Welcome to this page, in which I will give you an overview of the tools that are available to help you in meditation.
Also – if YOU have ideas about other useful websites that can help us with meditation tools, and would like to Share them with everyone – then click here to get more information about that.
On this page I am also giving you complete instructions how to build your own Seiza Bench, which I am sure will be much cheaper (and probably more satisfying) than buying one.
(It is actually very easy to make one, and personally I find that a Seiza bench is a very comfortable way of sitting, that automatically tends to keep you in a good position with a straight back, and therefore with minimum fatigue.)
I have also spent a long time exploring the Internet, (and elsewhere from my own experiences), to bring you information about the best places to get all sorts of other useful tools – from cushions and Zafus to clothing and any other tools that I can think of,
– and with suppliers with great quality and good prices – that I think you would appreciate.
So – without more ado, let’s start of with –
Instructions for making your own Seiza Bench
This meditation tool traditionally is made of some sort of hardwood, (although I am sure that eventually there will be ones made from plastic….urgh !!)
So what you will need to make your own Seiza Bench is the following in the way of tools and materials –
1 length of any hardwood (such as Maple, Birch, Teak, Mahogany etc.) – (partly depending on your budget), that should have the following dimensions –
Length = 32 Inches ( or 82 Centimeters), Width = 9 or 10 Inches (23.5 to 26 Centimeters) – depending on whether you have a small or a larger sized butt ! Thickness = 1.5 or 2 Inches (4 or 5 Centimeters) – depending on what is available – (the 1.5 Inch thickness gives a lighter and cheaper bench, but is often unavailable).
A good wood saw of some kind – hand or machine.
Coarse, medium and fine sandpaper.
A tape measure, a pencil and ruler or something similar to draw straight lines.
A wood drill – hand or machine. Drill bits for wood – 3/8 inch (or 1cm) – at least 6 inches long.
4 Carriage Bolts – 3/8 inch (or 1 cm) thickness – 4 or 5 inches long, and with a domed or rounded head, as in this outline –
(Brass ones look especially nice, and you can often find them at a Yacht or boating shop – but they are a bit more expensive !)
A small set of Epoxy Resin and Hardener – usually two small tubes in a blister pack ( but NOT 5 Minute Epoxy – it sets too quickly !)
2 wood clamps.
I am sure that you will be able to borrow nearly all of these tools if you do not already have them.
Now study this diagram carefully, and when you are sure, start to draw the lines (shown in white on the plan), where you will be cutting your piece of wood.
Measure and draw the cut lines carefully on your length of wood (should be only 2 cuts – one straight across the wood, and another at a slight angle), and then cut when you are 100 percent sure.
As an old woodworking teacher of mine always used to say – “Measure twice then cut once !”
So now you should have one seat for the bench and two leg pieces.
Carefully clamp the two leg pieces together so that they match as much as possible, and then sandpaper any irregularities until they are both exactly the same size. (It often a good idea to match up two edges at first, then you will only have to sandpaper the other two edges at most).
Similarly sand the two end edges of the seat piece – not so they are perfect yet- but reasonably smooth.
Now put a clamp on each of the leg pieces, to hold them in an upright position about 18 inches (47 cm) apart and parallel with each other, with the angled cut edges uppermost.
Then put the seat piece on top of the leg pieces, and adjust until there is about 1 inch (3 cm) overlap at each end – (if you do not understand – then look at the first picture of a Seiza bench above, and it should become clear to you).
Now, carefully mark 4 drill holes for your bolts to go through the seat piece, and into the leg pieces, as in these two diagrams, the first one shows a side view – to show the direction of the drill holes (with the drill held exactly at right-angles to the seat surface) – and the second shows the view from the top, to give an idea about the placement of the holes on the seat.
This hole drilling will be very much easier if you get someone to carefully hold the pieces for you as you drill, (and make sure that the drill holes go into the leg pieces in the middle of their thickness).
Go slowly and carefully with this step – as you will only have huge problems if you make a mistake.
Gently move the drill around a little bit in the holes so that the holes are a tiny bit larger than 3/8 inch, and make sure that the holes in the legs are at least 3 and 1/2 inches deep.
Once you are done with all 4 holes, then gently insert the bolts onto them, with the seat in position, and if necessary enlarge and/or deepen the holes again until you can easily put the bolts in freely, and to their complete depth.
(If you have to tap the bolts in with a hammer the holes are too small – also try not to mark the heads of the bolts in any way, use a cloth or similar to prevent a hammer or any other tool from making any marks).
You can now paint the heads of the bolts any color if you wish – personally, I prefer to either just go over the heads with fine sandpaper to make them shiny and new looking, or else to paint them matte black.
Once you are sure that everything fits O.K. then you are ready to assemble the Seiza bench;-
Keeping the clamps on the legs so they are upright, mix the contents of the two Epoxy tubes together and put about a quarter of the total into each hole in the legs (each hole should be about half full)-
– then place the seat carefully on top so that the holes line up, and gently push each bolt into each hole and press down (or tap very gently) until the bolt heads are sitting firmly on the surface of the seat.
Now carefully wipe away any excess Epoxy from the top and also from underneath, and then leave the whole bench undisturbed for a full 24 hours for the Epoxy to harden and cure to full strength – making sure that everything is in the right position – legs parallel and exactly vertical etc.
After the 24 hours curing is complete, then carefully sand all the edges and corners until they are smooth and rounded (especially the front of the seat, where your butt and thighs will be on it).
Put the bench on a flat surface to make sure that it sits level, and doesn’t rock – sand the lower edges of the legs accordingly if it is not quite level.
Now you can paint the whole thing if you wish – either with a color, or personally I prefer two or three coats of a Urethane Satin finish – I think that it looks best, and brings out the grain of the wood well.
Then when the paint is completely dry, usually after 24 hours, you are ready to use the bench.
Kneel on a mat or carpet or similar, and place the bench across your lower legs, with the lower side facing towards your knees, and sit back on the bench
– adjust the position until you feel comfortable but sitting upright and straight,
(I find that if I am sitting on it with the bench at the level where about a quarter of the width is under my thighs, and the rest under my butt is the best for me),
see how it should be in the following picture –
It is also a good idea to put a small cushion or pillow on the bench before sitting – it prevents discomfort from sitting on it for 20 minutes or longer ! (The “numb bum” is avoided !)
So, you are now the proud owner of a new Seiza bench – for a fraction of the cost of buying one, use it and enjoy !
A Zafu is a sort of thick cushion, usually circular and filled with Kapok, that can be used to sit on – (usually in any of the variety of cross-legged positions).
It is usually too thick to be used on your Seiza bench however.
Zafus originated in China and Japan, and nowadays are used mainly by Zen practitioners.
Many different companies selling meditation tools sell Zafus, but it is also fairly easy to make your own – for a good description of how to do this, click on the following link – MichiganBuddhist.com – and then click on their page called Zafus.
In the Zen tradition, a Zafu is most commonly used on top of a padded mat, this mat tool called a Zabuton, to give soft support to the feet and knees.
Traditionally it is 30 inches (76 cm) X 28 inches (71 cm), and the outer cover is made from some kind of heavy duty fabric, with a zipper down one side to remove and clean the contents, which are usually made from cotton batten or some other similar filling.
Of course this is also useful underneath a Seiza bench, or if you are sitting on the floor in any cross-legged position to meditate.
It is also possible to make your own Zabuton – a good resource for that is http://zen.columbia.missouri.org/pics/zabuton.jpg and many other meditation tool stores have them for purchase.
Other meditation tool aids
There are many companies that offer assorted and different meditation tool aids of one kind or another, that are easily available through the Internet.
I have explored most of these, and one of the best offers a large range of accessories and tools – and their prices are very competitive.
They also have a large selection of very well made clothing for meditation – including shawls, robes, cloaks etc., plus an excellent variety of other neat accessories such as Meditation gongs and bowls and bells, statues, and all sorts of things suitable for your meditation room.
You can check out what they have by clicking on this link;- http://www.dharmacrafts.com I think that you will be pleasantly surprised by their variety and prices.
Of course there are also many other companies offering Guided Meditation CDs and MP3 downloads, but quite honestly, on checking the Internet, the prices of my own Guided Meditation CDs and MP3 downloads are cheaper by far than the majority – yet the quality and effectiveness of them is excellent – all my feedback confirms that.
You can check on these Guided Meditation tools on my CD and MP3 page, and also the Fantasy Meditation page on this website, for a better overview, I also have several FREE Meditation Music MP3s and one FREE Chakra Guided Meditation MP3 for you – (click on the navigation buttons on the top left of each page to go to them.)
I want to also mention another very useful meditation tool aid – especially if you are using any kind of Mantra in your meditation practice.
A Mala is a string of (usually) 108 beads – (actually the precursor of the more modern Christian Rosary) – that is used to count the number of repetitions of the Mantra being used – click on my website page about Tibetan Buddhism for more about Malas.
They are used extensively in Tibet and India, and to a slightly less extent in the other Buddhist countries of the world.
Traditionally they are made from special materials – such as the semi-precious stone Lapis Lazuli, or Sandalwood, or seeds from certain plants and trees that have special religious significance, and many other interesting materials such as Yak bone.
There is something very special about handling an old Mala – that may have been used for a monk or someone else to repeat several millions of repetitions of a sacred Mantra – it seems to take on a spirituality of its own, quite apart from the delightful smooth patina from frequent handling.
Another feature about Malas is that when you have one, and are using it regularly for Mantra meditations, it quickly becomes like a strong calming and grounding force in itself – just touching your Mala in your pocket will defuse and minimize any tension-making situations for you.
There are many websites that offer a few Malas for sale, but there is one that outshines all of the others – it is basically only about Malas.
Actually it is run by a someone called Brian McIntyre, who is a friend of a very close friend of mine in Canada.
It is called DESTINATION Om Custom Malas and Prayer Tools – and Brian travels extensively in Asia and collects Malas and Prayer beads and also fashions them into Malas himself – To visit his website Click www.destinationom.com for details on how to buy a custom Mala, watch instructional videos, or read various writings on the meditative experience.
He has a mind blowing variety of Malas from all over Asia – very much worth a visit – to see the incredible variety of Malas that there are, and all of the great information and photos of Malas, (and also the photos of his travels to find them !) that he has on his website!
I think that this gives a pretty good overview of the main available tools to help with meditation – but if any of you come across some super-wonderful website about tools – then please let me know by telling me about it using one of the suggestions forms on several of the pages on my website ( including this one), or else in the Your Thoughts section below – thanks in advance.
What Other Visitors Have Said about this topic.
Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page…
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I just finished making my new seiza bench out of oak. It had always been on my to-do list to make one but I was never really sure how to go about it