There is the common misconception that in order to meditate, one must contort oneself into a kind of human pretzel.
And while discomfort can be a very useful tool for focusing the mind, bodily origami is far from an obligatory practice.
The simple act of sitting on a normal chair, as I outline in this article on meditation, is more than adequate, and if you’d like to delve deeper into other seated positions for meditation you can read about them in our article on zazen meditiation.
Falling asleep during meditation seems to be far too easy for me, so I like to add a little bit of instability in order to keep me focused.
I love the idea of simply sitting cross-legged on the floor, but sadly, my buttocks and my hips do not.
Investing in a zafu cushion has been a game changer for creating suitable meditation positions as it lift the hips higher than the knees. Adopting a hip elevated position seems to be a fairly universal recommendation for sitting meditation.
Over time I have oscillated between the Burmese position and the kneeling Seiza position, but increasingly I favour the seiza.
The zafu works well enough for this position but a stool designed specifically works even better for me.
I’ve tried a number of different designs but have finally settled on one that I like best.
As always, being a skin-flint I balk at the prices of these benches in the shops and so have always made my own.
The good news is that they are pretty simple to make and relatively cheap. So without further ado, here is the step by step process of making a folding meditation stool.
The beauty of the folding variety is both the space saving capability when not in use, and the handy portability. With the added handle you can prance around your local yoga studio or wholefoods store and be the envy of all your hipster friends.
The Folding Meditation Stool
For this meditation stool you will need:
- Approximately 1m length of 150mm x 25mm (6″x3/4″) wood
- 2 x 3-4″ butt hinges
- 20mm (3/4″) woodscrews
- Small gate handle (optional)
- Self adhesive Velcro strips or small hook and eye latch (optional)
- Self adhesive felt (optional)
- A saw
- A screwdriver
- A pencil
- A tape measure
- Some sandpaper, if you want to sand it.
I fortunately had some boards of larch off-cuts that were the correct dimensions, but it’s pretty easy to come by in most hardware stores. You may have to buy a length that will be enough for 2 stools. Give one to a friend.
Depending on the smoothness of the wood you might want to sand it down. It’s much easier to do it now or at least after cutting the components.
As I literally perch my arse on this for only 20 minutes a day, I don’t spend a huge amount of time on sanding.
First off, cut the seat section off at about 55cm long.
Next, you need to cut the legs.
For the perfect hip alignment we want to angle the seat so that the front is lower than the back. I favour an angle of about 12 degrees.
To do this you are going to cut a slant at one end of each leg.
Cut the remainder of the board to a length of approximately 40cm. Measure along one of the long edges 22cm. Now do the same on the other long edge except this time measure from the other end.
Join these two points up with a pencil. When you cut along this line you should end up with 2 legs that are 22cm along one edge (the back edge) and about 18cm along the front edge. If it looks about right, go ahead and cut it. It will about a 12 degree angle.
As I am cutting mine on a chop saw, I set the saw angle to about 5 degrees off of square. This gives my legs a slight outward angle. It may make the stool slightly more stable but it’s not super important.
Next I mark a point 2.5cm from each end of the seat piece, on the underside.
Now align the long section of the leg along the edge of the seat, with the corner of the angled cut at the 2.5cm mark.
Use the angled cut as a template to draw an angled line on the underside of the seat.
If we just attached the legs at right angles to the front of the seat edge the leg would not nestle neatly under the seat, and would stick out when folded. The line we have just drawn is what we shall align our leg with.
Before you continue just offer up the legs onto the seat to check the alignment. The legs should angle downwards and inwards from the front to the back, i.e the seat will slope down towards the front and the gap between the legs is wider at the back than the front.
Now stand the leg up on the seat with the longest edge in line with the back edge of the seat and the outside of the leg positioned along the line.
Now position one of the hinges on the inside of the leg, roughly centred, and mark the screw holes onto the underside of the seat.
You can now remove the leg and screw the hinge to the seat.
Once this is done you can return the leg to the position and screw the hind to the inside of the leg.
Now repeat this on the other leg and you are pretty much done.
For added swank, ease of carrying, and perhaps a handy way of hanging the stool for storage, I have added a simple handle to the back edge of the seat. This is totally optional but nice.
To stop the legs from swinging about as you prance around town with your new meditation stool, you need a means of fixing them in place.
The easies method is to use some self adhesive Velcro tabs on the seat and legs.
A much more elegant way to solve this issue is to use a couple of hook and eye latches. I bought these ones for a couple of quid.
I also like to add some adhesive felt strips on the bottom of the legs to avoid scratching wooden floors. Again this is optional. I mainly use mine on a padded zabuton anyway.
If the whole angling the orientation of the legs thing is confusing you, you could always opt for turning the legs upside down so that the angled cut is at the bottom. This negates the issue of the legs poking out when folded. I do find this slightly less stable when used on a polished floor though. There is a tendency for the stool to slip backwards at you get on it.
Now it’s time to test it out. Kneel down and place the stool over the tops of your calves, ensuring the legs are fully opened. Gently sit back onto the seat and instantly find enlightenment.
And that’s it. You now have a stylish space saving meditation stool for less that £20.
You root chakra has never been so well treated.
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