meditation bench FI

What Is the Point of a Meditation Bench?

Picture this: you’re trying to meditate, but your legs have filed a formal complaint about the lack of support. Fear not, the meditation bench is here to save the day (and your knees)!

This humble yet game-changing piece of furniture, often referred to as a seiza stool or zazen bench, is designed to make your meditation experience more comfortable, helping you to find inner peace without starting a war with your limbs.

Read on to discover how the meditation bench can enhance your practice, align your posture, and make it easier to levitate—okay, maybe not that last one, but hey, a meditator can dream! I’ve even suggested a few good ones to get you started.

A meditation bench can offer various advantages such as better posture, enhanced comfort, and more profound meditation experiences.

By raising your hips above your knees, it eases pressure on your lower back and hips, letting you sit for extended periods. A bench also assists in maintaining a neutral spine position, encouraging proper alignment and preventing pain or injury.

In this guide, I’ll discuss all you need to know about selecting a meditation bench, like the different styles, finding the correct height, and the essential features to consider.

Regardless of your meditation experience level, a meditation bench can help you discover the ideal sitting position and enrich your practice.

Know exactly what you’re after? Jump to my top 5 recommendations here.

Understanding Meditation Benches

Meditation benches are simple contraptions meant to offer support and coziness while meditating.

They have a flat seat and two legs that lift the seat a few inches above the ground. Although the fundamental design is consistent among all benches, various versions accommodate different body shapes and meditation techniques.

Seiza bench

One popular type of meditation bench is the seiza meditation bench, which originates from Japan. This bench is designed to support the seiza sitting position, in which the meditator kneels with their legs tucked beneath them.

The seiza bench allows for a more comfortable and stable seiza position by elevating the hips and taking pressure off the ankles and knees.

Meditation bench materials

Meditation benches, including the popular wooden bench, can be made from a variety of materials, including wood, bamboo, and metal.

Some benches come with cushions or padding for added comfort, while others have adjustable legs to accommodate different body types and heights.

Cultural and spiritual origins of meditation benches

The cultural and spiritual origins of meditation benches can be traced back to Asian traditions, where they were used as tools for grounding and stability in meditation practice.

The seiza bench, for example, was used in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies as a way to promote proper posture and concentration.

In Buddhism, benches were used to promote a sense of stability and balance during meditation, both physically and mentally.

How do benches compare to other meditation seating?

Compared to other meditation props such as cushions or chairs, benches offer a unique combination of support and stability.

While cushions can be comfortable, they often lack the stability and grounding provided by a bench.

Chairs, on the other hand, can be too comfortable and can promote slouching or laziness during meditation.

The symbolism of meditation benches

Symbolically, meditation benches represent a tool for grounding and stability in meditation practice.

By providing a firm and stable foundation, benches allow meditators to connect more deeply with their physical body and the present moment.

The act of sitting on a bench can also be seen as a symbol of commitment and discipline to one’s meditation practice.

Benefits of Using a Meditation Bench

Meditation benches: woman meditating
Meditation benches: their benefits

Using a meditation bench can offer a range of benefits for both the body and mind. Here are some of the key benefits of using a bench:

  • Better posture and alignment: A bench supports the body’s natural alignment, especially the spine. It promotes pelvis tilting, allowing the spine to straighten, reducing neck, shoulder, and back tension, and improving breathing patterns.
  • Less physical discomfort: Benches offer a comfortable alternative to cross-legged sitting or cushions, reducing pressure on hips, knees, and ankles, allowing for longer sits in a kneeling position without pain.
  • Enhanced concentration: A comfortable, stable seat helps maintain focus during meditation, prevents slouching or fidgeting, and reduces distractions.
  • Increased mindfulness and relaxation: Benches promote mindfulness and relaxation by providing a comfortable, stable seat, deepening presence and awareness, and leading to a calmer, more centered state.
  • Psychological benefits: Creating a dedicated meditation space with a bench establishes a sense of ritual and discipline, reinforcing meditation’s importance in daily routine and promoting mindfulness in other life areas.

Why not read: 21 Meditation Gifts People Who Meditate Actually Want

Choosing the Right Bench

Choosing the right meditation bench can make a big difference in the quality of your meditation practice. Here are some factors to consider when selecting a meditation bench:

Meditation bench height

The height of your bench is important because it determines how your body will be positioned during meditation. A bench that is too tall can cause your hips to tilt backward, while a bench that is too short can cause your knees to lift too high.

The ideal height for your bench will depend on your own height and flexibility. As a general rule, a bench that is around 7-8 inches high is a good starting point.

Width

The width of your bench is also important because it can affect the stability of your seat. A bench that is too narrow can feel unstable and uncomfortable, while a bench that is too wide can make it difficult to maintain proper alignment.

The ideal width for your bench will depend on your own body type and the length of your legs. As a general rule, a bench that is around 18-20 inches wide is a good starting point.

Material

The material of your bench can affect both its comfort and its environmental impact. Common materials for benches include wood, bamboo, and plastic. Wooden benches are sturdy and comfortable but can be heavy and may not be eco-friendly.

Bamboo benches are lightweight and sustainable, but may not be as comfortable as wooden benches. Plastic benches are lightweight and affordable, but may not be as comfortable or durable as wooden or bamboo benches.

Measuring yourself

To determine the right size bench for you, it’s important to measure yourself. Start by sitting on the floor with your legs crossed in the position you would like to use for meditation.

Measure the distance from the floor to your hips, and add 1-2 inches to determine the ideal height for your bench. Measure the distance between your knees and hips to determine the ideal width for your bench.

Body type and flexibility

Your body type, flexibility, and preference for sitting positions such as the kneeling position can also affect the type of meditation bench that is best for you.

If you have tight hips or limited flexibility, a bench with a wider seat may be more comfortable. If you have longer legs, a bench with a higher seat may be more comfortable.

It’s important to choose a bench that allows you to sit comfortably and maintain proper alignment throughout your meditation practice.

Posture preferences

Finally, consider your posture preferences when choosing a meditation bench.

Some people prefer to sit with their knees together and their feet tucked underneath them, while others prefer to sit with their legs crossed in a more traditional meditation posture.

Consider which posture is most comfortable for you and choose a bench that supports that posture.

When selecting a meditation bench, it’s also important to consider eco-friendly and sustainable options.

Many meditation benches are made from bamboo or reclaimed wood, which are more sustainable options than traditional wooden benches.

Choosing an eco-friendly bench can help to reduce your environmental impact and promote sustainability in your meditation practice.

Using Your Meditation Bench: Plus Tips for Beginners

Meditation benches: How to sit on a meditation bench diagram

Now that you have chosen the perfect bench for your practice, it’s time to learn how to use it effectively. Here are some tips for beginners to help you sit comfortably and mindfully on your meditation bench.

Properly sitting on a Meditation Bench

When sitting on a bench, it’s important to maintain good posture. Start by sitting on the bench with your knees on the cushion and your feet tucked underneath you.

Your back should be straight, but not rigid. Allow your shoulders to relax and your arms to rest gently on your thighs or in your lap.

Finding the Best Position for Your Body and Practice

Experiment with different positions to find the one that works best for your body and your meditation practice.

You may find that you prefer to sit with your feet flat on the floor instead of tucked underneath you, or that you need to adjust the height of your bench for optimal comfort.

Remember, everyone’s body is different, so don’t be afraid to make modifications to find the position that works best for you.

Incorporating a bench into your meditation practice

When first starting out, it’s recommended to use your meditation bench for shorter periods of time and gradually build up to sit longer and longer sits.

Start with just a few minutes and gradually increase the time as you become more comfortable sitting on the bench.

Set a timer for your meditation session to help you stay on track and avoid becoming distracted.

Modifications and adjustments for beginners

If you find that sitting on a meditation bench is uncomfortable, there are a few modifications and adjustments you can make.

For added support, try sitting on a cushion or folded blanket. You can also adjust the height of your bench by adding or removing cushions.

Don’t be discouraged if it takes some time to get used to sitting on a meditation bench. With practice, you will become more comfortable and find the position that works best for you.

Building Up gradually and listening to your body’s needs

It’s important to listen to your body’s needs and build up gradually to longer meditation sessions.

Don’t push yourself too hard, especially in the beginning. If you feel discomfort or pain, take a break or adjust your position. Remember that meditation is a practice, and it’s okay to make mistakes or take breaks.

Incorporating mindfulness into daily activities

In addition to formal meditation practice, it’s also important to incorporate mindfulness into daily activities.

Try doing walking meditation, where you focus on the sensations of each step, or mindful breathing exercises, where you focus on your breath.

These practices can help you stay present and mindful throughout the day, even when you’re not sitting on your meditation bench.

The Top 5 Meditation Benches

Here are five top meditation benches, including seiza stools and zazen benches, that you may consider for your practice, along with a brief review of their pros and cons:

Best premium bench: BLUECONY Meditation Bench IKUKO Original

Pros:

  • The ergonomic design helps improve posture and reduce discomfort during meditation (even without a cushion
  • Premium hand-made bench
  • The original version can be dismantled for transport.
  • Comes in a range of heights

Cons:

  • Relatively expensive

Materials: Solid cherry wood / Laminate cherry wood
Dimensions: Depth: 7.8″ – Width: 16.55″ Height (6.30″ / 7.87″ / 7.9″)

I love this bench. I don’t own one (have asked the wife for next Christmas) but I tried a friend’s and it’s incredible. The quality and feel are luxurious, and because of the curve you probably won’t need a cushion.


Best value bench: Monk & Llama Meditation Bench

Pros:

  • Good quality materials for the price
  • Comes with a travel bag

Cons:

  • Some have said that it’s on the smaller side

Materials: Bamboo bench, Cotton and foam cushion
Dimensions: 15.7″ x 7.4″ x 3.5″

There are a lot of mid-range benches to choose from, but what I like about the Monk & Llama bench is that it’s a sturdy bench at a good height and it comes as standard with a good quality cushion.


Best budget bench: Mindful & Modern Folding Meditation Bench

Pros:

  • For the price, you are getting a decent-quality bench
  • Comes with a carry case
  • Lightweight

Cons:

  • Can be a little low
  • There have been a few reviews that have said hinges would open too much

Materials: Bamboo bench, Cotton carry bag
Dimensions: 18″ x 2.5″ x 8.2″

For the price, Mindful & Modern has a terrific offering with solid sustainable bamboo and a cotton case.


Best travel bench: Still Sitting Nomad Meditation Bench

Pros:

  • Extremely compact and lightweight
  • Comes in medium and large

Cons:

  • Relatively expensive

This bench is highly portable and lightweight, making it easy to carry around when traveling. It can be folded completely flat and easily fits into a suitcase. The chair has a hammock-style seat that is adjustable to suit your preferences and increase your comfort. It is available in two sizes, with the medium bench being suitable for smaller and more flexible individuals, while the large bench is best suited for taller and heavier individuals.


Best bench and cushion set: Zabuton bench and cushion set

Pros:

  • No need to find a separate cushion for your knees
  • Matching materials
  • Acts as a great reminder to meditate

Cons:

  • Takes some time to expand as the cushion arrives compressed

This is a great option if you want a matching set. If you find it difficult to sit on your knees, this is a comfortable mat to make it a lot easier and meditate longer.


The Best Bench for You

Ultimately, the best meditation bench for you will depend on your personal preferences and needs. Consider factors such as your height, flexibility, and any physical issues you may have when selecting a bench.

Additionally, think about how often you will use the bench and whether you need a portable or stationary option. By considering these factors and reading reviews of different options, you can find the perfect meditation bench for your practice.

Caring for Your Bench

Your meditation bench is an essential tool for your practice, and taking care of it will ensure it lasts for years to come. Here are some tips for cleaning, maintaining, and storing your meditation bench:

Cleaning

It’s best to clean your meditation bench regularly to keep it free of dust and dirt. You can wipe it down with a soft cloth or use a gentle cleaning solution if necessary. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials that may damage the finish or the wood.

Maintaining

To maintain your meditation bench’s condition, it’s best to store it in a dry and well-ventilated area. Exposure to direct sunlight, humidity, or extreme temperatures can cause the wood to warp or crack. You can also apply a protective coating, such as wax or oil, to the bench periodically to keep it from drying out.

Storing

When not in use, store your meditation bench in a safe and secure location. You can keep it in a dedicated meditation space or a closet, but avoid placing it in areas with high traffic or where it may be knocked over or damaged.

Dealing with wear and tear

If your meditation bench does experience wear and tear or damage, it’s essential to address it promptly to prevent further damage.

Depending on the severity of the issue, you may be able to repair it yourself or seek the assistance of a professional. Some common issues include loose joints, scratches or dents, or damage to the finish.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your meditation bench remains in excellent condition and provides a stable and comfortable seat for your practice.

The Takeaway

Meditation benches are a valuable asset for those wanting to enhance their meditation practice.

We have delved into the history and various types of meditation benches, along with their numerous benefits, such as better posture, focus, and relaxation. Furthermore, we have offered guidance on selecting, using, and maintaining a meditation bench.

I recommend giving a meditation bench a try, and exploring different styles and sizes to find the ideal fit for you.

Keep in mind that the most crucial aspect is developing a consistent and devoted meditation practice, whether you use a bench, cushion, or chair.

A meditation bench can offer a sense of grounding and steadiness in your practice, contributing to deeper mindfulness and the cultivation of inner tranquility. So, why not try it out and discover your perfect meditation seat?

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be construed as professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms of any mental health condition, we strongly advise consulting with a qualified healthcare professional.

FAQs

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Meditation benches and cushions both provide support for your meditation practice, but they have different designs and functions. A cushion elevates your hips, allowing for a more comfortable seated position, while a bench allows you to kneel in a position that aligns your spine and relieves pressure on your back and legs.

Meditation benches may not be suitable for everyone, especially those with knee or ankle problems, as they require kneeling. However, some benches come with modifications, such as additional padding or adjustable heights, to accommodate physical limitations.

If you prefer a kneeling posture or have trouble maintaining a comfortable seated position, a meditation bench may be a good choice for you. It’s important to consider your physical limitations and preferences when choosing a bench.

Yes, meditation benches can be used for different meditation styles, including mindfulness, Zen, and Vipassana meditation. However, it’s important to find a bench that works for your specific meditation practice.

Yes, some meditation benches are portable and can be easily disassembled or folded for travel. However, it’s important to check the size and weight of the bench before purchasing to ensure it is easy to transport.

The lifespan of a meditation bench depends on the quality of the materials and how well it is cared for. A well-made bench can last for years with proper maintenance and care.

Some people may find kneeling on a bench uncomfortable or difficult, especially if they have knee or ankle problems. It’s important to consider your physical limitations and preferences before using a bench.

Are meditation benches worth it?

Meditation benches can help alleviate back pain and other physical discomforts by promoting proper alignment and reducing pressure on the spine. However, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional if you have any underlying health conditions.

The duration of your meditation session depends on your personal preferences and physical limitations. It’s important to listen to your body and take breaks as needed to avoid discomfort or pain.

Yes, meditation benches can be used in different settings, including outdoor spaces. However, it’s important to protect the bench from moisture and other elements to ensure its longevity.

The cost of a meditation bench varies depending on the quality of the materials, design, and brand. A good quality bench can range from $50 to $200 or more. It’s important to consider your budget and needs when choosing a bench.

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