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Thread: Buckwheat filled zafu - substitute

  1. #1

    Buckwheat filled zafu - substitute

    Hi,

    I think someone was asking about getting buckwheat hulls to fill a home-made zafu - someone suggested (un-popped) popcorn. Of course you need to close the overlap, you can sew it closed or use velcro?

    your frugal buddhist (usually),
    rowan
    who will try to fix her avatar so her pic shows!

  2. #2

    Re: Buckwheat filled zafu - substitute

    i don't know, wouldn't popcorn kind of pack together like a beany bag? -- i've got buckwheat hulls in mine, really like it, but i think the buckwheat hulls are able to slide over each other, allowing you to "rearrange" your zafu, kind of dig your butt into it til its comfy

    would love to find a cheap source of new hulls, as mine have leaked out over the years

    gassho, bob

  3. #3
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Buckwheat filled zafu - substitute

    Another concern is, given I don't know much about the properties of unpopped popcorn, whether that would start to stink and/or attract pests at some point?

    I'm not one to advocate mindless consumerism, but I think a well-made buckwheat filled zafu is a worthy investment. Of all the crazy stuff people try to sell "spiritual seekers" and "Buddhists" in the back of New Age magazines, I think meditation cushions are one of the very things that are practical and worth buying rather than trying to cobble one together on your own. If you get a good one, it will be much better made than what you're likely to come up with at home with a needle, thread, and your old sofa pillows :wink: I got mine in 2003 and it's still in great shape in 2008. I dropped $80 on the zafu and zabuton, and it has definitely been worth the investment. If you buy a good zafu and zabuton, it's also a great way to support a company or institution you think is a good one by purchasing a good product from them.

  4. #4

    Re: Buckwheat filled zafu - substitute

    Another concern is, given I don't know much about the properties of unpopped popcorn, whether that would start to stink and/or attract pests at some point?
    Not to mention if too much heat is generated :shock:

  5. #5
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Buckwheat filled zafu - substitute

    Quote Originally Posted by plankton
    Another concern is, given I don't know much about the properties of unpopped popcorn, whether that would start to stink and/or attract pests at some point?
    Not to mention if too much heat is generated :shock:
    LOL!! None of those Tibetan tummo (body heat raising) practices on a popcorn zafu! Unless you're just trying to show off! :mrgreen:

  6. #6

    Re: Buckwheat filled zafu - substitute

    i'm beyond frugal and way into cheap -- my main vehicle is a '77 chevy van(overheard comment in parking lot, "someone drove that from arizona? - i wouldn't drive that across town") -- i stll remember when my dad gave me my first roll of duct tape(really, he stole it off the job, where they actually used it on ducts),but i have to admit that even i put the bucks down for a decent zafu -- got mine at snow lion, in ithaca, a worthy cause -- i love how you can adjust it by how much hulls you've got in it -- i found that somewhere in between hard and too soft is good(well, that really narrows it down)

    true, you can sit on anything for a daily half hour sit -- its when you do a longer one that you want the right one for you -- i used to clean on the retreats, and i would see how people would start "modifying" their sitting set-up after a few days -- kind of like the princess and the pea

    yes, if you're gonna log a lot of miles, its worth it to get the best you can -- it helps if you are at a center where they provide a lot of different types of cushions, like at ims -- that way you can try different types out, under real conditions

    surprisingly, i spent one retreat on an inflatable zafu, and it was pretty good -- just a beach ball inside a zafu cover -- packs real nice for trips and hiking

    bob

  7. #7

    Re: Buckwheat filled zafu - substitute

    Hi again,

    Carolina Morning sells buckwheat hulls for any who wish to get them:

    http://www.zafu.net/

    When people talk about "really well-made zafus" I guess it's that since I sew, I know that a cushion cover is really a very simple thing. And decently sewn hand seams (done with strong thread) will outlast the fabric.

    "sofa pillows" I think were mentioned. Foam and polyester batting (what you find in most decorative and bed pillows) is not such a good choice for a non-buckwheat filling as they are meant to be poofy and relatively soft, which is why I suggested old clothes (also, part of an old blanket). Actually I had thought most people use kapok/cotton filled zafus at home. I am surprised that so many people prefer buckwheat. Myself, I use a floor chair at home and a short (because I am short) stool at retreats. I never have any pain at retreats and feel quite solid on my stool because it is short enough that my feet are firmly on the floor (about 12 to 14 inches apart, it gives a nice firm tripod effect). So I don't need to think about "should I change my position/cushion, etc for the next zazen period" when I am at a retreat.

    Also, extended sitting (one day,etc). I think most people find that a position that is comfortable for one to three sitting periods suddenly becomes excruciating later on. Don't know why.

    I think it would be good to point out that the cost of a commercially made zafu is one months (or more) wages in many parts of the world.

    gassho,
    rowan

  8. #8

    Re: Buckwheat filled zafu - substitute

    Of course, Zen Mountain Center has their space age version ... never used it myself, but I have heard good things ...

    http://www.dharma.net/monstore/category ... age=design

  9. #9

    Re: Buckwheat filled zafu - substitute

    Hi all,

    I got my buckwheat hulls from Burkitt Mills http://www.thebirkettmills.com/ and used a basic pattern like this one http://www.michiganbuddhist.com/zafu.htm. The nice thing about making your own is that you can fill it according to your comfort level. But of course, you may want to save your sewing skills for the rakusu. Of course, you can sew your zafu on a sewing machine if you have one.

    Gassho
    Linda

  10. #10

    Re: Buckwheat filled zafu - substitute

    Thank you Linda for the zafu instructions referral.

    gassho,
    rowan


    Quote Originally Posted by lindabeekeeper
    Hi all,

    I got my buckwheat hulls from Burkitt Mills http://www.thebirkettmills.com/ and used a basic pattern like this one http://www.michiganbuddhist.com/zafu.htm. The nice thing about making your own is that you can fill it according to your comfort level. But of course, you may want to save your sewing skills for the rakusu. Of course, you can sew your zafu on a sewing machine if you have one.

    Gassho
    Linda

  11. #11
    Treeleaf Unsui Shohei's Avatar
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    Re: Buckwheat filled zafu - substitute

    Yeah ummm... so my poor wonky zafu was suffering due to my poor design(and poor choice of stuffing).
    After reading here about a substitute filler i decided to try the popcorn kernels
    Yeah ... 20lbs of popcorn to be exact! it was the coolest toy my daughter ever had and it was Very comfy and quite supportive.
    that is until lastnights zazen... when It let go I finished my sitting then got up and put all the escaped kernels back in, fixed the hole, and then went on line and ordered a new one. im going to use the current one until its unrepairable and use the new one for when ever i travel or if i ever sit with a group.

    as always no point just thought I would share that

    Gassho
    Dirk

  12. #12
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Buckwheat filled zafu - substitute

    I sat for years on two bedpillows folded up, then finally a zafu (dunno if it's kapok or buckwheat hulls). After years of weightlifting and not sitting zazen, I'm not limber enough for a zafu. I think that technically, I never was. My legs went numb and painful in 25 minutes on the zafu in the past - and when I started sitting again, I could not even get my knees on the ground. Besides that, my hips and back were always crooked on a zafu.

    So...I wussed out and bought a bench. It's so nice to not have to grit and bear the pain at 25 minutes anymore. My girl calls it the 'lazyboy of zazen, though.

  13. #13

    Re: Buckwheat filled zafu - substitute

    I found a curious item that caught my eye. I recently purchased the 2009 Old Farmers Almanac. There is an article on milkweed therein, and quoting pg 54

    "Prior to the capture of Java and the Phillippines by the Japanese military in 1941, those islands provided the United States with kapok, which is silk floss derived from the silk-cotton trees that was used to stuff life preservers. In their search for substitute stuffing, American scientists learned that bunched milkweed floss floats and is warmer and much lighter in weight than wool." The government had citizens collecting milkweed pods, and it says further that a life jacket containing 1.5 pounds of milkweed floss could keep a 150-pound man afloat for up to 10 hrs.

    With the talk of buckwheat and kapok, I had thought kapok was another seed, rather than a silk floss type deal. I know it's probably not practical to collect milkweed pods, and I only have a handful of plants in the back of my lot; but just the same it's an an intriguing idea. :mrgreen: Ann

  14. #14

    Re: Buckwheat filled zafu - substitute

    Quote Originally Posted by chessie
    I found a curious item that caught my eye. I recently purchased the 2009 Old Farmers Almanac. There is an article on milkweed therein, and quoting pg 54

    With the talk of buckwheat and kapok, I had thought kapok was another seed, rather than a silk floss type deal. I know it's probably not practical to collect milkweed pods, and I only have a handful of plants in the back of my lot; but just the same it's an an intriguing idea. :mrgreen: Ann
    Hi Ann!

    Actually, I am planning on getting some kapok and using it as batting in a comforter (the only local retailer only sells it in 30 lb bales for about $100 a bale so I have to budget this in). Kapok is harvested off trees and is, from all I have read, great stuff ecologically. It looks like silk batting when you pull it out of the bag.

    back to your regularly scheduled zennie talk,
    rowan

  15. #15

    Re: Buckwheat filled zafu - substitute

    Quote Originally Posted by chessie
    I found a curious item that caught my eye. I recently purchased the 2009 Old Farmers Almanac. There is an article on milkweed therein, and quoting pg 54

    "Prior to the capture of Java and the Phillippines by the Japanese military in 1941, those islands provided the United States with kapok, which is silk floss derived from the silk-cotton trees that was used to stuff life preservers. In their search for substitute stuffing, American scientists learned that bunched milkweed floss floats and is warmer and much lighter in weight than wool." The government had citizens collecting milkweed pods, and it says further that a life jacket containing 1.5 pounds of milkweed floss could keep a 150-pound man afloat for up to 10 hrs.
    Hi Ann, My parents talk about collecting milkweed pods for life preservers during WWII. As far as using them for zafus, I think they probably would compress too much. You might have better luck with wool roving if you are going that direction. It's not free though.

    Gassho,

    Linda

  16. #16
    Ky?shin
    Guest

    Re: Buckwheat filled zafu - substitute

    I hope you don't mind me sticking this here ... it seemed better than starting a new thread. After using a household cushion for years I decided to get a traditional zafu and chose a Buckwheat one as I was given to suppose they are firmer. However having received it I'm not sure it is as full as it should be. I can plump it up into a comfortable enough shape but I wonder if it would be better topped up a little as i don't want to get a bad back. Any advice appreciated.

    I turned the zafu on its side to try and how show much of it is empty. Picture below:



    Attached files

  17. #17

    Re: Buckwheat filled zafu - substitute

    Yes, you have a definite case of saggy Zafu there. It needs to be firmed up. Where did you acquire the defective Zafu? Gassho, J

  18. #18
    Ky?shin
    Guest

    Re: Buckwheat filled zafu - substitute

    Thanks Jundo. It was from Blue Banyan (http://www.bluebanyan.co.uk)... not many options in the UK unless you want to pay expensive shipping. I've sent them an email to ask for some more filling. Will let people know how I get on if anyone is interested. The zafu itself seems fine - just under filled.

  19. #19

    Re: Buckwheat filled zafu - substitute

    Mine looks much the same, and I always thought it seemed a tad under-filled. Will have to see what my options are.

  20. #20

    Re: Buckwheat filled zafu - substitute

    There are some folks around here with experience, and some instructions, about how to fill a Zafu ...

    Anyone of our sewers?


    Gassho, J

  21. #21

    Re: Buckwheat filled zafu - substitute

    I've been using the same homemade Zafu for about 6 and half years now. Just recently a hole is starting to develop. I used kapok and it's still going. I also use another cushion under it, so I can get the height.

    I ripped the kapok out of a matress cover. It's usually the stuff that upholsters use in chairs and other furniture.

    G,W

  22. #22
    Ky?shin
    Guest

    Re: Buckwheat filled zafu - substitute

    Just to update, especially for UK folks, I wrote to Blue Banyan ((http://www.bluebanyan.co.uk)) and they have very quickly sent me tons more filling for my zafu and also some incense by way of apology. As such I probably wouldn't have any anxieties about ordering from them again.

  23. #23

    Re: Buckwheat filled zafu - substitute

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    There are some folks around here with experience, and some instructions, about how to fill a Zafu ...

    Anyone of our sewers?


    Gassho, J

    Um, you just shove more stuff into the opening on the side, then I recommend stitching the opening closed (nice 1/2 inch stitches, not tiny ones because you will have to open it again when it needs more stuffing). If you are using buckwheat or other small bits, you may need to stitch it closed with smaller stitches.

    If you are re-filling with kapok, it is very messy (and might be bad for pets) so do it on a cloth and/or outside? I think if you are refilling (supplementing) a kapok zafu and don't have kapok, you might try using bed pillow stuffing. It will have a little bounce/give to it even if you stuff it in firmly, which might be very nice. And pillows are fairly cheap from thrift/charity shops so it might be worth a try before you spend the bucks to get kapok shipped to you. Cotton batting is easier to find (at most fabric and quiliting shops) but is pricey and does pack down VERY firm (but maybe firm it what you want).

    Of course there are also air zafus (no, that is not a koan). Available at Zenworks (the merch business of Great Vow Zen Monastery in Oregon, USA):

    http://zendust.org/zenworks/supplies.htm

    Of course, air zafus are available elsewhere, google is your friend.

    cheers,
    Jinho

  24. #24

    Re: Buckwheat filled zafu - substitute

    Quote Originally Posted by Jinho
    Of course there are also air zafus (no, that is not a koan). Available at Zenworks (the merch business of Great Vow Zen Monastery in Oregon, USA):

    http://zendust.org/zenworks/supplies.htm

    Of course, air zafus are available elsewhere, google is your friend.

    cheers,
    Jinho
    Hi Jinho,

    The one you sent looks a bit sturdies that the ones with the inflatable kid's beachball inside (truly, that is what is inside). I take them sometimes when I travel ... but it is a little like sitting on a wiggly beachball!

    Gassho, Jundo

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