Meditation Cushion or Bench: Sitting Basics

sitting in meditation

Your body is the foundation of your meditation practice, and what you sit on plays an important role in supporting this foundation. But, finding a comfortable and stable position to sit in, especially for long periods of time, can be difficult. We understand that everyone’s bodies are different, so we offer a variety of meditation products to help you find comfort and stability in your practice. Whether you value comfort, sturdiness, or portability, you’ll find what you need among our selection of meditation benches and cushions. 

East vs West

While sitting on a cushion is common practice in Asia, it isn’t so much in Western countries. We prefer rigid forms for sitting, like chairs and couches. For this reason, a zafu may not seem intuitive at first. How do you sit on that little stuffed pillow? And once you sit down, how do you get comfortable? While it’s true that sitting on a meditation cushion does require a little finesse at first, it’s not nearly as difficult or impractical as its form might suggest. On the other hand, a bench is more in line with what we think of as something to sit on: it’s rigid and firm. Sitting up straight, with an erect spine, a meditation bench may feel quite natural, besides having to be in a kneeling position. 

Whether you choose a cushion or bench, the end point is the same: creating a firm foundation for your practice. The zafu is the traditional seat in Buddhist practice, but it is not a requirement to investigate meditation. Nor does meditation favor a specific body type — it’s open to everyone; so your seat should reflect that. Ultimately, what works best for you, is what you should be using. Together we’ll delve into the world of meditation benches and zafus, to provide insight into the subtle art of finding the perfect seat for your practice.

Zafu or Meditation Bench

  • Traditional Design
  • Forward Balanced Posture
  • Some flexibility required
  • Variety of colors and sizes available
Meditation Bench
  • Seated kneeling position
  • Less pressure on joints
  • Stable and supportive, but rigid
  • Variety of styles and sizes available

Meditation benches offer a different  approach to sitting in meditation. By kneeling on a meditation bench, practitioners experience a supportive platform that elevates the body slightly off the ground. This position naturally aligns the spine and reduces pressure on the knees and joints. The beauty of a meditation bench lies in its ability to accommodate individuals with varying degrees of flexibility and joint issues. Practitioners who struggle with the traditional cross-legged posture often find solace in the ergonomic design of meditation benches.

Both meditation benches and zafus are ideally paired with a zabuton cushion.

Zabuton cushions are designed to provide a soft and cushioned foundation for practitioners who choose to meditate in a seated or kneeling position on the floor. They serve as a protective layer between your body and the floor, making longer meditation sessions more comfortable. By placing a zabuton beneath your meditation cushion or zafu, you create a gentle and stable platform that reduces discomfort in the knees and legs.

Person using travel zafu sitting on zabuton in lotus position

Zafu: Simple and Supportive

Zafus are meditation cushions designed to provide a comfortable and supportive seat for practitioners. They can come in different shapes, and we at Still Sitting offer two beautiful handmade designs: round zafus and crescent zafus. The core function of a zafu is to elevate the pelvis, allowing for a more aligned spine and better support during meditation. Additionally, zafus are generally lightweight and portable, meaning they can go anywhere you want to go. Zafus do require a certain amount of flexibility to use, but there are numerous ways to sit on a zafu (not just cross-legged) that can accommodate people of different levels of flexibility.

Here’s a quick overview of our two main types of zafu, round and crescent:

  • Round Zafu:
    • Traditional design with forward balanced posture
    • Supports the natural curve of the spine
    • Ideal for those who prefer the classic zafu shape
    • Maintains alignment through the tripod of pelvis and knees
  • Crescent Zafu:
    • Offers broad and comfortable support
    • Helps Prevent legs from falling asleep during meditation
    • Provides additional support through the hips
    • Suitable for practitioners seeking a comfortable and supportive cushion
3 meditation benches with people sitting

Meditation Bench: Firm but Rigid

Meditation benches are crafted to support practitioners in a kneeling position. These benches allow you to sit comfortably with your legs folded beneath you while being supported by the bench. If you’re worried about the hip-mobility and flexibility required for a meditation cushion, these make for a simple alternative that are just as effective for good posture. Meditation benches provide an elevated seat that takes pressure off the knees and joints, making them an ideal choice for individuals who experience discomfort or stiffness in the traditional cross-legged posture.

We have three types of meditation benches available. Here’s a quick overview:

Nomad Meditation Bench:

  • Two options available. One for smaller individuals, the other for larger, or those whose knees are less flexible.
  • Portable and lightweight for meditation on the go
  • Ideal for practitioners seeking adjustability and ease of travel
  • Provides stability and support for extended meditation sessions

Traditional Bench:

  • Fixed height. “Regular” and “tall” options available.
  • Provides stability and support during meditation without the stress on joints that can occur when sitting on a cushion.  those who prefer a kneeling meditation posture
  • Supports an erect, straight spine.

Center Meditation Bench:

  • Fixed height. “Regular” and “tall” options available.
  • Provides stability and support during meditation without the stress on joints that can occur when sitting on a cushion.  those who prefer a kneeling meditation posture
  • Supports an erect, straight spine.
  • Legs are not confined, as with the traditional bench. Fluidly move between kneeling and standing position.
Nomad Bench
  • Adjustable height range
  • Small to medium build, flexible knees
  • Portable and light weight
Crescent Zafu
  • Broad comfy support
  • Helps prevent legs from falling asleep
  • Portable and light weight
Center Meditation Bench
  • Fixed height
  • Extra mobility and leg room
  • Classic design

Choosing Your Perfect Seat

Whether you opt for the gentle support of a meditation cushion or the firmness of a bench, Still Sitting provides meticulously crafted options that will support your practice. Consider your individual needs and the guidance provided in this comparison to make an informed decision. Investing in a high-quality meditation seat is the simplest way to begin your meditation journey. Read more in-depth about Still Sitting’s meditation supplies in our guide to “Choosing the Right Zafu” and “Choosing the Right Meditation Bench“.

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