The Zafu Cushion: Seated Meditation Aid

Zafu cushions are used by meditation practitioners to extend the amount of time spent in each session. These specialized pillows achieve this result by removing the distractions of joint pain and restricted blood flow that occurs from sitting for an extended period of time. On our site, we only sell the highest quality of zafu pillows and meditation furniture. If a certain brand doesn’t meet our quality standards after rigorous testing and user reviews, we don’t list it for sale.


What is a Zafu?

what is the meaning of zafuThe term zafu closely resembles a flattened-out bean bag chair. Users have stated that using the zafu pillow while meditating has dramatically impacted their sessions by prolonging the time spent in meditation, separating from the physical world quicker, and increasing focus. By positioning the body so that it is comfortable for a longer period of time, zafu cushions have become a mainstay in meditation.


History of the Zafu

Zafus have been in existence since sitting meditation first began. Historically, Tibetan Buddhist meditation, or Zazen (Zen), calls for the user to bow to the cushion both before and after their meditation session. The term zafu is loosely translated to ‘sewn seat’ in modern English and the first construction of this type of seating can be traced back to China centuries ago. It allows the user to feel more grounded with the Earth since it is both low to the ground and allows the legs to rest on the floor. The first zafu cushions were made by sewing three large uniform pieces of cloth together and filling the pillow with reedmace (cattail).


Modern Zafu Cushion Materials

While you can still find zafu pillows made with reedmace or other plant fibers, more modern materials have been proven to last longer and may provide more support. You can purchase zafu cushions made with cotton, polyester, foam, and wool. On the higher price points, you can buy zafu pillows made with buckwheat hulls, kapok, and wool.


Replacement Zafu Covers

The portability of the zafu is a great feature, but it also can be a disadvantage to those who move it around too much. When used in one place like a meditation room, it won’t get dirty and you won’t have to replace the cover but once every 6 months or so. The more foreign objects it comes across, the more times you’re going to have to replace the cover. These meditation cushions are constructed with this in mind. Most will come with manufacturer details on how to replace the zafu cover and will give you preferred vendors. You can also buy them from our store.


How a Zafu Pillow Works

buddhist meditation pillowThe zafu pillow works by raising the torso during seated meditation so that the angles on the knees and ankles become less extreme. By relaxing the body throughout the duration of a meditation session, you’ll be able to achieve a faster disconnect from the physical and focus more on your mantras.


Joint Pain Relief

People who practice seated meditation, primarily Zazen from Tibetan Buddhism, use zafus in almost every session. If you’re looking for an alternative to this type of pillow, view our other meditation seating. Although, people with bad knees have also found that this type of seating is great for daily activities that require them to sit on the floor for extended durations. The zafu pillow eases potential discomfort by absorbing the pressure of the floor and displacing it the edges of the cushion and the objects that it is in contact with, namely a person’s rear end and the floor. By spreading out the pressure points evenly throughout a person’s lower half of their body, blood flow isn’t constricted. Furthermore, by raising the torso of the meditator, it allows the legs and ankles to be more relaxed as the angles of these appendages won’t be as extreme.


Longer Meditation Sessions

As we constantly strive for longer meditation sessions, deeper focus and intent, and all-around better mindfulness, meditative aids help us to achieve those goals. Zafu cushions help us to meditate longer due to the removal of discomfort in our joints and increased blood flow to our extremities. After using a zafu a few times, you won’t want to go back to just sitting on the floor.


How to Use a Zafu Pillow

To use a zafu in the traditional sense, you have to show it respect by bowing to it before and after meditating. We don’t recommend you do this if it feels like the action isn’t natural to you or part of your teachings. For simplicity’s sake, lets assume that you are a modern practitioner of meditation and you don’t use it as part of a formal religious ceremony. Just place the zafu cushion on the floor and sit on it in a natural way. After that, fold your legs into a crossed position and let them rest on the floor. You’ll quickly realize the difference on your first go. While you can use them by themselves, it is much better to use a zafu with a zabuton mat. This cushioned mat helps to support the ankles and feet and oftentimes you can find a zabuton/zafu set cheaper than if you purchased them separately.


How to Shop for the Best Zafu Cushion for Meditation

what is a meditation pillow forEveryone has their own specific lifestyle in which finding the perfect type of meditation seating might be challenging. However, since most zafu cushions are roughly the same size and shape, it makes it easier to find something that suits your meditation style. You can choose anything from formal and traditional zafus for religious forms of meditation to modern zafus which might prove to be more resilient to wear and tear. The options aren’t limitless, but you have them. We know that by scrolling through our collection of zafus for sale, you’ll find one that you’ll be extremely happy with and that will help you achieve your goals.