For the first 2 years of meditation I only used a cushion.I tried a bench once and instantly got cramps in my feet.
Intense back pain was my motivation to give benches another shot and I'm really glad I did. Now I prefer benches to cushions; however, I use both to shift the stresses more evenly across my body.
|Top View of Meditation Bench|
I did the standard internet research on benches and chose the "Deluxe Bamboo Meditation & Yoga Bench" sold through Amazon by Bean Products.
This bench is a folding style bench with rounded feet and flat seat. I chose a folding model to make it easy to take with me to sangha sits or sesshins. It is also a lot easier to store in my home study after my morning sit and I loved the bamboo.
|Folding Meditation Bench Feet|
I also put an incredibly tacky orange cushion on top of the bench that probably adds another 2 inches after compression. I found this pillow at Goodwill and have been using it pretty much from the start of my Zen practice so it has some sentimental value (attachment?). My dogs have a similar feeling based on their desire to chew and drool on it. I have been designing a custom cushion that I plan to make at some point that will replace the pillow.
|Tacky Orange Pillow|
|Poor leg alignment|
However, sitting on this bench was a pleasure. I quickly learned how to adjust the angle so that I can sit incredibly comfortably for an hour.
- I kneel on the zabuton with my feet just over the edge so that the top of my foot is touching the edge of the zabuton
- Then I place the bench over my legs extending and spreading the feet
- Next I grab my tacky orange pillow and place it on top of the bench aligning the front of the pillow with the front of the bench
- Then I grab each side of the bench with my hands and tilt it forward so that the front of the foot is tilted to the maximum forward position
- Finally I place my weight (bum) on the cushion and settle back to a comfortable angle
This has definitely been the most comfortable sitting position I have found.
|Front Meditation Bench View|
|Back Meditation Bench View|
|Profile Meditation Bench View|
To fix the hinge pins I went to my local hardware store and bought the cheapest beeswax toilet seal ring they sold. Then I took some beeswax and crammed it into the hinges and replaced the hinge pins. The beeswax provides the perfect amount of friction to keep the hinge pins in place and also lubricates the hinges.
The other modification I made was the addition of a felt to the end of each leg so that it didn't create a loud clap when the legs closed.
I would definitely buy this bench again, even with the required changes/modifications. I have tried a lot of different benches at our sangha and a monastery and this bench proved the most comfortable for my needs and shape.
Friendly bows, _/|\_