Meditation Tool: Zafu

My zafu

It occurs to me that I recently alluded to dusting off my zafu for a meditation, but I didn’t describe what this was.  This isn’t a new term to this project.  In fact, it was way, way back in the earliest days of this 366 challenge, that I even learned about zafus, which are simply really sturdy, round pillows that you are meant to sit on with your legs crossed before you.

Most typically, these pillows are about 14 inches around and maybe 8 inches high when fully fluffed.  They’re sewn of three pieces of fabric in a sort of cylindrical pattern, with the sides having a few gathers.  They’re usually black in color and stuffed with either kapok or buckwheat hulls, which gives them the sturdiness and flexibility of a bean bag chair.  When you sit on them, they raise your hips, which makes the range of cross-legged sitting positions more stable.  It also alleviates the pressures that make your legs fall asleep.  Better still, the rotation of the hips helps you sit straighter and with less back fatigue over the course of the meditation.

Zafus are often used in conjunction with a second wider, flatter pillow, the zabuton.  That extra cushioning gives additional support and helps cushion the ankles, which can experience some pain after a little while when your legs are crossed for a while.

I first began using a zafu when I took a kundalini meditation class a couple years ago.  I found it really made the ‘sitting meditations’ bearable, so I saved my pennies and got one from zafudesigns.com, which has since closed up.  Some day, I’ll probably get a zabuton too, but a folded blanket can serve the same purpose pretty admirably.

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