I am looking for first hand accounts of what might make a good sitting mat/cushion. I've been using regular bed pillows but the fabric in them has given way, offering little support aside from lumps of stuff. I looked around online, and the cushions sold are rather expensive, so I'd like some advice/input from people who have used specific cushions/equipment before I go and buy a glorified 80$ beanbag chair. Is there any one in particular that is worth the steep price tag associated with these products? What should I look for in particular? Is there anything I should look to avoid? I realize this is only tangential to the practice, but I couldn't think of anywhere else to ask such a specific question. Thank you.
I've been meditating for a couple years or so. I understand that, for sitting meditation (Burmese posture, half-louts, whatever), one should elevate the pelvis above the knees to gain a proper pelvis/spine posture. I've tried to use pillows, blankets, inflatable cushions, etc. Nothing that I tried to improvise worked for extended sitting (e.g. sitting for more than a few minutes). I have been sitting for an hour for a few months, and am gradually increasing the time beyond one hour. I finally bit the money bullet and bought a buckwheat hull Zafu from StillSitting. That purchase was well worthy the cost!! Yes, it's heavy; but,yes, it works great!! It perfectly supports the sitting bones and elevates the pelvis!! I put a folded (folded over half, I.e. one fold) ThermaRest Z-Lite backpacking sleeping pad on the floor; atop that I place a twice-folded yoga mat; atop that I place the Zafu. All of that supports my ankles, legs, knees and Zafu. I sit in what I call a quarter lotus posture. Note that one should sit on the front third of the Zafu, not in the middle. I also cut two discs from an old ensolite foam backpacking sleep mat, sized to the the diameter of the Zafu, and put those beneath the Zafu for a bit more elevation (~3/4"). That all sounds involve; but, hey, I can sit comfortably enough to allow for extending the sit time. HAPPY SITTING 👍
I lay out a yoga mat (1/2 inch thick) on the floor for cushioning my ankle(s), and a woollen blanket folded into an eighth to sit on. This is perfect for my sits for 2-3 hours. Both are very firm, and don't sag under my weight. As a bonus, if I am sitting for a long time through the night, it becomes my bed to sleep on when I am ready to sleep.
For longer sits, because I have a back condition I find a wall to lean against.
It's not uncommon here in India to find Brahmin priests who sit for long hours with crossed legs on the bare earth to develop hard calluses on the sides of their soles and ankles. It's a natural protection that works better than any zafu.