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I like to get in a few good stretches and snag some peaceful, still moments — but I’m not quite a professional yogi.
I usually just throw a yoga mat on the floor (one that I probably scored for a discount at my local T.J. Maxx), hit “spa sounds” on any audio app on my phone, and, boom, I have a calming meditation setup in seconds — right at home.
Although I’m not aiming for a Pinterest-worthy home meditation studio, my method could admittedly use a little sprucing. One way to do that is by adding a meditation pillow.
After all, let’s face it: if sitting crisscross on the floor has your knees stiff and your back tight, the last thing you may want to do is meditate in that position.
Now that I’ve plopped myself down on five meditation pillows, I have some thoughts. Plus, I chatted with Nicole Dunlap, a meditation teacher and the founder of Tranquil Fern, to learn more about meditation in general and to get her take on what makes a meditation pillow right for you.
I personally use meditation to feel centered, aware, and calm; basically, it helps me reduce stress. If time is a factor, I’ll steal just a couple of minutes to pause or “reset.” I find myself feeling more collected and refreshed afterward.
Having a pillow dedicated to these moments has been a fun form of self-care. When I’m sitting on the pillow, my intention is to be still and quiet. It’s like a positive and intentional time-out.
In fact, when I tested these pillows, I set an intention for my time on them. For example, I’d sit down and focus on gratitude, prayer, or just my breath.
After chatting with a meditation teacher, it sounds like I have the right idea.
Dunlap uses meditation, yoga, and art as tools for self-discovery and better living.
She tells me that, while there are many techniques and styles within the practice of meditation, you often simply choose a point of focus, like your breath. You then practice bringing your awareness back to your point of focus over and over again.
“Your awareness will stray to thoughts in the mind or distractions in your space,” she says. “That’s totally normal. Meditation is not about erasing your mind of any thoughts; it’s the practice of observing the mind in its natural form.”
She says it’s more about not allowing your thoughts to take you spiraling with them down a rabbit hole. Instead, you just observe your thoughts and bring your awareness back to your point of focus and the present moment.
Give it time
Of course, all of this is easier said than done.
“It takes time to settle into your practice,” Dunlap says. In fact, even those who practice for years can still feel uncomfortable with it at times.
She explains that meditation isn’t about an “eyes-closed” experience. But rather, it’s about the “eyes-open” experience — meaning “it may not always feel like you’re doing much when you’re sitting in stillness, but your life outside the practice will still benefit.”
For the perfectionists out there, myself included, I had to wonder: can we get it totally wrong?
However, Dunlap assures that meditation is not something you can do wrong or even badly (whew!).
“Truthfully, it’s all about showing up,” she says.
“You may think that, if your mind is noisy, you aren’t good at meditating. But your mind is busy because you are a human, and meditation is called a ‘practice’ for a reason.”
As long as you show up and give it your best shot, Dunlap says you’re doing great.
If you’ve browsed for meditation pillows already, you know there are about a million options. And, honestly, they all look pretty good. So how do you pick one?
The pillows I rounded up come in all different shapes and sizes. You’ll see circles, squares, v-shapes, and more.
There are also different firmness levels and materials to consider — some are made of solid memory foam while others have special beads or filling inside, reminiscent of bean bag days.
It’s also important to keep in mind the space you plan on meditating in.
Some meditation pillows are convenient for traveling because they’re more compact, with built-in handles. Others are meant to stay put at home because they’re heavier and take up more space.
I found that my personal preference for meditation pillows is a square shape and buckwheat filling (think of a supportive bean bag) with a soft-pillow top feel. But I got some good sitting with all the pillows I tried.
- $ = under $70
- $$ = $70–$90
- $$$ = over $90
Brentwood Home Crystal Cove Square Meditation Cushion
- Price: $$$
- Shape: Square
Spoiler alert: this pillow is honestly one of my favorites — if not my top choice.
This pillow means business. It’s handmade and is a large square shape — 27 inches long, 27 inches wide, and 2 inches high — so it commands its own unique space.
It has two handles for moving it around. But, weighing in at 17 pounds, it’s definitely not the best for travel.
While there are many reasons to love it, what I love most is how supportive it is. I found that I could get the most meditation minutes out of this pick — staying comfortable on it the longest.
Although it’s sturdy and supportive, it also has a cozy vibe. It’s made with vegan buckwheat fill inside an inner Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified cotton liner. The removable outer cover is where the cozy part comes in. It’s soft and gentle, made with cotton and some stretchy spandex.
Reviewers love that it’s built to last, noting that it hasn’t lost its support over time. Some don’t love the “bead” feel from the vegan buckwheat filling, but this comes down to your preference — deciding between bean bag-like filling or dense, memory foam helps you narrow down your options.
Overall, this pillow lands at the top of the pricing guide, but with reason: it’s strong, supportive, and made to last.
Hugger Mugger V-Shaped Meditation Cushion
- Price: $
- Shape: V-shape
The shape of this handmade pillow seems to make it more supportive for the knees. Reviewers, especially ones with knee pain, say they love the support this pillow gives them. One even mentions that she uses it while playing on the floor with her children.
The shape of this pillow elevates you, encouraging your hips and knees to lift off the ground at an angle instead of folding flat on top of each other.
It has that bean bag effect, making a “swooshing” noise when you move it around, thanks to the bead-like filling, which the website says is organic buckwheat hull.
It still manages to be a pretty firm pillow even though there are no dense foam layers.
For me, this pillow’s strongest point is its convenience factor: its handle and size make traveling with it easy. However, it is a bit on the heavier side, weighing over 7 pounds. (Plopping it on your belly for menstrual cramps is actually a good bonus factor.)
You can unzip the pillow and take out some filling if you want less weight — but the unzipping leads me to my only true complaint of this pillow: there is no case inside the pillow.
When you unzip the cover, you are looking straight into the bushel of buckwheat filling.
This could mean some filling may slip through the pillow if you accidentally have it slightly unzipped and move it around (like I did). Be sure to keep it zipped all the way.
I will also say this pillow is best for shorter meditation sessions. I noticed the Brentwood pillow (aforementioned favorite) made me feel more comfortable when meditating longer, since it’s a bit on the softer side.
This one is available in a slew of fun colors and patterns, and I’m a big fan of my pillow’s pattern (called Midnight Flurry). Although the patterns do cost more than the solid colors, this pillow is a more budget-friendly option compared to other brands.
Mindful and Modern Round Meditation Cushion
- Price: $
- Shape: Circle
This round meditation cushion is made from what the company describes as all-natural buckwheat hulls.
If you’d like to adjust the amount of filling, you can unzip the removable, machine-washable cover to find the case inside. Then, just unzip the case and take out some filling.
This process can help you adjust for height and comfort. I personally like the way it comes filled, so I kept mine as is.
I tried both the traditional round meditation pillow and its fancy counterpart, the Luxe Velvet Meditation Cushion.
I prefer the luxe version of the pillow — the velvet is so soft to the touch. Even if it’s just the frills fooling me, it feels more comfortable to sit on too.
Both versions have convenient handles that are sturdy, but not bulky, for easy travel.
While this pillow does have a good chunk of weight to it, at 5.5 pounds, it’s not as heavy as other buckwheat filled pillows.
The website describes these pillows as large, but so far, I’ve found that this size (16 by 16 inches) is pretty standard for round meditation pillows.
All in all, this is a nice pick if you’re looking for a strong, traditional meditation pillow that allows for easy travel and cleaning.
I was a big fan of my velvet version and the emerald color. If you’re a fan of luxury too, spring for the velvet!
Sugarmat Meditation Cushion
- Price: $
- Shape: Circle
This pillow is a firm, beautiful circle made of a compressed recycled fabric layer and high-density foam layers — no bean-bag effect here.
This pick is by far the most aesthetically pleasing pillow. In fact, when browsing Sugarmat’s product line, which includes all things yoga, you see just how fashion-forward the brand is.
My pillow features a beautiful illustration printed on top of its soft-to-the-touch fabric. It feels like microfiber, but the website doesn’t specify exactly what it is. The company does mention, however, that the materials are ethically processed and the pillow is free of latex and PVC.
This is a firm pick. After trying several pillows, I’ve decided my firmness preference lands somewhere on the middle-to-soft side of the spectrum.
This pillow kind of reminds me of a comfortable yoga block. There’s no “sinking in” effect, but there’s no pillow-like softness either.
This is a good choice for when you want to toss a cute, firm circle anywhere to meditate. At 15.3 inches in diameter and 4.5 inches high, it’s lightweight and small enough for travel. Although, there are no handles on it for carrying.
I also appreciated the eco-friendly packaging and plan to reuse the gorgeous box it came in for storing photos.
Cushion Lab Pressure Relief Seat Cushion
- Price: $$
- Shape: Square
This memory foam seat pillow is a wild card for those who want to comfortably meditate while sitting — but not on the floor.
This cushion is easily placed down on just about any chair. It works well on my standard dining room seat. The grip bottom stays put and fit the platform of the seat like a glove.
The thick, dense foam (4 inches tall) is ergonomically contoured to cradle your legs and thighs. It also evenly distributes body weight, keeping your booty in a supportive, almost lifted position.
The website says the cushioning helps ease lower back pain and numbness from extended sitting sessions. One reviewer on the website says it helps keep her legs from falling asleep.
What I like about this cushion is that it’s kind of a multitasker. You can keep it in your seat for meditation sessions, and you can use it as a comfortable, supportive boost for your office chair.
Cushion Lab recommends pairing this cushion seat with their Back Relief Lumbar Pillow, which the company says encourages proper posture and offers comfortable lower back relief.
I can see how this pairing is helpful to those with back pain, but I had a good experience with just the seat cushion alone. But if you’re looking to revamp your office chair, go ahead and get both.
You may be wondering if the pillows you already have around the house can work for meditation.
“You can absolutely use ordinary pillows for meditation,” Dunlap says. “The more firm the pillow, the more support it will offer.”
However, pillows designed specifically for meditation, as Dunlap notes, tend to offer more support, since they are made for that specific purpose.
I personally found this to be true.
Regardless of the shape or material, all the pillows I tried offered a stronger level of support for my body compared to regular pillows intended for sleep. They all did a nice job at keeping my spine in proper alignment, too.
Dunlaps also says she doesn’t think there is a one-size-fits-all shape or style, and I have to agree.
“I think it all comes down to personal preference and what feels best for your body,” she says.
Pricing on pillows marketed specifically for meditation tends to be steep. But, like Dunlap stresses, accessibility is important. Don’t let your lack of an official meditation pillow stop you from practicing.
The most important thing to remember is that you don’t need anything to meditate.
Dunlap says, “You are free to come as you are, exactly as you are. Whatever you bring with you will always be enough.”
If you want to try meditating, there are lots of ways to do it. And there are lots of ways to get yourself set up.
Feel free to grab a regular pillow, or even a folded blanket or towel, to sit on. But if it’s in your budget, a meditation cushion may be a good investment to enhance your practice. It certainly enhanced mine.
Breanna Mona is a writer based in Cleveland, OH. She holds a master’s degree in media and journalism and writes about health, lifestyle, and entertainment.