I wrote a few weeks ago about the Kindseat, which is a new design of meditation seat that allows for both cross-legged sitting and kneeling (seiza) positions. It’s undoubtedly the most comfortable meditation seat I’ve ever used, and I can’t imagine ever needing another meditation bench. I wish I had two: one for home, and another for the office, where I often sit.
I’ve been through a number of meditation seats in the last 30 years. I had a couple of home-made benches, but those were non-adjustable. For shorter periods of meditation, they would be fine, but on meditation retreats, when I was doing a lot of sitting, I’d discover that neither the angle nor the height was right, and I’d end up in a lot of pain. And there’s no way to adjust them.
A few years ago I got a meditation bench with adjusters that let me tinker with both the height and the angle, by adjusting the height of the front adjusters relative to the rear ones. This was much better on retreats, but still not ideal. For one thing, I needed to take a wrench on retreat with me! For another, it was easy to end up with the left and the right at different heights. I’d have to draw marks on a wall to make sure that all four adjusters were at the appropriate heights. But the main drawback, I realize now, is that there’s no “give.” Once you’d set the height and angle, that was it. Shift your weight, and the bench is unyielding below you. (Oh, and the hardware tended to clank, which isn’t ideal when you’re trying to leave the meditation hall quietly while others are continuing to meditate.)
The Kindseat solves of these problems. The seat is suspended on “webbing” (the tough polypropylene straps that are used on backpacks, and which climbers trust their lives to every time they put on a climbing harness). The length of the webbing determines the height of the seat. The height is easily changed by altering the length of the loops of webbing — and there’s a handy “ruler” on the seat to help you get both the left and right at the same height Your body causes the seat to tilt, so there’s no need to make any adjustment.
And the seat is responsive. I’d never quite twigged to this before, but if you move your bottom forward or backward on a sloping seat, the angle of the seat needs to change. Even if you narrow or widen the gap between your left and right knees, the angle of your pelvis changes and you need a different angle on your seat. The Kindseat moves with you! Move forward or back, and the seat changes its angle automatically. Spread your knees, or bring them together, and again the angle automatically changes. The Kindseat is so responsive it’s as if it’s part of you.
But at the same time it’s firm and supportive. There’s no sense of wobbling or instability.
And there’s no clanking.
The Kindseat comes apart in seconds, and you don’t need to adjust the straps when you’re putting it back together again. There’s a push-button catch on both straps that lets you release the legs
My one criticism last time was that the dangling straps looked a bit ugly. But that problem’s been fixed.
Then there’s the Kindkushion (OK, I have another “kriticism” here — I don’t like the funky spelling). It’s a marvel. Sitting on wood for a long time? That’s going to get uncomfortable. So you need a cushion. But there’s a problem with having a cushion on a sloping, polished piece of wood, which is that it slides. the Kindkushion has a special material on the bottom surface that is slightly tacky, and prevents the cushion from moving. This thing has been beautifully thought through.
And the design is beautiful. If IKEA made a meditation bench, it would look like this. If Steve Jobs had designed a meditation bench, it would have looked like this but would be made in brushed aluminum and glass, and would come in wifi or cellular varieties. (Now there’s an idea — a meditation bench that logs your meditation practice for you by connecting to your smartphone via Bluetooth.)
Up until now, people in the US and Canada have had to have Kindseats shipped from the UK, where they are made. But we now have the Kindseat (and cushion) available in our store, for the benefit of those in North America (although we ship worldwide).
As one Kindseat user said, the seat may seem expensive at first, but it’s how much many people spend on lattes in a couple of months. You’d pay more than this for an iPod touch, and it would be obsolete in two years. You’ll still be using the Kindseat decades from now.
The Kindseat is a wise investment. When you meditate, you don’t want to be concerned about discomfort building up due to bad posture. You just want to meditate. You don’t want to have to pay for massages and chiropractors after retreats to get rid of the knots of tension between your shoulder blades. And you certainly don’t want to be giving yourself knee problems due to meditating.
Getting a Kindseat may be one of the kindest things you could do for yourself and your meditation practice.