Buying a meditation cushion is a small investment but, in today's world of Internet shopping, there can be a lot of anxiety over making such a personal purchase. It's difficult to tell how a meditation cushion will feel based on a picture and equally difficult to tell what kind of quality we are getting.
Fortunately, at Sage Meditation, we've been making meditation cushions and other fabric products here in the United States since the 1980s, and all the products we offer come with a 30-day Return Policy. Also, since our mission has always been to support meditation practice, we offer a personal touch to all our customer service. If the cushion fails or doesn't seem to be working for you even after 30 days, we are willing to work with you to ensure you are happy and comfortable with your meditation product.
That being said, one frequent question we are asked is, "How long will my meditation cushion last?"
The easy answer is, "We're not really sure." That's mainly because we rarely hear from customers even years after they've purchased one of our meditation cushions. Of course, that doesn't mean the the cushions don't wear out. Everything wears out over time. It just means that they wear out so slowly and so insignificantly that we don't get many complaints. Here is what typically happens to our meditation cushions over time.
Fabric Stretch and Wear
The fabric we use on all our cushions and mats is 100% cotton twill. We do use some synthetic thread because it tends to be stronger than cotton thread. Because of the stress put on the fabric when sitting on the cushion, the cotton fibers slowly begin to stretch. The weight and strength of our cotton fabric resist stretching but, over time, it does relax. Because the fabric stretches over time, it doesn't hold the stuffing as tightly and the cushion will begin to flatten out. More on that in a moment. We surge stitch the edges of the fabric pieces to ensure they do not fray and eventually pull apart. And, again, we use some synthetic thread to keep the seams tight for many years.
As with any fabric product, some fading of the color will happen over time. The best way to limit this is to keep the cushion out of daylight as much as possible. If this can't be avoided, it can help to cover the cushion with another piece of fabric or blanket when the cushion is not in use.
If the cushion is being used for meditation and generally sitting in one place most of the time, the fabric will not wear thin. We use fabric that is similar in weight to denim to ensure it will hold up for the long term. With few exceptions, the Deluxe Zafu being one, the cushion can be turned over periodically to ensure even wear. The cover of the Deluxe Zafu fits with a top and a bottom. The bottom will not be as comfortable to sit on.
Kapok is a loose fiber similar to milkweed fibers but on a larger scale. Cushions filled with Kapok don't tend to break down so much as they lose their fluffiness, which is created by air trapped in the fibers. Kapok fibers are individual, loose fibers with an abundance of air surrounding them. Pressure on the Kapok fibers from sitting on them squeezes out this air. Over time, the kapok becomes more dense and the cushion flattens out. Regularly squeezing the cushion sides with open up the space between the fibers and fluff the cushion back up. Fortunately, the Kapok fibers do not breakdown or disintegrate very easily. They are quite strong and slippery.
Buckwheat Hull Breakdown
Buckwheat Hulls are the outer shell of the Buckwheat Grain. They have a similar shape to your hand when you form it into a cup. Though they are very hard, they are small and light. They have the consistency of small pebbles, nearly grains of sand, inside the cushion. Buckwheat Hulls do break down over time. The thin edge of the hulls chip off producing a kind of fine black powder. This black powder can pass through the fabric container of the meditation cushion. This has led people to believe that there might be bugs in the hulls but they are not bugs, just little black flecks that can resemble bugs.Even with these small breakages, the Buckwheat Hulls remain relatively in tact. It would literally take a hundred years for them all to reduce to powder. That's a lot of meditation.
Thought the Buckwheat Hull Meditation Cushion can slowly flatten over time, this is mainly due to the fabric relaxing, which makes a larger space inside the cushion. The only remedy is to add hulls to the cushion and this can be accomplished through a zippered opening in the fabric shell of the cushion - a feature on all our Buckwheat Hull cushions. When we make the meditation cushion, we fill it quite full. Some of the hulls can be taken out and saved in a plastic bag for future replenishment of the cushion.
Kapok versus Buckwheat Hull Meditation Cushions
To learn more about Kapok and Buckwheat Hulls, and why one might be preferred over the other, be sure to read this article on Kapok vs. Buckwheat Hulls.
Cotton Batting Breakdown
We use cotton batting to fill our Zabuton Meditation Cushion and our bodywork mats including the Personal Bodywork Mat, Shiatsu Massage Mat, and Thai Massage Mat. We use layers of 1-inch batting to create more strength in the batting. This ensures fibers are crossed over each other so there are no weak spots. We also pass tufting stitches through the batting and the covering to keep the batting in place and prevent it from bunching up into one corner or migrating away from the middle of the cushion or mat. Cotton is very strong. Try pulling a cotton ball apart with your fingers. The fibers grip to each other and are very resistance to sliding apart. The fibers can break over time but, with millions of fibers per square inch, it will take a very long time for them to disintegrate to the point of uselessness.
As with Kapok, cotton batting will retain air and, as the air is squeezed out from normal use, the batting will flatten out. The best way to ensure even wear is to rotate and flip the meditation cushion or mat. If they go flat, it is also helpful to shake and fluff the mat or cushion. This will restore the air that has been squeezed out.
While everything breaks down over time, meditation cushions, zabutons, and massage mats are quite durable and will take a significantly long time to break down to the point where they need replacing. Sage Meditation has thousands of customers and we rarely hear from them about cushions wearing out. In fact, we mostly hear from them when they want to update the color of an existing meditation cushion. For this reason, we offer replacement meditation cushion covers. On a few occasions we've heard from customers whose pets have had an accident on their cushion. For this reason, we also offer replacement Zabuton inserts - the most commonly damaged cushion by pet accidents.
Ultimately, the life of a meditation cushion depends on how often it is used, how it is used, and how well it is cared for.
I hope this information has been helpful in understanding the basics of meditation cushions.
Thank you for reading,
If you would like to comment on this blog or have any questions, please feel free to Contact Sage Meditation Customer Service.