Which Meditation Mat Is Right For Me?



Finding Your Ground

We hear from a lot of customers looking for the perfect cushion. However, those on our staff who log many hours of sitting meditation know that investing in a high-quality zabuton is the key to sitting in comfort. We’ll also cover seiza bench options in this post, for sitting on the floor in a kneeling position.

A zabuton is a flat, square meditation mat that goes under your zafu meditation cushion, meditation bench, or meditation stool. It’s designed to relieve pressure and cushion your knees and ankles during meditation. Our zabuton meditation mats are made in the USA of recycled cotton batting and have sturdy, removable cotton covers that you can machine wash.

The Bodhi Seat Zabuton is a traditional mat stuffed with a generous layer of cotton batting. While this mat is thick, the all-cotton filling makes this a good option for those who prefer to feel more grounded, with a firmer feel on the floor. We also offer two types of zabuton that use memory foam. The Mountain Seat zabuton is made of two inches of cotton batting topped by a layer of memory foam. The Cloud Zabuton is an all-foam mat is made of two inches of firm foam topped by an inch of soft memory foam.

Both the Cloud and the Mountain Seat zabutons are reversible—you can sit on the memory foam surface, or you can flip it over to sit on the cotton batting surface (in the case of the Mountain Seat), or the firm foam surface (in the case of the Cloud). Why is this useful? Because sometimes you might prefer the soft surface of the memory foam, which really conforms to your body’s shape, and sometimes you might want a firmer foundation, which can make your sitting feel more grounded. It gives you options.

A caveat: while The Cloud zabuton is a favorite among some of the residents at the Monastery (full disclosure: I sit on one; I prefer the firm-foam surface), when we have to stand on our zabutons for liturgy services, the Cloud makes for a wobbly experience. If you’re using it at home, or at a sitting group or meditation center that doesn’t do formal liturgy services, this won’t be an issue.

Seiza benches are wooden benches that you use to sit on the floor in a kneeling position, without putting pressure on your feet or ankles. Our Standard Seiza Meditation bench is made of sturdy poplar by a one of our own sangha members. It’s 8.5” high and comes in a version with folding legs, perfect for travel. The same bench comes in a taller size, also with folding legs, and comes in at 10” high, better for tall people or larger bodies. Finally, there’s the Folding Upholstered seiza bench, with a soft black cushion and a rounded base that lets you adjust the angle of the seat.

A reminder: The Monastery Store is staffed by monastics and long-term residents living in full-time training at Zen Mountain Monastery. This means that we’re using the cushions, benches, and mats we sell every day, day after day. The Monastery’s monastics even developed some of the cushions we offer, which can’t be found anywhere else. We’re here to help answer all of your questions about our cushions so that you can decide what’s right for you.

We’re available during business hours from Tuesday afternoon through Saturday afternoon to help answer any questions you have about our meditation cushions and benches—or anything else related to your practice. Give us a call at (845) 688-7993, or email us at support@dharma.net.

Find out more about meditation postures and zazen instruction. We also have a short video on how to take your seat.

Next time: We’ll introduce you to our National Buddhist Prison Sangha program, our 30-year-old right action initiative supporting people who are incarcerated in developing and maintaining a spiritual practice through one-on-one correspondence, prison visits and practice group leadership.

*U.S. Patent Number 9,668,584 B2