Thinking about trying meditation? If, so, it may help to have some meditation tools at your disposal. A meditation cushion or a meditation chair, for example, can help make your practice more comfortable and relieve some of the stress of sitting for long periods of time.
Below, we’ve provided a list of the best and most useful meditation gifts available. These items make excellent presents for someone in your life who is thinking about starting a meditation practice. Or, if you are considering it on your own, these can be great gifts to buy yourself as well.
Before we begin discussing the best meditation gifts, however, here's a bit of information about meditation in general and what you should know as a beginner to the practice.
Meditation Tips for Beginners
Whether you’re thinking about starting a meditation practice on your own or you know someone who is, know that this is an extremely wise decision to begin with. Meditation is a worthwhile practice for anyone looking to find more mental clarity and inner peace. It is a tool that anyone can use any time, and the rewards you can reap are immeasurable.
Why try meditation?
Meditation helps you wake up and become more curious about yourself and the world around you. It can help you let go of anxiety, and it can help you be free of unnecessary stress as well.
In addition to helping you feel more focused and centred overall, recent research on the effects of meditation has even proven that regular meditation can “increase the brain's ability to process information.”
Why mention this?
Before we go further, it may be useful to talk a little about what it will take to start your own practice (or help a friend start theirs). Here are the top meditation tips we recommend for beginners.
1. Learn from experts.
Many people want to know what the purpose of meditation is — or even what the main goal is.
But meditation, on the whole, can be quite difficult to accurately define.
Overall, it can basically be defined as sitting on a meditation pillow (or zafu) and cultivating a quiet time in which you attempt to increase your awareness and quiet the mind of frantic thoughts and feelings. Still, it's not about checking out entirely, and it certainly isn’t about "not thinking." Thinking is okay during meditation … but you also to notice when you think and why you think. It's important to be aware of your thoughts … but not to linger on them.
We certainly aren't trying to confuse here. Instead, we are trying to convey just how complicated the practice of meditation can be and why, if you’re a beginner, learning from an expert is wise. While you can find a plethora of information online about how to meditate, an actual meditation teacher has a deep understanding of the practice. They are the best resource for learning the true spirit of the practice.
2. Schedule your time on the meditation cushion.
While it may be your generalized goal to practice meditation every day, you’ll never just randomly “find time” to make your way to the meditation mat. Instead, you have to schedule it — just like you schedule everything else in your life: exercise class, meetings at work, dental appointments, etc.
The good news is, if you lead a busy lifestyle, there are a few ways to make your “appointments” with your meditation pillow much more likely to happen. For example, if you’re always on the go, you can squeeze in private meditation sessions conducted virtually via our streaming service.
On the other hand, if you’re not sure when you’ll be able to squeeze in your meditation sessions from day-to-day, but you want to have a consistent practice, try Anahana’s Meditation On-Demand services. It’s on-demand meditation guidance and instruction, customized to your goals, and according to your schedule.
3. Practice in a place you feel comfortable.
Your meditation practice will inevitably be more successful if you promote a comfortable and relaxing space. In this space, you can have your meditation mat, meditation cushion/meditation pillow, and all other accessories and surroundings required for the cultivation of a strong practice. For many people, the ideal space is their own home.
Simply book an in-home meditation session with Anahana, and your meditation instructor will come to you. This will make your meditation experience more convenient, and it will make it more likely that you’ll follow through with your practice.
4. Meditate with others.
In the Buddhist tradition, a sangha is a community of spiritual practitioners who meditate together. Of course, they also practice the Dharma of Buddhism together and foster an awareness of love, harmony, and mutual understanding. While it may not be possible for you to actually develop or participate in a sangha in your own community, you can still tap into the essence of this idea by practicing meditation with others.
Anahana offers personalized, on-demand meditation services. If you'd like to include a group of friends, coworkers, or family members in your meditation practice, just let our experienced instructors know, and we can cater your meditation services to meet your needs.
Meditation Gift Ideas
From a zafu and zabuton, to a sage smudging stick and a Tibetan singing bowl, here are the best meditation gifts for the beginning meditator in your life.
1. Meditation Cushion
Your meditation cushion will probably be the most important item in your meditation space. Believe it or not, it can be quite physically demanding to sit for meditation, especially as you advance to sitting for longer periods of time. Your meditation cushion will provide you with a firm but comfortable surface to rest on during your practice.
Your meditation cushion may come in the form of a zafu (see below), or it may take another shape. For example, you can also purchase what’s called a Zen cushion or Zen pillow. In fact, you can even use a regular couch pillow as a meditation cushion when you're just starting out. As you improve your practice and lengthen the amount of time that you sit, however, you’ll want to invest in a regular meditation cushion that’s built for the practice.
You'll need one because, in many ways, a meditation cushion is different than a regular couch cushion. For one thing, it is firmer. Most meditation cushions are full of buckwheat (or sometimes beans). The goal of your cushion is to keep your knees lower than your hip bones, so it has to be firmer. This is especially true for the most common meditation position: cross-legged and with your knees resting down in front of you.
What is a zafu? This funny name may sound like it’s referencing something from outer space, but a zafu is really just a type of meditation pillow or meditation cushion. A traditional zafu is generally circular, and it is usually particularly firm so that it can support you during your practice.
In particular, you want your zafu to support your hip joints being able to rotate easily outward, and (as stated above), it should help your knees rest lower than your hips. This will make sitting for long periods of time much more comfortable. If your knees are higher than your hips (as is the case when sitting cross-legged on a flat surface like the floor, for example), your sacrum will be positioned either vertically or even tilted backward. Instead, you want your sacrum to be tilted at a 30° angle while you sit.
Like other meditation cushions, most zafu pillows are full of buckwheat hull. You can choose the color, design, and fabric that you want for your zafu. There are a variety of options available to meet your unique taste.
A zabuton goes along with a zafu most of the time. In fact, a zafu and zabuton set is a common choice when it comes to meditation seating. This is often what you’ll see set up for practitioners in meditation centers as well.
Zabutons are a type of meditation mat, in that it is meant to settle beneath a zafu or other meditation pillow in order to cushion the knees and feet. Depending on the position you choose to take on your zafu, a zabuton can provide added comfort and stability. It is essentially the foundation for a zafu. Like zafus, zabutons come in a variety of colors, designs, and fabrics. They are usually filled with a poly-fill similar to regular pillows.
4. Meditation Chair
Some individuals may desire a meditation chair over a meditation pillow or meditation cushion (zafu or Zen cushion). In this case, you can indeed use a regular chair to sit in, but as is the case with using a couch pillow, you'll want to advance to a legitimate meditation chair as you continue your practice.
Many individuals who find it difficult to kneel, bend their knees, or sit on the ground for long periods of time will choose a meditation chair over a meditation pillow or meditation mat.
What is a meditation chair? A meditation chair can come in a range of styles. Often, it looks like a regular, comfortable chair with a back and legs, but the key difference is that the legs are extremely short. Perhaps, for example, it will only rise four to eight inches off the ground.
What’s common among all meditation chairs is that they put you in an optimal position for meditating comfortably. There are different designs available to help with different postures and possible physical difficulties that may make a meditation cushion impossible to use.
5. Meditation Mat
A meditation mat may be a zabuton (see above), or it can be similar to a yoga mat. Most importantly, a meditation mat goes beneath a meditation pillow or cushion to provide a foundation for the cushion. If you are sitting cross-legged, your knees can rest on the meditation mat for added comfort.
6. White Sage Smudge Stick
Many meditation instructors and practitioners will burn sage before meditating. It is known as a useful way to open up the senses and encourage clarity and focus. If used for meditation, the burning of sage is called a “smudging.” The smudging ritual aims to cleanse the energy in your space. The practice involves lighting the sage with a match and letting it gently burn for a few moments. The sage can then be gently waved until a stream of smoke begins to come off the sage. The comforting, calming scent is perfect for beginning a meditation session.
7. Meditation Timer
Most meditation sessions are timed, but if you are meditating alone or in a small group without an instructor, you'll need to time yourself. This means investing in a meditation timer for yourself or whomever you are offering a meditation gift to.
Meditation timers can be regular kitchen timers or watch timers. You can even use the timer on your phone. Still, it's even better to find a timer that you designate especially as your meditation timer. It’s generally good practice to keep your phone out of your meditation space as it can be a distraction if you’re constantly getting notifications.
Moreover, it’s good if your meditation timer has a soft and delicate alarm so that you are not awoken out of your meditative state to a loud and abrasive sound. A bell or soft gong sound can be good to come out of meditation to.
If you’d like to go with something analog (non-digital), you might consider a sand timer or hourglass. Just be sure you know how long the hourglass runs for. Alternatively, you can try a lighted timer (one that lights up, turns a light off, or changes colour when the time is up).
8. Tibetan Singing Bowls
The sound of Tibetan singing bowls is one that can calm you in an instant. That’s why they’re perfect for getting into the spirit of meditation. Tibetan signing bowls range in shape and diameter. Often, several will be used at once during Buddhist religious ceremonies or as accompaniment for chanting. A mallet is used to play the bowls and make them sing. The mallet can be guided around the bowl rim, or it can be used to gently strike the bowl.
9. Meditation Shawl
Some people may find it comforting to wear a meditation shawl while they meditate. Even though it’s not absolutely necessary, a body-covering meditation shawl (also known as a meditation blanket or prayer shawl) can shield the body, providing additional comfort and a sense of security while meditating. Some practitioners like meditation shawls because they believe the closeness of the covering cultivates the accumulation of energy that is created during meditation.
Thinking About Starting a Meditation Practice? Here Are the Top 10 Benefits
It can be intimidating to start a new practice, but meditation can benefit anyone and everyone. Here are the benefits you can expect from starting a new meditation practice.
1. Enhanced self-awareness
3. Better stress management
4. Reduced anxiety
5. Better sleep
6. Deepened emotional health
7. Improved memory and overall cognitive function
8. Lengthened attention span
9. Better breathing and lung capacity
10. Reduction of the fight or flight response
Destress and Unwind Your Mind With Meditation
Want the ultimate meditation gift? Those new to the practice will find the most benefit in just 25 minutes of guided meditation with an experienced yoga instructor. This can be found in Anahana’s Unwind Your Mind service — 25 minutes of wonderful relief from the stressors and daily anxiety of life. It’s all built into one easy, virtual session that you can do at home.
Unwind Your Mind was created with individuals like you in mind — those who lead busy, demanding lifestyles but who are looking for ways to unwind and re-centre through meditation practice.
Not only does meditation offer this respite, it can drastically change your life in other, amazing ways you’d never imagine. Take the first step today and unwind your mind with one of our highly skilled and experienced instructors as your guide.
It’s the ideal gift for someone looking to embrace the practice of mindfulness and meditation. It’s the ideal gift for you.
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Written by Clint Johnson
Clint teaches Yoga, Pilates, breathe, and mediation to students and teachers all over the world. Prior to joining the wellness world, CJ as his friends call him, started his career as a MBS derivative trader and portfolio manager on Wall St. Clint is the founder of Anahana, and holds an MBA from INSEAD.