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Thread: Zafu Question

  1. #1
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Zafu Question

    I don't own a zafu, I have been using a pillow. Is it worth the money to invest in one instead of sitting on a pillow, especially for someone like me who has chronic hip and back problems, or is it basically the same thing.

    Also, I live in Western Canada, can anyone recommend a good website for ordering one.


    Treena

  2. #2
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    Treena,
    I don't know if you sit in lotus, burmese, or another position. Your zazen position can exacerbate lower back and hip problems if your posture is not comfortable or physiologically compassionate to your body's "story"... Much has been written on these forums about posture, Alexander technique, and avoiding rigidity in zazen posture. Taigu is a real authority on this.

    To make a potentially long answer short; your choice of pillow or zafu makes a huge difference as well - the investment in a zafu is well worth it. I have used pillows and find they "float" or are too squishy and unstable for me. The amount of time and energy my lower back muscles spend stabilizing my core is excessive when sitting on a pillow. I use a buckwheat hull-filled zafu. I would suggest one of these. There are several purveyors of zafus on the web, and I am sure you will find many opinions here. To be honest, what worked for me when I had to replace my zafu (the cat peed on it and as you might imagine difficult to remove the odor) is I went to amazon.com and searched on "zafu." Several great options were immediately available and I purchased the "Hugger Mugger" black zafu. I would suggest buckwheat hull filling as compared to kapok filling. I think it gives a more stable support, and can adjust to your anatomy when you settle into position. The difference between zafu and pillow will also become more obvious when you sit over the course of several periods of zazen, such as in a zazenkai or sesshin.

    I am sure there will be a plethora of opinions here. Take them all into consideration and decide what is most appropriate to your situation.

    Deep bows
    Yugen
    Last edited by Yugen; 10-05-2013 at 01:22 AM.
    Please take all my comments with a grain of salt - I am a novice priest and anything I say is to be taken with a good dose of skepticism - Shodo Yugen

  3. #3
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Thanks Yugen, good info to know, and I see now I definitely will have to take my time and do some research. I sit half-lotus or burmese, depending on what kind of day I've had in regards to how much stress has been put on my hips and back.


    Treena
    Last edited by Joyo; 10-05-2013 at 02:03 AM. Reason: typo

  4. #4
    Senior Member Bunny's Avatar
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    Totally worth the investment. Yugen covered the reasons well so I won't be redundant. This is what I bought:
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B000GL...110_SY165_QL70

    I was happy with this set. You can buy a zafu alone for far less. Amazon has a good return policy I think...in case you find the zafu you order doesn't work for you. Im assuming Amazon is Canada friendly....?

    My favorite/ most comfy way to sit was on a bench. There are some nice handmade ones on Etsy at times. Of course now that my health is not great I "sit" lying down. Too bad you are so far away. If we were neighbors I would just give you mine to use since I no longer use them.

    With Metta

  5. #5
    Senior Member Bunny's Avatar
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    Ooops ...this is actually the link I meant to post

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B000GN...110_SY165_QL70

  6. #6
    Hello Treena,

    Yugen has some wonderful advice, so don't have much to add, but here is a link (http://www.zenike.net/servlet/the-Za...ale/Categories) the place I ordered mine from. But I did try lots out before I purchased the one I have now.

    Gassho
    Shingen
    真 眼

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  7. #7
    I've only been sitting for a little over a month now and after only sitting on a pillow for a couple of days I looked into purchasing a zafu because of the reasons you mentioned. I noticed an immediate difference once I sat on it for the first time. I still have lower back pain when I sit, but it is near the end of my Zazen and it is a dull ache rather than borderline excruciating pain. Good luck on your search!

  8. #8

    I use three quite hard pillows at the moment. I think they are 'shape foam' based. A cushion is better. You can make your own, maybe even customise . . . which I have not yet done.

    http://www.buddhamind.info/leftside/lifestyl/medi/zafu.htm


    The chronic back and hip might decide a chair or bought comfort is best. I have used phone directories, catalogues, folded towels. Tush up is the important bit.

    What an exciting project. Sitting on pillows making something to sit on. Nice cycle to it . . .

  9. #9
    Senior Member Bunny's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lobster View Post

    I use three quite hard pillows at the moment. I think they are 'shape foam' based. A cushion is better. You can make your own, maybe even customise . . . which I have not yet done.

    http://www.buddhamind.info/leftside/lifestyl/medi/zafu.htm


    The chronic back and hip might decide a chair or bought comfort is best. I have used phone directories, catalogues, folded towels. Tush up is the important bit.

    What an exciting project. Sitting on pillows making something to sit on. Nice cycle to it . . .
    I made a zafu from those instructions awhile back. The problem I had was when it came to stuffing...the stuffing almost cost as much as buying a zafu. So, I've yet to stuff it. If anyone has a good (inexpensive!!!) source for kapok or buckwheat hulls let me know.

    Gassho

  10. #10
    Senior Member Shawn's Avatar
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    I bought mine off amazon.ca. (live in ontario) I used a pillow for years. Zafu helps keep posture upright. It helped me from sliding out of position.

    Gassho

    Shawn

  11. #11
    Zafu is a must. Pillows won t allow you to give it the propper angle so you sit at ease on it. You also need to make it fit your body size by adjusting its thickness.

    Gassho

    T.
    Taigu, teacher at Treeleaf Sangha, was born in 1964, started Zazen early and received Shukke Tokudo in 1983 at age 18 from Rev. Mokusho Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2002. Now resides in Osaka, Japan.

  12. #12
    Senior Member KellyRok's Avatar
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    Yes, I definitely think you need a Zafu. I used to sit Burmese or half lotus until I pulled my hips out of place twice (very painful), so now I mostly sit seiza with a mountain seat zafu (it's made from buckwheat hulls) and I really like it. It is higher than other forms of zafus, but is really perfect for sitting seiza for me. I bought it from the Monastery Store: http://www.dharma.net/monstore/index.php?cPath=104_105

    The newer mountain seat cushions have memory foam, mine does not and I like it that way because I can shape it and mold it for a proper sitting position for me.

    Good luck Treena, I hope you find the right one for you.

    Gassho,
    Kelly/Jinmei

  13. #13
    Senior Member Myosha's Avatar
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    Amazon (especially if you're Prime™): USD45 delivered. Wide variety, great return policy if it doesn't "fit".


    Gassho,
    Edward
    Practice with humility, respect all beings, avoid attachments, give rise to prajña from your own awareness, put an end to delusions - Hui-neng

  14. #14
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Thank you very much everyone, obviously time to start searching. I'll look at amazon.ca first and go from there.


    Treena

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    Senior Member Heishu's Avatar
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    Because of the aches and pains that I have, I changed my way of sitting by placing my zafu on a rattan stool. This helps my posture while keeping the pain under control. Here is what I purchased and it has served me well. rattan-stool.jpg You may purchase it from http://www.dharma.net/monstore/produ...oducts_id=2705

    You can find less expensive versions but this one is well made compared to those that I found in local stores.

    Btw, that is the mountain seat cushion in the picture and is the one that I use and it has great support.

    Gassho,
    Heishu
    Last edited by Heishu; 10-05-2013 at 11:54 PM.


    “Blessed are the flexible, for they never get bent out of shape." Author Unknown

  16. #16
    Senior Member Bunny's Avatar
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    I had no idea the stools exisyed-way cool! Thanks fir sharing Heishu !

  17. #17
    I use a Seiza bench most of the time as it hurts less. The Zafu hurts more but feels more stable. I hope to increase my flexibility slowly so I can sit comfortably on a Zafu in the Burmese position some day.

    Gassho, John
    Last edited by Jishin; 10-06-2013 at 03:50 AM.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Heishu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunny View Post
    I had no idea the stools exisyed-way cool! Thanks fir sharing Heishu !
    You're welcome. When I realized I was needing to change my way of sitting I first went to the Seiza but after a few months my situation warranted another adjustment to lessen pain and now I am happy I have my rattan stool. I like that I can still sit on a zafu and also not ruin my legs. I use the mountain seat cushion to give the proper height for my legs. Someone that is not as tall would want to use a standard size cushion perhaps.

    Gassho,
    Heishu


    “Blessed are the flexible, for they never get bent out of shape." Author Unknown

  19. #19
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Again, thx everyone. So I found this on amazon.ca (Canadian) I like the green color, and it it buckwheat...any opinions on this one

    http://www.amazon.ca/YogaAccessories...zafu+buckwheat



    treena

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Emmy View Post
    Again, thx everyone. So I found this on amazon.ca (Canadian) I like the green color, and it it buckwheat...any opinions on this one

    http://www.amazon.ca/YogaAccessories...zafu+buckwheat



    treena
    I had a buckwheat zafu at one time and it was good, but they are harder, so all depends if you would like that, or something with a little give.

    Gassho
    Shingen
    真 眼

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Thank you, Shingen!! Since I've got hip and back problems, I'm thinking something like buckwheat may be better. So, perhaps this is the way to go then.


    Treena

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Emmy View Post
    Thank you, Shingen!! Since I've got hip and back problems, I'm thinking something like buckwheat may be better. So, perhaps this is the way to go then.


    Treena
    I think you might be right there Treena. I did find that with buckwheat as well and the more solid base it created allowed for that stability over longer sittings. I also use a buckwheat pillow when sleep and that is one of the things I love about it.

    Gassho
    Shingen
    真 眼

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Hi again everyone, another quick question. My yoga instructor just informed me that she has meditation cushions for sale!! I have sat on them before, and they are very nice. They are not zafus though. Is this adequate for my sitting?


    Treena

  24. #24
    Senior Member ZenHarmony's Avatar
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    Hi, Treena!

    I have the same problems with my back and hips as you do, and I made my own zafu using buckwheat hulls. It could not be better and more comfortable, since you can "settle" your hips and pelvis into the zafu and it holds it stable. Have you tried sitting on these meditation cushions to see if it will support you for the duration of your sit? Only your body is going to be the deciding factor. Take care!

    Gassho,

    Lisa

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Emmy View Post
    Hi again everyone, another quick question. My yoga instructor just informed me that she has meditation cushions for sale!! I have sat on them before, and they are very nice. They are not zafus though. Is this adequate for my sitting?

    gassho
    Treena
    Hi Treena,

    The butt and back are the ultimate judge!

    However, many Yoga cushions I have seen are very thin. Actually, Chan sitters in China and Vietnam (and some other Rinzai folks) sit on cushions much like these, often piling two on top of each other.





    Some just take a Zabuton, and double it over ... but still seems too thin and not supporting the back ...



    However, I do not recommend so. My butt and back appreciate the ol' Zafu.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  26. #26
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Thanks Lisa and Jundo, I bought it and it is perfect for me. I think the reason I was having pain with sitting was not so much my hips and back, as the soft pillow I was using. I now look forward to doing zazen!!!


    Treena

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