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Which meditation cushion is right for me?

Welches Meditationskissen passt zu mir?

If you are interested in this topic, I also recommend that you read the blog article “The meditation seat: this is how you sit correctly.”

To choose the right meditation cushion, ask yourself the following 3 questions:

  • Which sitting position is suitable for my body?
  • What seat height do I need?
  • How long do I want to sit?

Which sitting position is suitable for my body?

First of all, you should look at the different possibilities of sitting posture. Sometimes you intuitively prefer one or the other sitting position. That's a good thing, because you should feel good when meditating.

However, there are also seating options, such as the meditation bench, which at first glance look less comfortable than they actually are. So, of course, it's always best to try out the different options. A good meditation studio should be equipped accordingly. Maybe there's a studio near you.

The classic yogi posture is the cross-legged posture

✅ Some mobility and flexibility in joints and hips are required.

❌Not suitable for people with limited mobility, sciatica or sacrum problems.

The cross-legged posture offers a number of advantages. One sits with an naturally upright spine on the meditation cushion. The back can be straight, relaxed and in free balance at the same time. Sitting upright keeps us from falling asleep and supports circulation and the communication path of the spine.

The crossed legs offer a compact, stable and well-grounded meditation position. This enables sitting in stillness and in the same time a good blood circulation in the legs. The immobility of the body and the reduction of external stimuli help our brain and body to calm down.

Depending on our preferences and our individual physical abilities, we can put our legs down or cross them in different ways. The different versions are called lotus position, burmese position, cross-legged position, siddhasana, muktasana etc. See the 4 most important types of the cross-legged position on the homepage.

 

The seat on a chair

✅ A good choice for limited physical possibilities.

It is also very easy and good to meditate on a chair. This is a good solution, especially when the physical possibilities are limited. You should then rather sit a little forward on the chair and not necessarily lean your back. For example, if you have knee or hip problems, sitting cross-legged quickly becomes a health risk. Be warned against too much ambition. Always watch your joints!

❌ Meditating on a chair offers a less compact posture.

Sitting on the heels – kneeling pose [Vajrasana]

✅ Compact seat that can be a good choice even with limited physical capabilities. Also suitable for pregnant women.

❌ Make sure that your body weight is not on your legs.

The heel seat is often taken in combination with a meditation bench. The main advantage of this is that the body weight does not rest on the legs but on the meditation bench. The mediation bench is often a very good solution for a quiet and compact seat, even with limited physical possibilities. It is suitable for longer sessions. They come in different shapes and with comfortable and pleasant padding.

Bolster cushions, cuboid cushions or round cushions are also often used for the heel seat. This can also be a good alternative. However, you should make sure that your body weight rests on the pillow and not on your legs or heels.

What seat height do I need?

The appropriate seat height results from the combination of body size, mobility and flexibility of the joints and your hips.

✅ Smaller, flexible meditators usually get along well with a pillow about 10 cm high. But there are also many taller yogis who, thanks to good mobility, sit quite close to the ground. Some even sit on the bare floor. But maybe that is not a necessity. 😉

✅ Meditators from about 180 cm usually sit a little higher up to about 25 cm. But even smaller, inexperienced meditators with limited mobility like to sit a little higher.

Ultimately, everyone has to find the right height for themselves and just try it out. Alternatively, you can also choose the higher meditation cushion and reduce the filling height if necessary. You should make sure that the filling can be removed with a zipper. Another advantage of a larger meditation cushion is that it usually offers a larger and therefore better seat and leg rest.

How long do I want to sit?

The duration of the meditation is a very decisive criterion and yet the question of it is usually left out when choosing a meditation cushion.

✅ The rule of thumb is: If you only sit for 5-20 minutes, you can get by with most meditation cushions.

✅ However, if you want to sit for 20 minutes or more, you will inevitably have to deal with pain and numbness in your limbs, at least at the beginning. This is where the wrong meditation cushion can become an insurmountable obstacle to relaxed and fulfilling meditation.

Meditation is a generic term that everyone understands differently. Guided online meditations are reaching many people today, and that's a good thing. However, such popular meditation techniques differ significantly from the way Buddhist monks, for example, meditate.

However, if you want to learn techniques of concentrative mindfulness in order to experience deep states of concentration [access concentration, Nimita, Jhana] and the associated mind-expanding states, 20-minute sessions will not get you very far.

The same is true for neuroplasticity, the change in structure and density of the brain as a result of meditation. There are numerous studies with astonishing results. It's similar to the gym here. If you want to achieve noticeable effects, you have to practice every day.

Of course, the whole thing also depends on personal predisposition, i.e. the individual circumstances. Among experienced yogis, a 45-minute daily meditation session is considered the minimum duration to make progress in meditative absorption. There is hardly any upper limit. Buddhist monks usually sit for several hours every day.

All questions answered? Then you can choose your pillow now!

Choose between:

Round Pillow

✅ The traditional round cushion is often seen in yoga and meditation studios. However, it offers little seating comfort and is more suitable for short meditations. They are often available in different seat heights. It is advisable to choose a round pillow with a slightly larger diameter. It is suitable for sitting cross-legged and also conditionally for the heel seat.

❌The shape of a "cooking pot" offers little seating comfort. Therefore, the round cushion is more suitable for shorter meditations.

Zafu

✅ The Zafu is the slightly more comfortable version of the round cushion and is therefore more suitable for longer sessions. It is usually slightly larger and has stretch folds. In comparison to the normal round pillow, a slight support for the coccyx is achieved. As a result, the pelvis rolls slightly forward. It is suitable for sitting cross-legged and also conditionally for the heel seat.

❌It does not provide a tray for the thighs. The coccyx support is only partially available.

Crescent Cushion – Half Moon Cushion

✅ Crescent cushions are suitable for sitting cross-legged. The shape with the angled seat and the short thigh supports already show signs of good seating ergonomics. It is recommended to choose a larger half-moon cushion. A larger, more comfortable half-moon cushion is also suitable for longer sessions.

❌ Unfortunately, many half-moon cushions are rather small and in this case do not support the body adequately.

Meditation Bench or Stool

✅ The meditation bench is a classic and our insider tip for sitting comfortably during meditation. Visually, the meditation benches, which are mostly made of wood, often look a bit sparse. Therefore, most people are amazed at how good it is to sit on. There are also meditation benches with padding, which is definitely helpful. Also pay attention to an angled seat. This allows the pelvis to tilt, which in turn provides better support for the spine. There are variants with rounded seat legs for stepless, individual angle adjustment. For some this is ideal, for others too shaky. Only trying helps. Meditation benches are particularly suitable for the heel seat. You can also do longer sessions on meditation benches.

❌ The meditation bench is not really suitable for sitting with crossed legs.

Bolsters, Cuboids, Rectangular Cushions

✅ Bolster, cuboid, rectangular cushions are particularly popular as a heel seat. Often these are multifunctional yoga cushions. You should make sure that your body weight rests on the pillow and not on your lower legs or heels. Then longer sessions are also possible.

❌Not suitable for the cross-legged seat.

Meditation Chair

✅ There are meditation chairs that look like a floor cushion with a backrest. However, a rest for the upper part of the back is only of limited use in meditation. A natural body balance and posture of the spine, which is based on the skeleton, in which the body feels naturally centered, stable and relaxed, is only possible to a limited extent. However, the meditation chair can be a really good solution for people with back or hip problems.

❌The meditation with a backrest is more of a compromise for people who cannot sit well without a backrest. It definitely has advantages if the spine is balanced in a natural, free posture in its function as an inner communication path.

Ergonomic Multi-Chamber Meditation Cushion SNUG

✅ The new multi-chamber meditation cushion SNUG was developed with the aim of eliminating the weaknesses of traditional meditation cushions and significantly improving the seating ergonomics. Proper pelvic tilt and lower back [coccyx] support is required for a healthy cross-legged, upright meditation seat. The adjustment of the individual seat height and the even placement of the thighs down to the floor are further features that lead to seating comfort and good seating ergonomics. SNUG offers optimal body stabilization for a comfortable and pain-free fit. Particularly suitable for longer sessions and retreats.

❌ Rather not suitable for the heel seat.

Also consider whether you would like to have a meditation mat

as a base for the meditation cushion.

Finally, a tip for those of you who want to sit longer: small pillows, towels or sponges

are often helpful. They can be used very well for targeted relief [usually in the upper, lower leg and foot areas] where it hurts.

meditation is mindhack no.1 • go practice • it's worth it • every minute counts

Meditation is [often] not fun in the beginning

Meditation macht am Anfang [oft] keinen Spaß

We are used to follow our thoughts, just as they come up.

Now, sitting down on our meditation cushion – trying to focus on the breath sensations - thoughts are hijacking our mind, often before we even have the chance to notice them:

“I need to make the laundry…why am I doing this...this is ridiculous…I should use my time better than this way …why did she say this to me.” and so on.

Next we notice the thought [distraction] and redirect our attention to the breath. And again, thoughts are hijacking us...and so on.

The mind is used to be busy the whole day long, from standing up in the morning until we go to bed, our mind is busy talking to us all day.

The mind is simply not used to being quiet.

It is a habitual behaviour which we have established for many years.

And we know very well what happens, if we try to change well established habits.

When we are trying to make a diet, to stop smoking or to establish a daily jogging routine – our mind-body is very good in convincing us pretty soon, that this change of habit is not a good idea.

Changing habits is very energy consuming. It is demanding. If we really, really want it, we need tons of self-discipline to push through, overcome internal resistance and to keep hanging on to it.

It’s the same when we are sitting down on our meditation cushion, trying to establish a daily routine.

It’s not a walk in the park.

Nearly everybody who starts with meditation has to face a hard time in the beginning.

Such is the nature of the untrained mind.

When you are trying to change a well-established habit, your mind-body does not like changes and will try everything to convince you to go back to the old habit.

But guess what.

Actually, this is good news.

Because as soon as you sit down on your meditation cushion and start do direct you attention, you are already working on literally changing some of your brain networks in density and structure. Just as it is with muscles, your mental abilities become stronger, when they are subject to active usage.

Your brain changes especially, when you do something that takes you out of your comfort zone. So, stop complaining “that's not for me” or “I can’t do this”. The same minute you sit down on your meditation cushion for practice, changes are already working in your favor.

This is, why every meditation is a good meditation. Even the ones, where you feel bad and you think nothing is working at all.

Considerable effort is what makes the brain learn, grow and transform itself plastically.

Now, what exactly are you learning in this situation?

You are learning a couple of highly valuable sub-skills.

Observing your own thoughts is actually a skill called metacognition, which is a fascinating ability of the human mind. It's a bit like being in two places at the same time. Imagine a basketball game in a sports hall, where you play along and in the same time you watch yourself while playing from the stands.

Metacognition means that we can observe our thoughts and our inner dialogue. Meditation makes us more aware of our inner dialogue.

This helps us to see clear, make better decisions and gain operational control of our minds.

The sub-skills are:

1. Direct your attention to your breath sensations [concentration]

2. Notice Distraction: Become aware of upcoming thoughts [awareness]

3. Re-direct attention to your breath sensations [concentration]

Not to follow your thoughts and feelings but instead re-directing your attention, is going against the stream of you conditioned habitual behavior. This literally changes your brain.

Attentional awareness is a tool to activate or inhibit specific neural networks – leading to structure & density changes in the brain.

This is no woo hoo but scientifically proven and well recognized in science.

It’s called neuroplasticity.

But even more. We take these new skills with us into our daily lives. Because if we have to focus on the job, very similar conditions apply.

As the practice progresses, we can generally concentrate better and are less distracted. In times of multimedia and daily stress of change, this is one of the most valuable skills of all.

So, when you are frustrated sitting down on your meditation cushion because you think “meditation does not work for me”,when it almost drives you crazy to stay seated, when you feel tortured by so many thoughts coming up during meditation, you can imagine “this is the very best time for change”.

Knowing, that you are right now in this very moment literally changing your brain for the better, you are rating an uncomfortable situation positively – a little trick that often helps.

As long, as you stay seated on your meditation cushion and you don’t give in the impulse to get up.

When you learn to manage and direct your focus - especially in difficult situations - you can improve virtually every aspect in your life.

Moreover, this practice prevents from limbic hijack of your emotions because it activates the executive functions of your brain [the prefrontal cortex - amongst others]. So, pay attention to whatever triggers unwanted emotional reactions from you.

Your triggers reveal the spot, where meditation can help to step out.

Selfcontrol starts in the small awareness gap between stimulus and response.

Sit down and practice on your meditation cushion every day. Every minute counts. It's worth it.

meditation is mindhack no.1

Disclaimer: While meditation generally is safe, deeper meditation should be learned with a qualified teacher. These instructions are not a substitute for medical or psychological treatment. If you have had major fears, depression or other psychological issues in the past, please consult your therapist or doctor before applying deeper meditation practices.

Just like snorting a line of coke..

Mal eben eine Linie durchziehen..

We can hardly stand it when the wifi or smartphone goes down, when we need to be idle or alone. New media serves us with a very, very easily accessible distraction. Just check Whatsapp, football results or shopping promotions .... is just like snorting a line of coke.

The modern way of life of fast-paced life, multitasking and great variety of choice are ultimately attention-exhausting stressors, which we literally "pay" with attention.

When the attention is exhausted, we are “scattered or dissolved”. Afterwards, we "recollect" ourself again. The ability to focus attention is decreasing and currently seems to be threatened with extinction.

In order to understand how we got into this situation, it helps if we look at our ability for self-control or self-regulation. This refers to our ability to actively and consciously control attention, emotions, impulses and actions - instead of being driven by everyday life, habits, addictions and other [supposed] constraints.

Our attention works like a spotlight, focusing on what we allow to enter our consciousness. We can decide whether we are looking to the left or to the right, which topics we are dealing with, whether we are binge watching TV or learning something.

It is also called selective attention, the selection of [objects], which we want to experience, what we allow to enter our consciousness, our awareness and what not.

Attention is an energy that is under our control.

Depending on quality and ability to control our attention in this way, we move between total helplessness and happiness.

The relationship between self-controlled attention and quality of life has been researched by the world-famous psychologist and flow pope Prof. Mihály Csíkszentmihályi:

"The control of consciousness determines the quality of life. In order to develop this quality, one has to find ways to organize one's consciousness in such a way that one can control one's emotions and thoughts. Therefore, the information we put into consciousness becomes extremely important; after all, it is about the content and quality of our lives.”

If the lack of self-determined attention is overwhelming, it can even lead to pathological development. Following, psychiatric clinics also take care of people whose serious lack of self-determined attention makes them downright disabled.

On the other hand, attentive awareness can first lead to inner peace, then to flow and ultimately to lasting joy. Flow is a feeling of highly concentrated sinking in an activity. A high concentration on a limited field allows you to dive deep into an activity.

Breath meditation is [amongst others] an attention training. We practice over and over again - and thereby free ourself from bad conditioning, rumination and suggestibility - from high-level distractibility.

This works by means of neuroplasticity of the brain, the ability of the brain to adapt to exercise. Just as we can strengthen a muscle through sport, our mental muscle trains our mental processes.

This works by means of neuroplasticity of the brain, the ability of the brain to adapt to exercise. Just as we can strengthen a muscle or a pattern through sport or playing the piano, our mental activities train our mental processes.

Sit down and practice on your meditation cushion every day. Every minute counts. It's worth it.

meditation is mindhack no. 1

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