In the course of my eight years of meditation practice, I have tested various types of cushions to sit on, which all affect the mind in their specific way. The influence they assert becomes the critical factor that determinates whether the session will turn out to be successful or not.
The simplest thing you can do is to just sit on a sofa, and do a meditation that way. What I am speaking about in this article is the more sophisticated approaches of doing your meditation, which will enable you to experience it with more sharpness.
Before we take a look at the choices of the seating surfaces, I would like to point out the seating positions that I use. The first one is the setup, where you sit down and cross your shins, then ending up looking like the statue of the Buddha. It differs from the lotus and half-lotus position because you are leaving both of your ankles resting on the ground.
The second position is sitting with your feet in front of you, and having the knees raised to the height of your chest. To set yourself into a comfortable post you can interlock your fingers on the front side of the knees, and pull your torso slowly forward.
I also use in both sitting positions the clothes chest as a back support onto which I can rest my back against. All in all, this makes up four seating positions that I cycle between in a spontaneous manner. I have found these settings to be the best, which I get into while sitting on the floor.
Caution: do not sit with your back resting on a cold wall because it can give you back pain, and drain your adrenal strength that is sourced from the top of your kidneys.
The cushion choices
- During my meditation practice I have tried sitting on a soft sofa or a bed, while placing my feet in front of me, or holding them in a cross-legged position. What I discovered is that the soft settings distract your concentration because you are floating around slowly, and I believe that it keeps the balance center of the brain active, which leaches mental energy and keeps your mind from becoming energized and still.
- After this realization I tried the opposite take, which was sitting on a hard cushion – a thin rug or even on corrugated cardboard. Those worked well in order to shut down the balance center of the brain, and they enabled me to get catapulted into a state of locked-in concentration. That was great, but the harder surfaces had the downside of creating the sensation of discomfort more quickly, which forces you to shift your seating positions periodically, or else the buttocks will start to throw off sparks. This in turn weakens the concentration as you start to come to the point of pain. Another problem that arises, when you choose a seating cushion that is too thin, is that the ankles will also start to feel painful.
- The third surface I have tried is medium in terms of softness: it is a rug that is a half an inch or 1.5 centimeters thick. It works perfectly, as you can maintain any of your seating positions longer because the discomfort in the ankles and the buttocks happens only after an extended sitting period.
In this article, I do not mention meditating while sitting on a hard stool with or without the backrest because in my experience they are not that conductive to a successful meditation session. I also did not speak about the specialized little wooden bench, or the soft meditation seat that was in the Tron movie because I have not tested them.
Reaching deep meditation
Aside from the right choice of meditation positions and cushion, here follow the other key points that enable you to get into deep meditation:
- To recap – the first factor was the right setup – the kind of cushion you sit on.
- The second factor is about how your body is prepared. I have found that you can take out the internal noise of the body with a session of full body self-massage and stretching.
- The third factor concerns your skill level – the amount of practice time you have gotten under your belt, and if you have found a working technique for yourself that is able to tune your mind into a tranquil state.
In conclusion, out of the 3 cushions: the soft, hard and medium – the later works best because in either extreme, there are effects that disturb or break your concentration.