What is a gomden?

Variety of Tibetan Seat meditation cushions, patterns and solid colors, firm foam meditation cushions in gomden style

The gomden or “Tibetan seat” is a firm, rectangular cushion that offers a meditation alternative to the more widely-used zafu.

Everyone’s body is unique, so it’s important to find a style of cushion that works for you. This can make the difference between deep practice and meditation marred by distraction and discomfort. If you are looking for a cushion that is stable and supportive, but doesn’t require much hip and knee flexibility, the gomden is an excellent choice.

Here we’ll take you through some of the history of the gomden, how it compares to a zafu, as well as the materials we use to make our cushions at Still Sitting.

Woman sitting on Tibetan Seat and zabuton in nice meditation space, gomden style foam cushion on zabuton

What is a gomden?

A gomden is a rectangular meditation cushion that provides firm support and stability during meditation. It has its roots in the Tibetan Buddhist meditation tradition. The name “gomden” itself is derived from Tibetan, where “gom” means meditation and “den” means base or seat.  The original design was developed by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche for Western practitioners. It is now used in Shambhala meditation centers around the world. Unlike the round zafu, the gomden’s rectangular shape offers a different kind of sitting experience, which can be more accessible to beginners or those who are less flexible.

The dimensions of the gomden, which are both higher and wider (with more surface area overall), allow for a comfortable sit with plenty of cushioning. The additional height also takes strain off of the hips and knees. The gomden’s design encourages the natural curvature of the spine. You can sit with your ankles crossed, gently resting on the floor, or in a kneeling posture with the gomden between your legs. Whether you’re a seasoned meditator or a beginner, the gomden can help you find a comfortable and sustainable position for your practice.

Blue Tibetan Seat with carry handle, foam firm meditation cushion in gomden style

Gomden or zafu

Zafus are by far the most popular style of meditation cushion today, but what is a zafu? Zafus are a traditional, circular meditation cushion associated with Zen Buddhism. Both the zafu and gomden are intended to support your body in a manner that facilitates good posture. Each offers distinct advantages depending on personal preferences and needs.

  • Shape and Support: The most noticeable difference is in the shape. The zafu is round and typically stuffed with kapok or buckwheat hulls, making it more malleable and allowing it to conform to the body’s shape. The gomden, on the other hand, is rectangular and filled with firm foam, providing a stable and consistent support surface.
  • Posture and Alignment: A zafu elevates the hips and allows the knees to drop lower than the pelvis, which can be beneficial for those who prefer a cross-legged position. The gomden’s firm support helps in maintaining the spine’s natural curvature, but doesn’t require as much flexibility as a zafu, allowing the user to sit in a relaxed position with their ankles crossed.
  • Versatility: You can use the gomden in various sitting positions, including cross-legged, kneeling (seiza), or even in a chair for added height and support. Its firm structure makes it less likely to lose shape over time, providing consistent support for years.
Stacked Tibetan Seats foam firm meditation cushions in gomden style rectangle

Still Sitting’s Tibetan seat

We are proud to offer our own Tibetan seat, gomden-style cushion here at Still Sitting. We make this cushion with:

  • A Foam Core: At the heart of the Tibetan seat is a high-density foam core. This foam is firm enough to provide stable support but soft enough to be comfortable for extended sitting periods. The foam retains its shape well, ensuring that the cushion remains supportive over time.
  • A Removable Cover: The Tibetan seat comes with a removable cover, made from 100% cotton duck fabric. This cover is removable and easy to clean. It comes in a variety of handsome color combinations to suit your taste and aesthetic.
  • Ample dimensions: Our Tibetan seat measures 16.5 inches wide by 12.5 inches deep and 6.5 inches high. These dimensions provide generous support for most body types and sitting positions.
  • Portability: The Tibetan seat is sturdy, but lightweight. It includes a carrying handle on the side, so it’s easy to take to meditation classes or retreats.

The gomden is more than just a cushion; it is a tool that supports and enhances your meditation practice. Whether you are new to meditation or a seasoned practitioner, the gomden can help you find the comfort and stability you need to deepen your practice.

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