meditation and Yoga Cushion
  3. Key Considerations When Selecting a Meditation Cushion: Which Cushion is Right For Me?
    1. Limited Flexibility
    2. Intermediate to advanced positions
  4. Final Thoughts

Meditation Posture

The meditation cushion you select needs to promote good meditative posture. This is a seated position in which you are:

  • Stable – so your mind and body feel supported, which allows complete withdrawal from thoughts on maintaining your balance and position
  • Straight – so your spine and neck are vertically aligned, offering total support to the head and room for the abdomen and ribcage to feely expand with the breath
  • Comfortable – so you can enjoy a prolonged mediation, in which you get deeper into your practice, without distracting thoughts of needing to change position or experiencing discomfort

When you find a meditation cushion that allows you to sit in such a manner, you can then focus on perfecting your posture, the fundamental principles of which include:

  • Slightly tuck your chin towards your collar bone while lifting the crown of your head towards the sky
  • Softly seal your lips with a relaxed jaw, and place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth
  • Passively drop your shoulders and pull them away from your ears, creating proper spinal alignment and freeing up the ribcage for breathing
  • Tuck your pelvis forward and underneath your body, supporting the spinal column, relieving pressure on the buttocks, and decompressing the sciatic nerve

Common meditation posture problems include rounding the shoulders, not correctly supporting the pelvis, sitting on a painful surface, and not having the back and head vertically aligned.

Demonstrating the correct way to sit on a meditation cushion for healthy, effective mieditative posture

Source: Moon Leap

Selecting the right meditation cushion, and using that cushion on a soft surface, such as carpet or a meditation mat, will help you achieve this optimal posture for meditation. This is why we’ve created this review of the best meditation cushions.

7 Best Meditation Cushions Reviewed

All cushions included in this list have been recommended by one or more members of the Meditation Focused community. We’ve included a different styles of cushion catered to meditators of varying flexibility, experience, and preferences.

MoonLeap Meditation Crescent Cushion

Key Features:

  • Intelligently designed for anterior pelvic tilt, relieving strain on the sciatic nerve and supporting the spinal column
  • Facilitates even weight distribution, stimulating blood flow and preventing numbness in the lower body
  • Heavyweight, non-slip fabric design sewn together with super durable upholstery grade thread

The team at Moonleap has revolutionized how comfortable and sustainable meditation can be.

Their flagship cushion, the Crescent Cushion ticks all the boxes when it comes to promoting good and comfortable meditation posture.

Using organic spelt husk filling, these highly durable, long-life cushions displace weight evenly while facilitating breathability and circulation.

Their ergonomic design supports forward pelvic tilt while enabling comfortable and effortless vertical spinal alignment.

The contoured design also relieves pressure on the sciatic nerve, allowing you to sit for longer without experiencing numbness in the lower body.

Buy On MoonLeap

Halfmoon Linen Mod Sit Set

Key Features:

  • Adjustable support for optimal meditation posture enabling feet and ankles to tuck comfortably underneath the meditator’s core
  • A purpose-designed mat offers a soft surface for the meditator’s feet and ankle bones, maximizing comfort and focus
  • Long-life linen unzippable cover, easy to clean and refill

Run by life-long yogic meditator and practitioner Beth McTavish, Halfmoon is inspired by the yogis Beth witnessed practicing meditation on the banks of the River Ganges.

Featuring a 100% linen lining with 100% buckwheat hulls filling, the Halfmoon linen mod sit set is designed for maximum comfort.

With the cushion fixed atop a soft linen mat, the Halfmoon facilitates optimal meditation posture while also protecting the feet, ankles, and knees from the hard floor. This helps meditators find more profound states of relaxation and take their meditation further.

Buy at Yoga Outlet

Zafuko Foldout Triangle Thai Cushion Bed

Key Features:

  • Easy height manipulation depending on your flexibility and practice requirements
  • Multi-use as a meditation cushion, or a place to take a short break, read a book, or while enjoying family and friend time
  • Durable fabric with double-stitched ends offering a long-lasting cushion to facilitate comfortable, deep meditation

Inspired by her eight years living in Bali as a single mother, Zafuko founder Katia Van Roosbroeck realized meditation needed to be accessible to everyone.

She noticed the flexibility requirements of sitting in a lotus or half-lotus position, or even cross-legged on the floor, was a barrier to meditation for some people.

This was the inspiration behind the Zafuko meditation cushion bed, which enables a meditator to adjust the height of the cushion head according to their personal needs and find a position that facilitates comfortable, deep meditation.

Purchase Zafuko Foldout Triangle Thai Cushion Bed

Shakti Warrior Cork Zen Meditation Cushion

Key Features:

  • Biodegradable, 100% recyclable cork fabric lining filled with buckwheat, which naturally molds to your seats’ shape, facilitating a comfortable, healthy posture
  • Woven handle and 14” X 14” for easy transportation
  • Double stitching for extra durability

From the team at Shakti Warrior, the Warrior Cork Zen Meditation Cushion is lightweight, highly functional, and comfortable, making it an ideal choice for meditators who prefer to practice in various locations.

Supporting proper spinal and pelvic alignment, meditators can carry the Cork Zen anywhere they please, whether that be in the home, to the beach, to the forest, or even on a hike.

Buy at Yoga Outlet

Hugger Mugger V-Shape Cushion Print

Key Features:

  • Uniquely designed to pull feet in and under your body for a more central, supported alignment
  • Changeable change pillow height and firmness by removing or adding buckwheat hull filling through a purpose-designed zipper
  • Handmade guarantees quality and personalization

The Hugger Mugger V-Shape Cushion Print is designed to help meditators improve their posture and reduce distractions during their practice.

By allowing the meditator to elevate the buttocks and pelvis, then pull the feet in close to the body, the unique V-Shape facilitates and encourages anterior pelvic tilt, vertical spinal alignment, and reduced pressure on the knees.

An ideal choice for those moving further into the practice and looking to extend their meditation session duration.

Buy at Yoga Outlet

B Yoga The Calm Zabuton

Key Features

  • Larger seating surface that also cushions the feet and ankles
  • Encourages hip and lower back flexibility by requiring a crossed-legged or lotus position
  • For meditators with intermediate to advanced flexibility who want to work on lotus position comfortably

Unlike our other recommendations, the B Yoga Calm Zabuton doesn’t significantly raise the hips and pelvis.

Instead, the Calm Zabuton facilitates comfortable cross-legged sitting close to the floor while cushioning the buttocks, thighs, knees, ankles, and feet.

Ideal for meditators working on their hip flexibility and lotus position, but who still want to enjoy a comfortable practice.

Buy at Yoga Outlet

Zafuko Zafu Large Foldable Meditation and Yoga Cushion

Key Features:

  • Foldable and expandable design made for easy transport and comfortable meditation practice
  • Handmade in Thailand with eco-friendly products
  • Can be used as support during other practices, such as for difficult yoga positions

Our final meditation cushion recommendation comes handmade from Thailand.

Due to its ease of transportation and high comfort factor, the Zafu Foldable Meditation Cushion is ideal for those going to a meditation group or a yoga class.

Folded, the cushion provides elevation for the hips and buttocks, facilitating easy meditation posture. Unfolded, the cushion also offers an area to sit cross-legged and work on lotus position or to lay using as a pillow for savasana or rest.

Buy at Yoga Outlet

Key Considerations When Selecting a Meditation Cushion: Which Cushion is Right For Me?

Sitting on or close to the floor is something we have lost in western culture.

As a result, our hips are tight, our lower backs are stiff, and our shoulders are rounded.

Along with the mental and emotional benefits of meditation, sitting in a cross-legged position daily or several times a week helps unlock our bodies and promote healthy flexibility and movement.

When selecting your meditation cushion, the primary considerations are:

  • You are comfortable
  • You can tilt your pelvis slightly forward, releasing to the lower back
  • You can sit with a straight spine and neck, preventing rounding of the shoulders
  • You can sit like this for as long as you require

Your meditation cushion should complement and facilitate your practice – it should make it more relaxing, enjoyable, and peaceful.

Limited Flexibility

With this in mind, for those meditators with tight hips and limited range of motion, we strongly recommend cushions that elevate the hips, such as the MoonLeap Meditation Crescent Cushion, the Halfmoon Linen Mod Sit Set, the Hugger Mugger V-Shape Cushion Print, or the Cork Zen Meditation Cushion.

Intermediate to Advanced Positions

On the other hand, some meditators who can already sit in a flat cross-legged position comfortably might wish to progressively release their hips and work towards more advanced meditation poses such as the half-lotus and lotus. In these cases, cushions that protect the feet, ankles, and buttocks while nurturing proper posture, such as the Zafuko Foldout Triangle Thai Cushion Bed, the B Yoga The Calm Zabuton, or the Zafuko Zafu Large Foldable Meditation and Yoga Cushion.

Final Thoughts

The more comfortable you are during meditation, the more likely you are to pursue it regularly.

We have found time and again that meditators with a routine and a comfortable location to meditate, practice with greater frequency and get into a deeper meditative state.

Each meditator is different, and the right cushion for you might not be the same as your friend. But from our experience, the Halfmoon Linen Mod Sit Set has consistently proven to provide long-lasting meditative comfort for all practitioners who use it.

We wish you the best of luck in your search and hope you’ve found this review helpful.