Friday, February 22, 2013

Review of The Mountain Zabuton - Zen Meditation Mat


 It is designed and produced by Dharma Communications which is the non-profit store of the Zen Mountain Monastery and the Mountains and Rivers Order in New York.

Quick Summary:  I love this meditation mat and use it daily with my zafu (meditation cushion) and my seiza (meditation bench.)  It is the most comfortable zabuton I have ever used.

The Review

The Mountain Zabuton Meditation Mat
The Mountain Zabuton
Meditation Mat
When practicing zazen I work to achieve a physical starting point that I think of as "finding neutral".  Neutral is the physical posture that develops a strong 3 point base (your knees/legs and your bum) and balances your frame evenly on the base.

If you lean too far forward then extra weight is applied to the legs and knees.  This leads to what feels like "the exploding kneecap syndrome" or "my ankles are killing me syndrome."  Either way, all you can think about is - "when the heck is the bell going to ring?"

If you lean too far back then typically you strain your back muscles.  This can also become quite painful and you're back to - "when the heck is the bell going to ring?"

Neutral is that awesome spot in-between.  I can sit comfortably in neutral for hours and only need to swap leg positions about every 30 minutes.  This is where the zabuton comes to play.

Once you are well balanced the zabuton cushions 2 points of the 3 point base.  If the zabuton is too worn or thin then your knees or ankles start screaming.  At my sangha's Dharma Hall the zabutons are all pretty well used (which is a good thing.)  They are fine for 2 half-hour sits with walking meditation in between but that is the outer limit.  Occasionally I will stack 2 on top of each other if one was particularly thin.

I had always assumed that was just the way zabutons were...enter The Mountain Zabuton.  The materials and craftsmenship of this meditation mat are fantastic.  Instead of being square this zabuton is  rectangular, approximately 34"x29".  However the important measurement is the thickness - which is approximately 4 inches.
Construction of The Mountain Zabuton Meditation Mat
Construction of The Mountain Zabuton
Meditation Mat

The core of this zabuton is viscoelastic foam which is sandwiched between cotton batting and a black cotton/poly outer shell.  The result is a very, very comfortable meditation mat.  The foam makes a huge difference.  I have never sat on another zabuton that comes close to The Mountain Zabuton for comfort.  If you are in the market for a meditation mat this is the one to get and find your neutral.

Here is one maintenance note that I'm finding helpful.  I stand the zabuton up on the long edge between sits and alternate which long edge is up.  It just leans against my file cabinet; this also has the benefit of taking up less space.  Orientation is ease because of the sewn on tag.  This tends to keep the meditation mat nice and fluffy for the next sit.

Friendly Bows _/|\_

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