US 20060037143 A1
Mediation sitting cushions and mats allow the user to meditate in comfort for great lengths of time, avoiding stress and pain often caused by traditional meditation cushions and mats. The layered mediation sitting cushions and mats combine a slow recovery visco-elastic foam (“VEF”), having load deformation properties and densities, with one or more base layers of a batting support. The sitting cushions and mats enable a person seated in traditional meditation positions to achieve a comfortable posture, regardless of the meditator's size or weight. The sitting cushions and mats also allow people to meditate in traditional cross-legged or kneeling postures comfortably, without irritation or pain. The mediation sitting cushions and mats also maintain of the pelvis in a neutral or slightly anterior position, resulting in proper alignment of the pelvis and spine, which minimizes the muscular and ligamentous strain caused by sitting in stillness for long periods of time.
1. A meditation sitting cushion comprising: an upper layer of slow recovery, low resilience, temperature sensitive visco-elastic foam; and a lower, less compressive supporting layer of material selected from a group consisting essentially of buckwheat hulls, spelt hulls and kapok natural fiber for providing provides a firm base of support, said lower layer and said upper layer being enclosed together in a cover material, said lower and upper layers adapted to maintain a proper alignment of pelvis and spine of a sitting user on said cushion.
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14. A meditation mat comprising: a layer of slow recovery, low resilience, temperature sensitive visco-elastic foam enclosed between an upper layer of cotton batting and a lower layer of cotton batting.
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22. A support for a user in a meditative state comprising: a sitting cushion on a mat; said sitting cushion comprising an upper layer of visco-elastic foam and a lower, supporting base layer of firm supportive material; and said mat comprising a layer of visco-elastic foam enclosed between layers of cotton batting.
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27. A method of meditation comprising the steps of: placing a round sitting cushion on a mat, said sitting cushion comprising an upper layer of visco-elastic foam and a lower, supporting layer of buckwheat hulls, and said mat comprising a middle layer of visco-elastic foam enclosed in layers of cotton batting; a user assuming a meditative sitting position on said sitting cushion and mat, said user positioning on said cushion at a location to maximize a surface area in contact with said cushion and to engage sitting bones of said user and tilting a pelvis of said user forward while creating a pocket that holds the pelvis in place, said upper layer of visco-elastic foam in said cushion and said middle layer of visco-elastic foam in said mat redistributing weight bearing surfaces and softening upon exposure to body temperature.
This disclosure relates to meditation supports, such as a meditation cushion or mediation mat, or a combination thereof, which incorporate a visco-elastic foam that promotes proper posture and comfort for sitting in meditation.
Historically, the sitting cushion used in meditation—called a zafu—has been round and low, frequently having dimensions of approximately 7 inches high and 16 inches in diameter. The traditional filling in zafus is kapok, a natural fiber obtained from Kapok tree seedpods. In the 2500 year history of meditation cushions, traditionally a meditation cushion is a single composite of cushioning material within an outer cover, not a cushion of layered materials.
A person mediating would typically be seated in a cross-legged fashion on zafus sitting cushion. In these postures, the legs are crossed or folded in front of the sitter in what is called “lotus posture” or one of its variations. The meditator's knees can rest on the floor and the cushion supports his or her sit bones. Alternatively, meditators use a kneeling posture called seiza. In this kneeling posture, the person's weight and bones which contact the cushion are again supported (by the cushion) which the meditator straddles.
Under the cushion is a meditation mat called zabuton. The typical measurements for such mats is approximately 32″ by 27″ and 3-6″ high. A traditional mat has cotton batting contained in a seamed natural or synthetic cover. The zabuton provides the meditator with a kind of “pillow” for the legs, giving some added support, warmth, and protection from the hard floor underneath. With prolonged use, the mat will eventually compress, becoming thin and less able to support the meditator's weight in a comfortable manner. Even when the mat is new and full, it lacks the ability to accommodate to the specific body weight of the meditator without over compressing, which results in the meditator's knees pressing against the hard floor.
Mediation cushions of kapok have commonly noted problems associated with their use.
There are two main reasons why sitting in meditation causes physical pain: First, the sitting bones are not elevated at the proper height. When the height isn't right for the individual, there is stress on knees and/or ankles that causes pain. Both too-high seats and too-low seats cause problems. In general, the more flexible an individual is, the lower the seat can be without causing difficulty.
Second, the sitting cushion is too hard. In this case the unforgiving material pressed against the buttocks blocks circulation, presses on nerves and causes discomfort and pain or complete loss of feeling.
The traditional material for meditation cushions is kapok. An individual kapok cushion can be adjusted for height and firmness by added or removing material. However, there is a limit due to the compressibility of the kapok itself. If a relatively high seat is required (as when the meditator has limited flexibility in hips and knees) the amount of kapok need to achieve that height is so great that it produces a seat that is extremely firm. The firm seat causes a problem because it is too hard.
This is the sitting cushion dilemma. If the cushion is stiff enough to give enough lift, it is also likely to cause pressure problems because of that very stiffness.
With buckwheat hulls it is possible to achieve greater lift with much less material, because the material does not compress. At the same time, as with a fully stuffed kapok cushion, a buckwheat hull seat is very hard and causes discomfort when used for extended periods.
Typically meditators deal with these limitations by shifting back and forth among imperfect alternatives, since difficulties usually take a few sitting periods to become extreme. Up until now the only other solution (which is not available to all) is to increase flexibility or lose weight to the point where a relatively soft kapok cushion is adequate to achieve a comfortable height.
Kapok-filled cushions are very firm initially, and soften gradually over time. Both the initial firmness and the long-term softness present physical difficulties for meditators. A new kapok cushion is usually too hard for most meditators. Its firmness frequently results in numbness to the legs and genitals lasting for the duration of the meditation period, and sometimes beyond. As the cushion softens, it loses its ‘loft’ and begins to sink. This results in a softer but lower cushion, which can cause additional strain on the bent knees and back from a lower than comfortable position. Although additional kapok can be added to the cushion, kapok does present certain hazards during handling. The fine cotton-like strands can be irritating when inhaled and thus necessitate the use of a mask when handling kapok.
Most significantly, the ever-changing nature of kapok leads to a constant variation in cushion density and height, which in turn results in less than consistent comfort for the meditator. Common complaints associated with the use of kapok-filled cushions include: back pain, knee pain (due to cushions that are either too high or too low), pain over the sacrum (tail bone) from pressure of the unyielding cushion, and numbness in the legs or genital area due to pressure on the sciatic nerve or other nerves running near the ‘sit bones’ that bear the weight in meditating.
Sitting cushions sometimes contain only buckwheat hulls and also generate common problems associated with physical discomfort, particularly numbness in the legs where the edge of the bucket-filled cushion contacts the sciatic nerve area under the buttock. In addition, pain in the sacral area or on the ‘sit bones’ themselves commonly occurs due to the unyielding nature of the buckwheat hulls. The buckwheat hulls, while having some ability to shift and ‘hold’ the weight of the person's buttocks, are a virtually incompressible material and thus ‘push back’ onto the offered weight, frequently creating discomfort.
Meditators typically sit completely motionless for some time, often approximately from 20 minutes to an hour. During longer retreats held periodically at meditation or religious centers and/or monasteries, meditators may sit for twelve or more 35-minute periods per day. Physical discomfort, which at times can be significant, frequently appears. The pain associated with meditation is most commonly present in the knees, ankles, hips, back and neck, and older meditators are particularly susceptible to it. However, younger people also have limitations such as previous injuries, arthritis, and/or chronic illness which create pain while sitting still for long periods of time. In addition, there is the general stiffness and discomfort that are the natural result of sitting still in one position over long periods of time. Lastly, meditating at all is difficult for some people, especially if they are unable to find a cushion and mat that will allow them to participate in the meditation sessions comfortably, without having to bear significant pain. For these reasons, there is at present a real need for a meditation cushion and mat that alleviate the discomfort associated with seated meditation.
It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide a meditation support which allow the user to meditate in comfort and avoid the stress and pain often caused by previously known types of cushions and mats.
It is also an object of the present invention to provide a meditation support to enable a person seated in traditional meditative positions to achieve a comfortable posture, regardless of the meditator's size or weight.
It is also an object of the present invention to provide a meditation support which maintains the pelvis in a neutral or slightly anterior position, resulting in proper alignment of the pelvis and spine during meditation.
It is yet another object to provide cushions and mats that allow meditators who have painful conditions and have no available means to meditate in the traditional cross-legged or kneeling postures, to be able to do so in a comfortable way as provided by the different and superior advantages of the present invention over previously crafted cushions and mats.
It is further an object to provide cushions and mats to meditators that accommodate the weight-bearing and weight-supporting body structures by maximizing the surface area that holds the weight in contact with the supporting cushion or mat during meditation.
It is also the object of the present invention to provide cushions and mats that prevent or limit numbness or pressure-caused pain in the knees, legs, genital and buttock, and thigh areas, by combining visco-elastic foam and supporting materials.
In keeping with these objects and others which may become apparent, the present invention includes a mediation support which includes a sitting cushion including a layer of slow recovery, low resilience, temperature sensitive foam and a layer of supportive material that provides a firm base of support. An optional mat includes a layer of slow recovery, low resilience, temperature sensitive foam, an upper layer of cotton batting, and a lower layer of cotton batting. Individually or in combination the cushion, and/or mat provide support for a user in a meditative state, with the spine in a comfortable position of alignment.
The cushion of the present inventions relieves pain that is unrelieved by traditional cushions. The cushion uniquely combines a soft flexible accommodative foam with a firm base of buckwheat that is supportive and maintains the essential height.
In that case, both pain sources identified above are avoided.
The new cushion design is a solution for those who are too heavy or too stiff to use kapok comfortably. It solves the problem by using a base layer that provides lift, while adding a surface layer that is so soft and enveloping that it creates no pressure points. The result, at last, is lift without pressure.
Of course, in a sense this is not an original principle. The traditional buggy seat or chair, in which a horsehair layer is positioned over a web of springs is another expression of the same principle of providing a supportive base with a cushioning layer. The difference in the present invention is that the cushioning layer is an ideal cushioning material, and the supportive base is a proven material. Either one of these alone is inadequate. The combination of these two is not likely, since the visco-elastic foam, in the context of sitting cushions, is far too soft and compressible to be considered a suitable meditation cushion material.
The present invention can best be understood in connection with the accompanying drawings. It is noted that the invention is not limited to the precise embodiments shown in drawings, in which:
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Mediation sitting cushion 1 and mat 10 combine a slow recovery visco-elastic foam (“VEF”), having load deformation properties and densities, with buckwheat layers, or similar materials such as kapok, buckwheat hulls, or cotton batting support. Meditation sitting cushion 1 and mat 10 enable a person seated in traditional meditative positions to achieve a comfortable posture, regardless of the meditator's size or weight. Meditation sitting cushion 1 and mat 10 also allow people who often have no other available venue to meditate in the traditional cross-legged or kneeling postures comfortably, without irritating or causing painful conditions.
Meditation sitting cushion 1 and mat 10 accommodate the weight-bearing and weight-supporting body structures by maximizing the surface area that holds the weight in contact with the sitting cushion 1 or mat 10 during meditation. Meditation cushion 1 and mat 10 also prevent or limit numbness, or pressure-caused pain, in the knees, legs, genital and buttock, and thigh areas, by combining visco-elastic foam and supporting materials.
Meditation sitting cushion 1 and mat 10 also maintain of the pelvis in a neutral or slightly anterior position, resulting in proper alignment of the pelvis and spine. Proper alignment minimizes the muscular and ligamentous strain caused by sitting in stillness for long periods of time.
Mediation sitting cushion 1, which may be provided in various dimensions, with different heights and amount of base material, such as for example, buckwheat hulls, may allow people of different body types, physical dimensions and different needs to find a cushion that provides maximum comfort.
Visco-elastic foam (VEF) is also known as “memory” foam and has an open-cell type of flexible polyurethane foam, which can redistribute weight of G-Force magnitude, while providing general comfort over long periods of time. VEF is typified by its slow recovery after compression. When a human body, or other weighted object, is positioned on VEF, the foam progressively conforms to the shape of the object. Once the weight is removed, the foam slowly resumes its initial shape, which allows sitting cushion 1 and mat 10 to be used by different mediators over time.
Although most urethanes form fast-recovery foams that have a force approximately equal to the load, VEF has the ability to absorb shock because of its low resilience, and lack of the ‘springiness’ of other polyurethane foams. In addition, VEF reacts to body heat given off by the user of the mediation sitting cushion or mat, and softens the VEF to more easily adjust to body contours of the user to provide comfort for long mediation periods.
The viscous response of VEF provides a relatively even distribution of the user's weight, while the elastic response allows the foam to support a static load of the user's weight. VEF materials “flow” away from the point of contact and redistribute under the applied pressure of the weight. However, the force that is the elastic component of the equation is not proportional to the displacement. Since VEF can distribute the weight more evenly, the user can avoid pressure spots that can restrict blood circulation in the load bearing areas and account for discomfort and fatigue.
Body accommodating and heat sensitive visco-elastic bearing meditation cushion 1, with its superior “buttock envelopment” properties, holds the pelvis in correct alignment. This alignment leads to decreased strain and tension on supporting neuro-muscular and connective tissue structures to hold the body still in meditative positions. Therefore, VEF is an excellent support surface for meditators, especially when combined with a stable but accommodative supporting material such as buckwheat layers, or similar materials such as kapok or buckwheat hulls (in the case of the meditation cushion 1), and cotton batting support (in the case of the meditation mat 10).
VEF provides many advantages for use in a mediation sitting cushion. VEF has a slow recovery upon load removal, and therefore it does not return stored energy (for example, applied body weight) to the next user. It has a slow conformation to static loads while retaining a natural resistance to bottoming out during higher, short duration dynamic loading (such as when a person sits down on a meditation cushion). VEF has temperature sensitivity (softening as temperature rises), which provides a desirable softer zone adjacent to the skin, supported by a stiffer region away from the skin. This increases the supportive weight-bearing surface, a critical feature that allows a maximum weight distribution away from the usual weight-bearing areas of the ‘sit bones’ and knees of the meditator. VEF may be use in different densities, and indentation load deflection values, and thickness of materials, which can combine to allow the use of the different foams for different load weights for meditation cushion 1 and meditation mat 10.
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It is further known that while the preferred embodiment is use of the combination of meditation cushion 8 and meditation mat 10 together, it is known that each can be used separately during meditation.
In the foregoing description, certain terms are used to illustrate the preferred embodiment. However, no unnecessary limitations are to be construed by the terms used, since the terms and illustrations are exemplary only, and are not meant to limit the scope of the present invention.
It is further known that other modifications may be made to the present invention, without departing the scope of the invention, as noted in the appended claims.