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Meditation Mat

The act of meditation is one that requires harmony between body and mind in order to create the most advantageous state for deliberation. Due to the nature of meditation, the body can be still for quite a while and it is obvious that some sort of padding is necessary. Meditation mats have a long history of providing cushioning and support during the act of spiritual searching and if you read below, you can see if these highly-useful accessories are for you!

At its most basic, a meditation mat is simply something that is spread between the person meditating and the floor. This does not necessarily need to be anything designed for the specific purpose of aiding in your contemplation, though it certainly can be, as you will see below. Many people who meditate will simply use their yoga mat. This has an association benefit as yoga can be a very meditative art and thus they are also tapping into the emotions and considerations that are present in yoga for their meditation practice. Yoga mats are made of cushiony rubber that will stick to slippery floors and are usually available in an eighth of an inch to a quarter of an inch thickness.

Yoga mats are very thin, of course, and there may not be enough cushioning in the rubber to stop you from getting sore or distracted with your bones pushing into the floor. Meditation sessions can be lengthy and it is important to avoid lasting damage to yourself, especially if you find yourself in one position for an extended period of time.

Meditation mats are a traditional staple of Japanese Zen meditation, and are called zabutons. Zabutons are thick pads in various sizes and shapes that act as a base for a smaller cushion where the person meditating sits. The zabuton thus cradles the feet, ankles, and legs, providing support for the parts of your body that can become quite sore after a lengthy period of reflection. The zabuton is an every-day object in Japan, and the word is literally translated into "seat-cloth-sphere." It is used for eating, reading, and many other daily activities, testifying to its utility.

Japanese meditation mats can be stuffed with a wide variety of material, from cotton batting, to kapok, to buckwheat hulls.

If you are shopping for a zabuton, think about where and how you will be using it. Will you be taking it outdoors or will it stay in a corner of your house? What shape do you prefer? Do you stretch out when you meditate or do you stay very still? All of these thoughts should affect the meditation mat you acquire.

Slightly more severe than the zabuton is the tatami meditation mat. This woven straw mat is a striking addition to your meditation area, and if you don't enjoy the softness of the zabuton, this mat may be more to your liking.

There are many options besides sitting on a bare floor; perhaps meditation mats are for you!

By Phil Pemberton

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