Meditation is quickly growing in popularity as people are learning the benefits of mindfulness, being in the present, and deep breathing. A half-hour at the start of any day in meditation can make the rest of your day go by more smoothly. There are many benefits to meditation, so it only stands to reason that there are benefits to using a meditation pillow, right.
Using a meditation pillow has several possible benefits that you can experience. These include extended meditation times, less physical distress, as well as a visual cue to remind you to meditate. Using a meditation cushion also allows you to have better posture and increased blood circulation.
This article will explore the benefits of using a meditation pillow and how to use these cushions properly. We’ll also explore what mediation is and the different types there are. Find out if you really need a pillow and how to use it properly so that you can reap the benefits.
What Is Meditation?
Meditation is the practice of focusing the mind on an object, thought, or specific activity. It is being in the moment and training your attention to achieve both mental and physical calmness and stability. Meditation is often practiced while seated, though few meditation types require to lay down (for example, Yoga Nidra meditation).
The idea of meditation is not to become a different person or even a better person; it is more about becoming aware. The practice of daily meditation is to help you gain a healthy perspective without ignoring how you feel or what your thoughts are.
Through meditation, you will learn how to observe your thoughts, feelings, and sensations without judging them. It is merely an acknowledgment of who you are to gain a better understanding of yourself and your circumstances. A fresh outlook is the main goal.
Types of Meditation
There are six primary types of mediation that the majority of people practice regularly. Most people stay with one type of meditation during their practice, but then there are others who like to combine a few types (for example, adding Metta meditation once in a while). The most known and practiced types of meditation are:
- Mindfulness meditation. Paying attention to your thoughts as they pass through your mind and being acutely aware of the moment.
- Spiritual meditation. The use of essential oils to help seek a deeper connection with a deity of your choosing or the universe. It recognizes that you are part of the bigger picture.
- Focused meditation. Involves the use of your senses for a more in-depth experience. The idea is to open up your awareness through your senses and thus achieving a deeper connection to that which is around you.
- Movement meditation. Though yoga is part of it, this type of meditation can be done while walking, running, gardening, or any kind of smooth movement. This meditation keeps you in the moment of what you are doing. It focuses on the movement, feeling the fluidity of your body, and how special that is.
- Mantra meditation. Mantra is often focused on words or sounds that are repeated during meditation. The most commonly used mantras that enhance the stillness of the mind are “om,” “omnamashivaja,” “I am peace,” and “I am light.” However, you can come up with your own phrases and words that you can use. Some like to use mantras in their mother tongue, which is also possible.
- Transcendental meditation. Transformative meditation that is often studied scientifically. This is the transformation of your physical to your spiritual self. It’s like removing the physical and feeling the spiritual more in-depth.
- Metta, or Loving Kindness meditation. During the practice of this type of meditation, love is sent to all living beings starting from yourself, your family members and expanding further and broader.
- Guided meditation. Guided meditations are perfect for beginners, but experienced meditators also love them because of their variety. There is a voice guiding a person through the entire session by providing explicit instructions on when and where to move the attention.
Most of these types of meditation can be practiced with the aid of a meditation cushion.
What Is a Meditation Pillow?
You may understand that a pillow is something to consider if you engage in meditation, but what really is a meditation pillow? These pillows are designed specifically for anyone who practices meditation. The cushion will help to elevate your pelvis while putting your hips above your knees. The ergonomic design of these pillows helps to align your spine.
The idea of the meditation pillow is to sit in a position that allows for proper blood flow through all your limbs. You can reap the many benefits of meditation when you use a meditation pillow during your sessions.
Even if you do not practice meditation often, your meditation pillow can always be used as a floor cushion to keep your spine aligned and lower back rested.
Why Is It Important?
Your body is uniquely shaped, and it needs to be supported according to your shape. Since sitting in modern chairs is not a natural position for humans, it can cause stress on joints and limbs that are painful.
Sitting on the ground for extended periods can cause your shoulders, hips, and spine to become misaligned. Having misalignments can be uncomfortable as well as challenging to rectify. Using a meditation pillow can help you prevent this misalignment from happening.
You will recognize a misalignment by the discomfort you feel, even when relaxed. It will radiate like pain or as something that doesn’t seem right.
There are many reasons why you want to use a meditation pillow when engaging in spiritual practice, like meditation. Since seated meditation is the most common way to meditate, using a meditation pillow is not such a bad idea.
The benefits of using a meditation pillow are numerous. Most of the benefits will overlap with each other. Therefore, if you use a meditation pillow, you are likely not just to experience one benefit, but most of them at the same time. Have a look at how a meditation cushion works to your advantage.
Using a meditation pillow is a way that you can increase your comfort levels. Sitting on the floor can be grueling, even more so when you sit in a meditative pose. Sitting cross-legged on the floor is the most common pose for engaging in meditation.
While on the floor, if you have a cushion to sit on, it can increase your comfort levels. The idea of the pillow is to raise you up enough to decrease any painful sensations. Additionally, when it is cold, you can use the pillow to insulate you against the frigid floor.
The extra height gained by meditation pillows allows you to be more stable. Since you probably do not have the most flexible hips, a zafu (pillow for meditation) can help you to work different leg positions into your practice.
A half-lotus position is a common meditative stance, and it is best done with the stability of a pillow. With added stability that helps with opening and raising your hips, you can achieve different positions.
Increased stability is also achieved in child pose or in an arched back pose. Both of these poses require a certain level of bending, and the cushion will keep you stable and provide added comfort.
Longer Meditation Times
A meditation pillow is designed with meditation in mind. These pillows are filled with the types of things you find in your standard pillows for your head. Actually, most meditation pillows are filled with firmer stuffing materials to help lighten the pressure on your knees and ankles when in meditation.
The filling of these pillows helps you to align your hips under your back so that you sit in proper posture. The comfort of this position enables you to sit for extended periods without experiencing the typical types of pain you would otherwise experience.
Being more comfortable as you meditate also helps you to maintain your meditation position for longer. If you are focused on wanting to achieve a certain amount of time in meditation, a cushion will help you achieve that.
A meditation pillow is a great way to stay focused. The seated position helps to keep your spine straight, which helps to keep your mind alert. Meditation can be intensely relaxing, and thus, many find they fall asleep while meditating. A pillow will help you stay focused and less sleepy while you are meditating.
Sitting on a cushion or using it as a meditative prop is a cue to your body to remain focused on the task at hand. It is a tool to help you maintain your position while focusing on your meditation. No matter what type of meditative practice you choose, a cushion will help you achieve your desired results.
If you are the type who loves to meditate daily, no matter what, you want your meditation practice to be portable. Meditation pillows are a piece of equipment that is highly portable. If you travel or like to go outdoors to meditate, your pillow can go with you.
Since there are many types of meditation cushions, you can find one that will be portable. Having a pillow that is easy to bring with you opens up your possibilities. You no longer only need to meditate at home.
A portable meditation cushion is going to have a handle built into the lining. Though you can carry any meditation pillow with you, using one specifically for transporting has the added benefit of the convenient handle.
Optimal Blood Flow
As stated above, using meditation pillows helps to prevent misalignments in your body. When your hips, knees, and spine are in the proper position, it optimizes blood flow. Through the use of a meditation cushion, you can achieve the optimal meditative position for increased blood flow.
There are many benefits that come with increased blood flow that include clarity of mind and alertness. Achieving proper blood flow is crucial to meditation as it opens your mind and physical sensations to accept the meditation. When you have poor circulation, you cannot engage your whole body without interference.
Meditation cushions are not just useful for meditation. They have an array of different uses. Since meditation and yoga go hand in hand, it only stands to reason that the cushion used for meditation can also be used as a yoga prop.
The meditation cushion can be used as a bolster to sit on when on the ground or even as a decorative piece since most are colorful. You do not have to use your meditation cushion solely for meditative purposes. You can even use your pillow as a pillow. Some people find that meditation cushions are more comfortable.
A Visual Cue
Some people find it hard to focus or to develop a routine of meditation. Using a cushion for your routine can be a visual cue to help you get in the mood for meditation. If you use your cushion to decorate a special place in your home, specifically for meditation, then taking out the cushion will trigger your mind that it is time to meditate.
You can also place your meditation cushions in a specific spot in your home that you want to be your meditation corner. Having your cushion and space set up is a pivotal reminder to get your meditation done. Generally, it’s so easy to remove things to make more time in a day, and having this cue will keep you focused.
Types of Meditation Cushions
Different types of meditation cushions serve different purposes. Which cushion you choose is highly subjective to your preferences.
- omigo – Keeping your spine in a healthy S-shape is very important, whether you are meditating or not. This new shape meditation cushion became popular as a floor cushion for a good reason. Besides looking beautiful and stylish in every space, the shape of the pillow (reminding of a slope) keeps the spine aligned, whether you sit down for meditation, play with the kids, or socialize with your friends.
- Zafu – This is a round cushion that is filled typically with buckwheat hulls or kapok fiber. These materials are very flexible, and they will contour to your body. This type of cushion is generally used for seated, cross-legged, or kneeling meditation.
- Gomden – These are rectangular cushions that are better for elevation. Gomden cushions allow you to sit cross-legged without your knees touching the ground the way they would on a Zafu cushion. Furthermore, this cushion is also suitable for when you are doing arched back meditation or need added support for movement meditation.
- Zabuton – This cushion is characterized by being long and flat. They are square pillows that are often used with Zafu cushions. Most times, this cushion is an add-on to another type of cushion. However, it can be used for child pose or simple cross-legged meditation. This is also the right pillow for yoga.
How to Choose a Meditation Cushion
When picking a meditation pillow, there are many considerations because it is not a one size fits all type of analogy. The pillow you use is for your comfort and not anyone else.
Picking a meditation cushion is going to be determined by your meditation posture. Do you see yourself sitting cross-legged on the floor? Or do you want to sit on a firm cushion as though you are kneeling? If you haven’t meditated before and are just beginning, you want to test out various postures to find that one that speaks to you.
Whichever posture you choose, you want to ensure that your back is straight, your spine is aligned, you are seated stably, and that you are comfortable. Every aspect of your meditation posture should lead to your blood flowing smoothly, the air you breathe coming in and out seamlessly, and you’re at peace.
Once you determine your posture, you can find the meditation cushion that is best suited to that posture.
It cannot be said enough, but your comfort during meditation is crucial. It would help if you had a comfortable meditation cushion so that you will be motivated to meditate regularly. If it is uncomfortable, you will not be focused on anything else.
If sitting cross-legged is not your preference, then Seiza probably is. This type of sitting involves kneeling with a cushion under you to support you. No matter what position you choose for meditation, you want to ensure that the cushion you buy is going to add to your comfort while not putting extra stress on your knees, back or legs.
There is a large variety of materials used to make meditation cushions. The type of cushion you choose primarily determines the type of material the cushion is made up of.
The most common types of materials are:
- Kapok fiber is generally a heavier material that is used in firm cushions. It is a natural type of cottony material that comes from the tropics’ trees and is suitable for holding your body steady. However, if you get a cushion that is made of low-quality kapok fiber, then there can be issues with clumping.
- Buckwheat hulls are much more massive than other materials. This material is a popular choice for at-home meditation pillows and is often used in corner meditation spots. These hulls contour to meet your body’s natural curves and adapt to your posture. However, they will not hold their shape.
- Wool is generally durable and very lightweight. Wool cushions are very portable, as they are incredibly comfortable. These are not firm pillows and can be considered too soft if what you are after is firm support. Wool meditation cushions are an excellent choice for supporting blood circulation and are often the recommendation of experts.
- Cotton and polyester are generally used for the exterior materials of the cushion and have little or nothing to do with the durability or the firmness of the cushion. Cotton is lighter and more breathable than polyester, but really it comes down to personal preference.
The height of the cushion is going to determine how far off the ground you sit. The height is going to be important for your comfort, depending on which position you choose to sit in. However, some cushions naturally are higher than others. Kapok Fiber and Buckwheat hulls are generally firmer and loftier cushions than other types of materials.
The height is essential when it comes to alignment and posture. You need to be able to sit comfortably without any kinks in your position. Proper pillow height will help with reducing pain for prolonged periods of meditation.
There are many different price ranges that meditation cushions come in. There are high-end ones that will run with a hefty price tag, but others that are on the cheaper side. Whatever your price range is, you are sure to find a pillow that will meet that range.
However, it is advised that if you plan to practice meditation regularly and use your pillow in more than one way, then at the very least, you want a mid-range pillow. Pick a cushion that is going to last you and is made with quality materials that will not bunch up or clump, rendering your pillow useless.
The idea of meditation is to find Zen. You want to achieve peace through meditation, and thus, you do not want a pillow that is going to be loud or be in a color you do not like. Many cushions come with lovely designs, and others come in simple solid colors.
Choose your cushion based on what will bring you peace and calmness at the moment. If you do not like specific colors, make sure to avoid them. The color will matter when what you are trying to achieve is peace.
Is a Meditation Cushion Necessary?
It’s a valid question to wonder if you really need a meditation cushion. That is especially true when you are only meditating for short periods of time every day. Yes, a cushion is necessary because of the many benefits listed above that a cushion provides.
Having a meditation cushion helps with posture, blood circulation, pain in the limbs, and much more. Whether you meditate for short or long periods, having a meditation cushion can only help you. Plus, they are nice to have.
How to Use a Meditation Cushion
If you are just getting going in meditation, you may not be sure exactly how to use your cushion. Using it properly is key to reaping the benefits that your pillow can provide. There are five key ways to use a meditation cushion.
Kneeling is a common meditation pose, but it can lead to pain, numbness, and tingling in your legs and joints without proper support. Placing your cushion between your knees as you kneel will help relieve the pressure from your joints. This will help you achieve proper posture as well as increase your comfort levels.
Half Lotus or Quarter Lotus
Since these poses are easier on your joints than a full lotus position, it is easier on your knees. Using a cushion to sit on while you gently place your ankles on the opposite calf is made more accessible with a cushion under you to help widen your hips.
Cross-legged is one of the most common and straightforward poses for meditation. A simple cross-legged position is minimal straining on joints while stretching out knees and hips. A cushion will help you to keep from rounding your back so that your spine stays aligned. Plus, it will keep your feet from falling asleep.
This pose is not a typical pose and not a seated one. This pose is designed to help open up your chest and ribcage for deeper breathing during meditation. It is also a great way to help relieve any tenderness, aching, or muscle tension in the back.
Simply place your meditation cushion behind you and from a cross-legged position, lower your back until the cushion is supporting the middle of your back, and your head is resting on the ground.
Child Pose or Balasana
A child’s pose is a favorite for many. This pose starts on your knees, and you bend your body forward. Use the cushion as a pillow for your head. You will feel the tension in your body melt away with this pose as it stretches your thighs, hips, and back.
Verdict: Meditation Cushions Benefit You
There are many benefits that come with using a meditation cushion when you choose to meditate. The ability to sit for longer or even just be reminded of your daily meditation is only part of the benefits.
The physical benefits are numerous to include increased blood flow, proper spine alignment, the opening of joints as well as reduced pain in the body. However, the mental benefits are just as crucial; you can focus more, achieve longer meditative times, and even feel more relaxed.
Overall, a good meditation cushion is something you want to consider if you haven’t already because there is no risk, and the benefits are worthwhile.
Choosing a meditation cushion that will suit your needs is going to take some time and patience. If you already know what type of meditation you prefer, then you are halfway there. However, if you are learning about meditation and are not quite sure which meditative practice you prefer, then you need to figure that out.
The cushion you choose and the benefits it will provide you depend significantly on what type of meditation you intend to engage in regularly. If you plan to mix up your meditative practices among different types, then you need to find a universal cushion or own more than one.
No matter what you choose, you cannot go wrong with getting a meditation cushion. There are so many benefits just waiting for you to reap.