Category: Zen

The Making of a Rakusu

Many weeks in our Vashon Island workshop, Lidunn handcrafts beautiful rakusu. In this case from a few years back, she re-purposed a Japanese obi into a custom rakusu for a customer. A shortened version of Buddha’s robe, the rakusu is a symbolic garment worn by Buddhist practitioners. Its form has evolved over centuries, incorporating elements from various traditions as it’s made its way across geography and time.
Buddhist Rakusu Sewing process

History

Each element of the rakusu has a story. The many individual panels recall robes in Buddha’s time, when mendicants scavenged used pieces of fabric, even burial cloth, to make their clothing. The straight lines and right angles resemble cultivated fields, and the wooden ring is a nod to how Chinese monks fastened their robes to keep their arms free for physical labor. Today’s rakusu is most visibly linked to the Zen traditions from Japan.
Making a rakusu process

Modern Use

Buddhist practitioners may begin wearing a rakusu to mark a milestone, such as receiving the precepts in a ceremony called jukai, or becoming a teacher. One’s lineage can inform certain aspects of the rakusu: Rinzai and Soto traditions each determine the number of strips of cloth, the pattern, and the color of the back panel. After receiving the rakusu, it becomes part of the ordained Buddhist’s robes, serving as a tactile reminder of one’s lineage and devotion.
Some practitioners sew their own rakusu, perhaps taking weeks to complete the task. They may also choose to request help from a seamstress experienced in crafting Buddhist garments, like Lidunn.

Process

How to make a Buddhist rakusu shown on tableLidunn started work on this obi by looking closely at the fabric’s print, color, and texture to see what patterns emerged organically, and how to make it fit the traditional Rinzai layout. Next, she cut the fabric into individual pieces and ironed. Her advice to practitioners doing it themselves? “Always iron. It makes life so much easier.”
Once each piece was set according to pattern, Lidunn sewed them into place. It’s meticulous, challenging work, each rakusu a puzzle to be solved. “It requires precision. And working with a fabric like this is very special.”

Lidunn made her first rakusu for her own ordination at Mt. Baldy Zen Center in 1999. Since then, she has made countless rakusu for practitioners all over the world.

Rakusu Finished from custom floral fabric for Buddhist clergy
At Still Sitting, we make each rakusu individually, so practitioners may choose one of our fabrics, or send in a fabric or a ring of their choosing. For more information, write to us at office@stillsitting.com

The Sleepy Sit: Staying Awake While Meditating

meditate with tea

Staying Awake While Meditating

When we lived in a Zen Center we started the day at 4 a.m. with a pucker-inducing dose of hot lemon tea, followed by almost an hour of chanting. Both tea and chanting helped keep everyone awake while meditating.
Monks and nuns of all types get up before dawn to meditate and pray. And for millennia they have come up with ways to work with drowsiness and stay awake while sitting for long periods of time.
The truth is, when you’re doing a lot of meditation, you don’t seem to need as much sleep. Those of you who have done a multi-day retreat know that the early wake up becomes easier after a few days. That’s in large part because you’re spending your days in meditation. However, that doesn’t mean there won’t be times when you’ll struggle to stay awake or even doze off completely.
Caffeine has been used to help meditators for a very long time. Bodhidharma, the 5th century monk, is credited with the first instance of green tea growing in China.

Bodhidharma

Bodhidharma

Bodhidharma

Bodhidharma is thought to have brought Zen to China in the 5th or 6th century. For nine years he sat, meditating, near a cave. It is said that one time he fell asleep while sitting and became so fed up with his sleepiness that he cut off his eyelids to prevent himself from falling asleep. He threw his eyelids on the ground outside the cave and this is where the first green tea plants sprung up. To this day Bodhidharma is the patron saint of tea in Japan.

Tips to Help Staying Awake While Meditating

Over the years, we’ve noticed a few ways to help with drowsiness while sitting in meditation.
1. Caffeine can be helpful in moderation. Yet, it can also send your thinking mind go off to the races, so we recommend using it with care while sitting.
2. Another thing to watch for is the temperature of the room – there’s a reason Zen halls are kept cool. It may help to open a window and let in some fresh air.
3. A short walk (kinhin) outside can be refreshing and provide energy to come back to the cushion.
4. A quick nap!
We feel that sometimes it’s important to work against sleep, yet sometimes you have to give a little ground. Dozing a little may make it a lot easier to come back strong.  Sometimes a sleepy sit makes way for a wakeful one.
There are a lot of ways to work with drowsiness – we hope you find your way to a clear and awake state of mind.

The mind is the root from which all things grow if you can understand the mind, everything else is included.

                                   ~ Bodhidharma

A Buddha is someone who finds freedom in good fortune and bad.

                                  ~ Bodhidharma

Create Your Meditation Space

meditation space with meditation zafus, zabutons and dog

A Longtime Customer’s Meditation Space (and sweet dog)

To sit still you need at minimum a couple of things: time and space. We recommend you take time for your meditation practice, and also that you think a little about the space. Do you have a dedicated meditation space? A little sanctuary you can retire to when you need it? How about a clear corner of your bedroom floor? We’ve put together a few ideas to help you create your meditation space.

Your Meditation Space

Some of you may have a dedicated room or part of a room for your meditation spot. Or maybe you pull the zabuton and zafu from a closet to create a temporary sanctuary. The nice thing about a zabuton is that it defines a kind of sacred space for the moment, and cues you to settle down for the next few minutes. This is true whether you have it sitting out all the time or bring it out just when you meditate.
Many people enjoy incorporating an altar or some symbolic statues or other meaningful items in their meditation space. This could be as simple as a small Buddha statue or precious stone or as elaborate as a large altar or framed image.
There are other ways to create a meditation space by using incense, lighting a candle or ringing a bell to signify and sort of announce the intention of the space.

Where to Sit

The good news is you can make any space work. When sitting it does help to have a fairly clean place. There’s a reason Zen halls are kept clean.  It’s also helpful to have it relatively quiet, especially when it comes to human voices. Other noise, be it birds or traffic, can more easily become part of your meditation. Whatever your situation, we urge you not to let your available space stop you.

Tips to Enhance your Meditation Space:

  • Keep your meditation area as clean and clear of clutter as you can. This is true whether it is a dedicated room or a temporary spot on the floor.
  • If you are storing your cushions and creating a temporary space, keep your zabuton and zafu in an easy to access place.
  • Choose a quiet space, away from people and possible distraction. If noise is a problem for you, try a sound machine, or app on your phone to help mask outside voices. Find some kind of white noise you find soothing and put it on low.
  • Create a ritual to mark the meditation time and space, such as lighting a candle or incense. This can help connect you to the space and create a transition between meditation and daily life.
  • If you can create a dedicated space for meditation, definitely do so. An entire room is, of course, wonderful. And we have found that even a corner or small part of a room can also work very well. An altar or small table for your incense and bell is great to have.
  • If you do not have a dedicated space, still keep that area clear when not in use. This way it will not a big chore to bring out your cushions and transform your space.

Happy Sitting!

Samue Clothing

samue potterySamue is the traditional clothing worn during daily work by Japanese Buddhist monks. Samu refers to daily work that is done with mindfulness. This can include any work, such as gardening, cleaning or daily chores.
Samue Clothing
The pieces are typically made from cotton or linen in dark colors, such as brown or navy. The style is unisex with a kimono style jacket and loose fitting pants often with elastic or ties at the waist and ankles. Often there are large pockets in the jackets which can be used for small tools or other useful items.
Over the years, samue have
remained much the same, but many have adopted this style of clothing for use well beyond the Buddhist temple.Samue Pants Chickens
Samue clothing have long been worn as home-wear in Japan and elsewhere. Still as useful for daily work, today samue are also frequently worn as meditation clothing,  during meditation retreats or whenever comfort is a priority. Lately we’ve been hearing from more customers who are looking for samue jackets and pants. meditation samueNothing beats the comfort of loose fitting clothing, especially if you will be sitting for some time.
Still Sitting Samue Clothing
Our traditional samue jackets are made from a thick lush cotton, and will last for many years. We recently started also making lighter weight cotton samue jackets and pants. These are perfect for summer or warmer climates or anytime a lighter weight is preferable. You can take a look at our samue options here.
We love hearing from customers about how they are using samue clothing in their meditation practice or daily work. Let us know about your experience with samue clothing.
 

The Benefits of Breathing Deeply

Big Belly BuddhaBreathe in, breathe out. You can’t help it of course, but you can bring consciousness to it -– and that in turn changes your breathing.  Breathing is one of the few activities that we do unconsciously but that we can affect consciously. Meditation can change the quality of our breathing, and breathing deeply can change the way we walk through life.

Breathing Deeply in Meditation

We generally recommend you breathe naturally in meditation. When meditating you may notice your breathing drop, from your chest to your belly. We suggest you notice this, and encourage it. By breathing from your belly you use the lowest part of your lungs, where the highest density of blood vessels live, bringing the most oxygen to your cells. Sitting up straight with good posture is helpful for this as well.

The Benefits of Breathing Deeply

When we breathe deeply, the hormones that create our fight or flight response naturally decrease, and our relaxation response (also called the parasympathetic response) eases in.
And there’s more. When you spend time breathing more deeply, you increase what doctors call your heart rate variability. This is the difference between your heart rate when inhaling and exhaling. In stress mode this variability goes down. Children naturally have high variability, but this drops off as we get older. Studies have shown that high heart rate variability is very good for your health. Heart attacks, anxiety, difficulty sleeping all decrease, as well as overall mortality rates. We have a doctor friend who uses meditation and biofeedback to effectively increase this variability to benefit her patients.
Just another reason to use our cushions regularly. Are you still breathing? We hope so.
You may be interested in our other sitting tips on posture, setting up your foundation and starting a new practice.

The Gift of Lovingkindness Meditation

Still Sitting Meditation SupplyLovingkindness meditation is a way of offering friendly kindness to yourself, to others or to the world.
Lovingkindness is based on Buddhist teachings that emphasize compassion, love and kindness. This is also be referred to as Metta meditation. In Lovingkindness meditation, there are phrases to repeat to yourself throughout the meditation.  The phrases below are taken from Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation by meditation teacher, Sharon Salzberg. It is a book that we often recommend for those looking to start or restart a meditation practice. For our review of this book, please take a look at this post.

How to Practice Lovingkindness Meditation

In this practice, phrases are repeated to oneself. Depending on which resource you follow, these may vary somewhat, but the general feeling is the same. The phrases are intended to ground you in offering feelings of love, compassion and kindness.

May I be safe, may I be happy, may I be healthy, may I live with ease.

Or if you are focusing on someone else:

May you be safe, may you be happy, may you be healthy, may you live with ease.

You can start by setting a timer for 10 – 20 minutes, sitting comfortably, with a straight spine, and silently repeating the phrases to yourself at a relaxed pace. If you are short on time, start with just 5 minutes. In lovingkindness meditation the repetition of the phrases is the anchor, rather than the breath.

Resources for Lovingkindness Meditation

Many meditation teachers and authors have guided meditations available online to either guide you or provide further information. Below is an audio from Sharon Salzberg to get you started. Of course, there are so many others out there, it might take a few tries to find one that resonates with you.

Here is an example of a way to use lovingkindness in your daily activities from a video project Salzberg developed called Street Lovingkindness:

The above video is an example of how once we are fluent in the phrases and feelings to evoke, even sitting still is not required. Whether sitting on your cushion at home or standing in line at the grocery store, offering lovingkindness to yourself and those around you can be a powerful practice.

A Look at the Earliest Buddhist Statues

This guest post by Robert Cain takes us on a tour of some of the earliest historical instances of Buddhist sculpture. 

The Buddha at Daibutsu is one of the largest in Japan.


Sculpture is the visual art form most closely identified with Buddhism. The types of Buddhist statues that we see today took time to develop, and changed significantly along the way. This post will highlight some of the earliest portrayals of the Buddha and Buddhism in sculptural form around the world.

India

Footprint of Buddha, 1st Century


Following the Buddha’s death around 400 BCE, the earliest portrayals of his presence were symbolic—footprints, a vacated seat, or an empty space beneath a parasol. An early Buddhist expression that paved the way for the later statues was the stupa, a large hemispherical mound housing relics.
The Stupa
Stupas became central features of Buddhist monasteries, attracting veneration from monks and pilgrims. At first Indian artists used perishable materials—wood, thatch, brick, and bamboo—to build the structures. Stone was used starting in the first century BCE. The use of stone allowed for the creation of relief carvings that depicted events, both actual and legendary, from the Buddha’s lives (there were thought to be 550 previous incarnations). These carvings were added to gateways and railings, thereby heralding the beginning of Buddhist statuary.

Dhauli Giri Shanti Stupa


In the first century CE the human form began to predominate in Buddhist statues.   Hellenistic art, which come into Gandhara (now northern Afghanistan) in the wake of Alexander the Great’s conquests, greatly influenced the first such representations. Statues of the youthful Buddha might have Apolloesque curls, and a toga-like garment, sometimes covering both shoulders.

A standing Buddha from Ghandara, 1st- 2nd century


Another style emerged in the Andhra Pradesh area of southern India early in the Common Era: a somewhat bulkier Buddha, with a serious, unsmiling face and robe revealing the left shoulder. This style influenced the statues of Sri Lanka, and similar types are found today throughout Southeast Asia.

Gupta Empire Statue


The succeeding period of the Gupta Empire in northern India (320 to 550 CE), saw the creation of an “ideal image,” which combined Greek-inspired elements with more sensual elements from Mathura sculptors. Buddha images had their hair arranged in tiny individual curls, robes had a network of strings to suggest drapery folds or were transparent sheaths. Faces had a downward look and suggested a spiritual aura. These Gupta images became the pattern for future generations.
Bodhisattvas
Over the following centuries a new form of Buddhism emerged, characterized by an expanding pantheon and more elaborate rituals.   The concept arose of heavenly bodhisattvas, as well as goddesses. A key element in Mahayana Buddhism is an emphasis on salvation, which is facilitated by bodhisattvas, compassionate beings who assist mortals in the attainment of enlightenment.  This Buddhism often produced statues not only of the Buddha, but also of a variety of bodhisattvas.

Tibet and Nepal

In Nepal and Tibet, where exquisite metal images and paintings were produced, divinities were created in both sculpture and painted scrolls. Ferocio
us divinities became protectors of Buddhism and its followers. Further theistic elements were introduced and images depicted god and goddess in embrace, as well as the concept that salvation resulted from the union of wisdom (female) and compassion (male).

China

Buddhism may have been known in China as early as the second century BCE. There were centers with foreign monks serving as translators and teachers by the second century CE.  Although statues of Buddha are found in tombs of the second and third centuries, there is little evidence for widespread production and use of images until the fourth century CE. In addition to freestanding sculptures, numerous images were carved in cave temples at various sites. Multiple schools of Buddhism came into being in China from the fourth to the tenth century. These included Pure Land, which stressed devotion and faith as the path to enlightenment and Chan (or Zen), which emphasized mediation and mindfulness in daily activities.
Chinese Buddhist sculptures often illustrate an interplay between China and other Buddhist centers. Works with powerful physiques and thin clothing derive from Indian prototypes, while sculptures featuring thin bodies with thick clothing are in the Chinese style. After Buddhism largely disappeared from India in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, China, along with centers in Korea, Japan, and the Himalayas, became the focal point for the continuing development of practices and imagery.

Korea

Statuary in Korea was not contained in enclosed temple complexes, but rather took the form of large-scale images for public display and worship, as well as statuettes for use in the home. The early styles derived from various Chinese styles. These included the Bakje, with its gentle faces and harmonious proportions, and the Bodhisattva Maitreya with its seated posture, right leg bent over the left and the right hand touching the face. The Tang China (618-906) style, with its round faces, dreamy expressions, and fleshy curvaceous bodies, influenced not only the Buddhist statuary of Korea, but also that of East, Central, and South Asia.
Japan
Buddhism reached Japan from the continent in the mid-sixth century. Artists and builders from China introduced Chinese styles of sculpture and temples into Japan. The splendid temple complex at Nara became the location for the most important examples of early Buddhist art in Japan. As in India, China, and Korea, distinctive styles developed in Japan over the following centuries
The history of the earliest Buddhist sculptural representations is a rich and fascinating world to explore. It is a much bigger topic than can be thoroughly covered in a single post. Hopefully this provides a glimpse into these early developments and perhaps a little context for viewing Buddha statues today. 

Meditation Cushions: Choosing the Right Zabuton

red slim cropped larger
The zabuton is a Japanese sitting cushion. It’s long been used as a meditation cushion in the Zen tradition, and you’ll see it in many places where mindfulness is practiced.
The zabuton is humble yet essential, protecting your knees and ankles from the hard floor. Typically, you place it under your zafu, as such:

zafu and zabuton meditation cushions

round zafu in forest green and zabuton in louts flower


Traditionally, you’ll form a tripod with your seat on the zafu as one point and your knees as the other two points. For more about how to sit comfortably in the tripod position, check out our Sitting Tips. Or check out our guide to choosing the right zafu.
At Still Sitting, our zabutons are made locally using high quality cotton duck fabrics and cotton batting. Each one is finished in our Vashon Island workshop, where we put care into creating cushions that will serve you for years.

How to Choose the Right One?

You’ll notice that our zabutons come in three sizes (small, medium, and large), and two thicknesses (thick and slim). Choose the right size for your body, noting that the small is recommended for people under 5’6″ or if your practice is mostly kneeling; the large is for folks over 6’2″; and the medium is for everyone in between. We find that the medium works for most folks.

Slim or Thick?

Our slim zabuton has about 2″ loft. It provides plenty of support while being easy to carry back and forth to your meditation group or to retreats. It’s also a good option if the surface you sit on is already somewhat soft, for example, if you have carpeting.

slim bali

slim zabuton in bali blue


The thick zabuton has mitered corners to hold even more cotton batting – we pack ours to about 4″ loft. It’s thick, sturdy, and built to last with plenty of cushion for your knees. This zabuton is a good choice for anyone looking for a comfortable seat, as well as those with knee problems and those who sit in a kneeling position. All zabutons will flatten down over time, but this one will continue to offer a lot of cushion, even after frequent use over time.
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thick zabuton in bali blue

Standard or Deluxe?

There’s one last choice in selecting your Still Sitting zabuton – standard or deluxe.
Our deluxe cushions feature removable, machine-washable cushion covers. These are great for cushions that travel, those that get used heavily, or those exposed to pet hair or the stuff of everyday life.
The deluxe option is also a great way to bring a new color to old cushions – our covers fit over all current and vintage Still Sitting zabutons.
The standard option gives you a basic yet high quality meditation cushion. Without the removable cover, you’ll want to simply spot clean these as needed.
We hope you found this guide helpful. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to email, give us a call, or visit us as stillsitting.com.  Our team is here to help you find the perfect meditation cushions for you!
 
Phone: (206) 463-1997 | (800) 433-0977
Email: office@stillsitting.com
Web: www.stillsitting.com

Prison Sangha at Washington State Reformatory

A most gratifying aspect of our work at Still Sitting is creating products that serve people in meditation. We are honored to provide a comfortable seat to anyone engaged in this challenging, quieting work.
We recently had the pleasure of speaking with a community leader who uses our cushions for a very special purpose. Amy Darling is a Seattle-based acupuncturist, herbalist, and mindfulness teacher. Darling, who has been practicing meditation for 20 years, has spent the past 9 years traveling to the Washington State Reformatory (WSR) in Monroe, where she leads a group of prisoners in meditation each month. Darling is one of several Buddhist volunteers who support inmates at WSR.
The sangha is a group of men whose experience with Buddhism is mixed—some grew up with it in the home, others first encountered it as adults. The group meets either inside the WSR chapel or, on dry days, in the garden just outside. The garden is surrounded by chain link fence with hurricane wire running along the top and has designated sections for various faith groups.

“There’s a Gnostic section, a section for Wiccans, for Native American groups, and we are in the center. We get the tree,” Darling says, referencing the tree that was dug up from a crack in the concrete and transplanted by an inmate decades ago.

 
prison
Twice a year, the group conducts all day sesshin in an event known as Buddhafest.
“I hungered to offer the guys a taste of monastic practice in prison, some experience of the training I do at Tahoma One Drop Zen Monastery on Whidbey Island. I wanted them to have a spacious period of silence and time. And they come and they stick it out, 12 hours on linoleum covered concrete; sitting, walking, a bit of Qi Gong to bring ease to the body, meals served right there –DOC issued baked beans and hamburgers.
We asked Darling if there’s an emotional toll to spending all these hours inside the prison.

“I’m filled with awe at the fruits of cultivating the mind that I see with the guys out there. I feel grateful to continue to share time with them. And it’s not an emotional toll, not a net negative, but a net holy cow.”

Darling says members of the prison sangha are on the same journey with meditation as anyone in the general population. She tries to meet them where they are, to bring something concrete, and to assist in cultivating awareness in ways that will be most beneficial to the individual.

“They have the same questions, answers, inquiries, confusion as anywhere—if you’re at a desk in downtown Seattle or if you’re behind bars—it’s the same for anyone starting meditation.”

For those inside, one of meditation’s benefits may be in dissipating anger.
“If they lash out either violently or with speech, they might end up with an infraction or at worst end up in isolation. This is a downward spiral, and for some, such incidences will have a strong impact on their time in prison. For many, finding tools to shift their relationship to/expression of anger is a big one.”
Darling’s own path to meditation began on a cultural immersion program in Nepal in the mid 90s. She immediately appreciated the spirit of inquiry that was folded into Buddhist teachings. When she heard the simple-yet-profound guidance to notice, when you are taking a deep breath, that you are taking a deep breath, and to notice, when you’re taking a shallow breath, that you’re taking a shallow breath, something clicked. She began practicing in the Zen Tradition a year later and has continued.
Her work with the WSR prison sangha is part of a larger devotion to helping others find solace in mediation.

“When I am more aware, I hurt myself and others less, and I believe and have witnessed that goes for all of us. I’d like to contribute peace in this world, this immediate, rather frenzied and constrained, explosively growing urban environment in which I choose to live.

“I have this vision that if we could all — the entire city of Seattle — be quiet together for just five minutes, we would cultivate peace.”

Meditation Cushions: Choosing the Right Zafu

“By establishing a stable base of support, the body naturally comes into alignment with the directional flow of gravity. The deeply purifying process of meditation has no choice but to begin.”

 – Will Johnson, The Posture of Meditation: A Practical Manual for Meditators of All Traditions

Will Johnson’s book on the postures of meditation—one of our favorites—tells us the base of support is the literal foundation of meditation practice. Johnson writes that meditation does not favor one body type over another—meditation is for every body— and finding a comfortable seat is key to developing a practice that you’ll return to day after day.
There are many options for creating your perfect base of support, including zafus, mediation benches and Tibetan seats. In this post, we’ll focus on the zafu.
IMG_2964
History                                                
The zafu originated in China and came to be associated with the Zen traditions of Japan. The word “zafu” speaks to the cushion’s original stuffing—cattails—while the seat itself has had many uses over time. The zafu has secured a place in Zen meditation for its size and shape, which enable optimal alignment of the knees, hips, pelvis, and spine.
Round or Crescent?
If you’d like to try a zafu, you’ll want to choose one of two shapes. The classic shape of a zafu is round, while the crescent shape is a more modern development. Each shape performs the key function of raising your pelvis above your knees.
The classic, round zafu ensures that your pelvis can tilt forward, preserving the natural curve of your spine, and freeing your knees to face downward. From here, your legs can adopt whichever folded position you find most comfortable, and your knees, along with the base of your seat, can support your weight in a tripod.
zafus
The crescent expands this tripod, supporting your weight not only from the base of your seat and your knees, but also through your hips. Practitioners who prefer the crescent zafu report a feeling of greater support through the hips and legs, and a broad, comfy foundation. The crescent may also help those who struggle with legs falling asleep during meditation.
IMG_0041
 
Buckwheat or Kapok?
Once you’ve chosen the shape of your zafu, it’s time to choose a filling. Buckwheat hulls and kapok have long been used to stuff cushions, and each has its own unique properties.
Buckwheat hulls come from one of the oldest cultivated grains in the world—the same buckwheat you might see ground into flour in your pancake mix also provides hulls for cushion stuffing. Buckwheat hulls are a popular filling because they keep cool and keep allergies at bay.
Buckwheat
In zafus, buckwheat acts as a sturdy but malleable support, ready to contour to your body. Most people are familiar with the feel of buckwheat stuffing from bean bags or travel pillows.
Kapok is a lightweight, luminescent fluff that comes from the seed pods of the formidable Ceiba tree. Found in tropical areas, the Ceiba grows spikes on its bark to keep predators away. Fully grown, it can reach a tremendous size, big enough for carving into family-sized canoes.
Kapok
Kapok floats, and has been used as stuffing in life preservers. In the zafu, kapok feels like a firm and buoyant pillow. At Still Sitting, we pack our kapok tightly, offering you maximum lift off the ground. With kapok as well as buckwheat, you have the option of customizing your zafu height by pulling some of the stuffing out.
Buckwheat versus kapok comes down to personal preference, and we stand behind both.
If you are a beginner, however, and asked us to choose, we’d steer you toward kapok. Not only does kapok offer a higher seat, but a softer one as well, which can be important in lessening the pressure on your sitting bones when you’re first starting out.
The kapok zafu also offers an additional seating position: place it on its side and sit with your legs folded on either side in seiza. For more information on sitting positions, check out our tips on How to Sit Comfortably.
Standard or Deluxe?
Once you have a handle on your zafu shape, fill, (and color!), you’ll want to choose between a standard or deluxe. The deluxe offers a removable, machine-washable cover. This makes for easy care over the long-term, and allows you to switch your outer cover to different colors or patterns when you’d like.
If you’d like to discuss these options, please give us a call at 800-433-0977 or email us at office@stillsitting.com. We stuff each of our zafus by hand here in our Vashon Island workshop, and we’d be happy to talk zafus with you!