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Cushion or stool?

CharmwahCharmwah NewWakefield, UK New

Hello all

I'm a newbie here, so I'd like to thank you all in advance for taking the time to read my post and for any advice which is forthcoming.

I've had a regular meditation practice now for just over a year, but i'm still struggling with feeling comfortable whilst sitting. I'm a typical westerner in that I can't currently sit in any form of lotus, but I can usually sit in Burmese without issue. About 3 months into my practice I bought a decent zafu, and then maybe a month later felt that I needed to elevate myself further so use a normal cushion underneath this in order to keep my knees below my hips. I also try to practice yoga asanas which will help correct my admittedly less than ideal posture.

Since I work 5 days a week I tend to meditate first thing in the morning, though at the weekends it's often a little later, but I notice that I am more comfortable at the weekend, presumably because the stiffness has eased from my dormant body during sleep. In an ideal world I would include some yoga pre-meditation during the week, but time constraints make that difficult. In short, I tend to not feel like I am sitting straight and my lower back begins to tire, my legs shake and it becomes too much of a distraction.

Ultimately my question is, in the interim while the yoga is working to help my posture, would it be beneficial to use an alternative posture, for example using a meditation stool which I would imagine would aid with better posture anyway? When I feel my posture is improving I can try another posture if they would offer benefits over the stool.

With warmest regards



  • federicafederica Deep-fried Dharma Batter Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    I sit in a chair, sit on my bed, lean against the couch, sit on a cushion, sit on a bean bag... It's not the sitting position that matters so much as the quality of your meditation session. The more time you spend preoccupied with your sitting position, the more it becomes a distraction to your mindfulness.
    Of course, your attention is extremely important, and there will be those who state that your sitting position is of primary importance; all part of the discipline, yet something else to be perfected.
    I disagree.
    I use to lead a group of students in Qi Gong classes, and there were people of varying abilities and physical aptitudes. We always ended the session with a 10-minute meditation and again, everyone adopted the position that was most comfortable for them.
    Some people said they looked forward to the meditation more than the Qi Gong!
    My personal opinion is, look to the meditation in comfort and ease. Gradually, the position will look after itself.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the void Veteran

    I've been meditating for years and I still sit Burmese style. After a while the body usually adjusts and conditions itself for sitting in meditation posture, to the point where its natural and comfortable.

    Try sitting on the edge of the cushion or folding a sheet or towel on the back so it slopes forward and see if that helps.

    If your modestly handy it isn't that hard to make your own bench.

    I made one like this but use hinges on the inside of the legs so it can fold up and used some sticky sided velcro tape to attach a piece of dense foam. Though I still prefer my cushion.

  • CharmwahCharmwah New Wakefield, UK New

    Thank you both, I appreciate the advice and suggestions greatly.

    I'm keen to make sitting more comfortable because for a while I tried just lying down and felt it didn't have the same effect at all. Some days it's so uncomfortable that I'm close to just giving up.

    I read on another post some suggested yoga asanas to help with meditation posture (from Bhante Rahula), so I'll add those to my pre-sit practice.

    If anybody has any experience of the same thing I've described I'd be interested to know what they did to ease it.

  • FoibleFullFoibleFull Veteran Canada Veteran

    Just sit so that your spine is straight. Doesn't matter how you achieve that.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran

    Hi, Welcome to Knew Buddhist ;)

    Try sitting in the Egyptian pose (on a chair), standing or walking meditation.
    Try kneeling with pillows on your ankles.
    Yoga asana ARE meditative postures.

    If determined to continue sitting on the floor ...
    Start with prostrations to the Buddha, this will warm you up a bit.

    Zenith advice

    You might also find my meditation notes useful

  • marcitkomarcitko Explorer Explorer

    Once I bought a meditation stool I never looked back. It's comfortable and grounding. It even looks spiritual, so is good for motivation.

    I would suggest skipping the lotus postures. A few years of moderate meditation in half-lotus, and I detected a noticeable 'wobble' (injury) to the knee which I would bend most often. So I stopped.

  • howhow Veteran Veteran

    Because everyone’s body geometry is different, many different formal meditation positions are available for those differences.

    Simply choose whatever position experimentally best allows an objective observation of all of the arising and departing data from your eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body & mind.

    Meditation will occasionally be a demanding experience for everyone, regardless of their meditation position. Be cautious not to have the natural uneasiness that can arise from meditatively challenging our own delusions…… the reason one changes meditation positions.


    If your choice of a formal meditating body position ever causes you distracting pain, joint damage or slumber, then I’d suggest choosing another position..

  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran

    So I stopped.


    I think I read somewhere this is the purpose of meditation.

    Holy shit. It was in my stool all along (mine incidentally is home made ...)

    ... meanwhile, choose the right garment ...

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    Welcome back @how :)

  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran

    @Shoshin said:
    Welcome back @how :)

    <3 I am hoping he is here to taunt us with our ignorance <3

  • CharmwahCharmwah New Wakefield, UK New

    Thanks again for the advice and suggestions. I will certainly try the prostrations to the Buddha, and should probably try seiza pose with my zafu before considering a stool any further.

    As a further question, and since a few of the comments suggest comfort is more important than strictly regimented posture, how long do you generally sit in the same position (regardless of chosen posture) before you stretch or change position?

  • howhow Veteran Veteran

    Seiza happens to be my go to position. A medium zafu filled with kapok is my favourite steed. I favour it with a little plumping after every sit. We both sit upon a zabuton with my feet slightly trailing off its back edge to take a little pressure off my ankles.
    This zafu of mine usually canters well for about 30 minutes at a time before begging off for another 5 minutes of walking meditation. Repeat whenever you have nothing better to do.
    Whatever time length of zafu ride you choose for yourself, try to stick with it. Getting prematurely bucked off your zafu mid stride often just makes your zafu all the more skittish for the next ride.
    Making and sticking to an arranged scheduling with your formal meditation might also offer a wider range of personal insights beyond what you might find if you only sit when you happen to feel like it.
    As I have not found my existence to be practically accessible outside of this one fleeting solitary moment, a meditation proficiency for that one moment is all that can really be asked for.
    With your ride.

  • CharmwahCharmwah New Wakefield, UK New

    Thanks how, appreciate the advice

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