How you support your body in sitting meditation can make all the difference between feeling agitated and edgy or feeling calm and relaxed. The traditional combination of zafu and zabuton is the most popular, time-tested support for sitting practice.
Sitting on a zafu gives your hips extra height, allowing your pelvis to tilt forward and your spine to maintain its natural curves. When your spine is in its natural curves, it supports itself. Then there’s no need to use muscular energy to sit up straight. When you have to exert a lot of effort just to maintain your posture, your body becomes tense and tired. Agitation or tension in the body often influences your state of mind. So finding a comfortable sitting position, where the body is at ease, is really important.
The other benefit of an easeful sitting posture is that when you’re not using your core muscles to hold you up, your breath can flow more easily. This also helps you maintain your energy while sitting.
Supporting your zafu with a zabuton adds another element of ease to your sitting practice. When you sit, especially for longer periods, the bones in your feet and ankles can grind into a hard floor. Placing a zabuton underneath your zafu eliminates this problem. It also adds an extra layer of insulation if you’re sitting in a cool room.
2 Ways to Sit on a Zafu and Zabuton:
Cross-legged: If your hips externally rotate easily—if your knees are lower than your hip bones when you sit cross-legged—this will be a good position for you.
- Kneeling: If your knees are higher than your hip bones when you sit cross-legged, your pelvis will likely tilt back, eliminating your spine’s natural curves. Sitting on your zafu in a kneeling position eliminates this problem. To do this, turn your zafu on its side, so that it’s taller, and sit with your shins flat on your zabuton.
Our zafus and zabutons are handmade here in our Salt Lake City facility. Both are covered with upholstery-grade fabrics. Our zafus are filled with organic buckwheat hulls, while our zabutons are filled with cotton batting. Both are zippered so that you can remove the filling and wash the covers if need be.
For more info on zafus, their history and how to use them, check out this post.