Most of us, when we think of meditation, envision someone in quiet repose, silent tranquility, cross-legged on a flat, hard surface surrounded by shoji sceens or perhaps somewhere serene such as a dock or beach… or mountain top.
And wouldn’t that be lovely? To find such focus and quiet as to take comfort on a rock?!
Unfortunately, for many of us who attempt to establish a routine of regular meditation, outside of managing the raging, persistent monkey-mind, is the difficulty in finding a position, whether in a chair or on the floor, that allows for adequate comfort so as to better allow for a quieting of the mind.
Cramping knees, a growing nag from the lower back or aching ankle bones, compressed into the floor with their own weight, can easily derail our noble attempts at mental stillness, let alone actually seeing through that ellusive third eye.
At a recent yoga and meditation retreat I was introduced to the wonder of a meditation stool. A small seat perched upon gently arced folding legs, with a deceptively comfortable and tiny cushion securely tied. I was skeptical at first, not really able to imagine how this could be more comfortable than my fleshy bottom or perched upon my knees and a collection of Mexican blankets.
From the instant I positioned myself upon the tiny prop, and rocked lightly to a comfortable angle for my back and pelvis, I was hooked. My knees and ankles, typically resigned to supporting me in one way or another in meditation seemed to breathe a collective sigh of relief as did my hips and groin, able to find rest, really for the first time in my meditation history.
There are other variations of this bench. Many have legs angled, rather than curved, and do not fold. These are certainly a good alternative to the floor, but my preference is to be able to rock to my desired position, which might change from session to session, even moment to moment, rather than be fixed at a particular angle.
Another option, for those who prefer to sit cross-legged (with tight hips it’s not my choice) is a cushion rather than a stool, which allows for better adjustment in the pelvic angle and support, through maneuvering in the stuffing. If I were to go this route, I’d look for a loosely stuffed version to facilitate better, fine-tuned positioning for most comfort.
Regardless which you choose, these props certainly provide for a more physically comfortable experience in meditation. At least offering to take away one distraction.
To those of you with my name in the Christmas draw… bench above would be so muchly appreciated!