Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Yin, Mobile Meditator Review

Today's practice was low-key and simple: 45 minutes of Yin with a Sarah Powers DVD. The last time my arm was this sore (after the H1N1 shot), a Hatha practice proved to be too much. Even basic standing poses brought too much tension into my upper back.

Fortunately, I have a period of about 24 hours without any teaching, so I'll truly be able to rest. I don't need to go *anywhere* until tomorrow evening, a rare turn of events. This morning I slept in, clocking 10+ hours of sleep. It can't hurt to be well-rested!

As promised, today I'm reviewing the Mobile Meditator meditation cushion (sometimes called a 'zafu'), a product I've been testing for the past month.

Mobile Meditator arrives folded in this case

A couple months ago, I started looking around for a portable zafu to take to my monthly meditation group. I wasn't planning to replace my buckwheat hull zafu (though I wasn't entirely happy with it), I just wanted something that was easy to carry for my trek across the city. Carrying my heavy buckwheat hull zafu was out of the question and using a smaller support pillow wasn't sufficient; my legs kept falling asleep.

After hours of searching online, I found very little. Most portable zafus are 'made-in-china' beach balls stuffed inside a round zafu cover. They didn't sound very stable (and the reviews were really mixed). The Prapatti cushion (which I'll discuss in a later post) was expensive and though more portable than a traditional zafu, it wasn't suitable for real travel.

(Realistically, I know that I'm a homebody, but I like to think that I could just take off at a moments notice and become a meditating world traveller. Don't laugh! It could happen!)

I stumbled upon the Mobile Meditator quite by accident, but I was delighted to find it. The product was developed by Scott Salzman, a daily meditator and outdoors enthusiast who wanted a zafu he could take with him on wilderness treks. Unlike the beach ball, this cushion is designed for meditation by people who meditate regularly.

It's very well designed. The Mobile Meditator is crescent shaped and constructed out of the same durable material used for those inflatable camping mattresses. It's even 'flocked' like a camping mattress. There are three separate chambers to inflate (and each must be inflated separately). This provides greater stability and also the ability to customize the height of the cushion. When deflated, the zafu folds neatly into a small pouch.

Unfolded and ready to inflate

The website mentions the many daily meditators who have abandoned their more traditional zafus in favour of the Mobile Meditator. I rolled my eyes when I read this, but I have to confess, I've joined their ranks! I've come to prefer my Mobile Meditator and I use it at home as well as 'on the road'. I'm planning to buy a second, 'back-up' Mobile Meditator so I can keep one at home for use in my daily meditation practice, freeing up the other one to take to classes when I teach.

If you're accustomed to the solid feel of buckwheat hulls beneath your tush, sitting on air is an adjustment, but it doesn't take long. I find the air chambers of the Mobile Meditator very comfortable for longer meditation sessions. If I need to, I can adjust the height of the cushion to meet my range of flexibility on a given day.

Inflated and ready to go!

For example, at the moment my left hip is stiff and sore. I've added extra air to the Mobile Meditator to provide more height to ease the pressure on that hip. After my normal range of flexibility returns, I'll be able to release some of the air, creating a smaller cushion with less height.

Like any good meditation cushion, the Mobile Meditator tilts the pelvis slightly forward. The height of the cushion along with this angle makes it possible to maintain a tall spine for long periods of meditation.

It's quick and easy to inflate. The first time I took it to my meditation group, I thought I would feel conspicuous, but it inflates in less than 15 seconds (one big puff of air for each side chambers, two big puffs for the middle one). No one even noticed. One moment, I standing there with a small orange envelope in my hand. The next, I was sitting comfortably on a zafu. People were amazed!

Deflating and refolding it takes a bit longer. I usually do this on the floor, squeezing most of the air out, then 'rolling' the zafu from the crescent tips (and releasing the air in those chambers) to the middle section. Fully deflated, it folds easily and it's tiny! It fits easily into a purse or large coat pocket.

The flocking on the Mobile Meditator is soft and prevents sliding but there's a downside: It picks up lint like nobody's business. If you have a cat, you'll soon have a cat-hair-covered zafu! My miniature schnauzer sheds very little, but I've found her hair on my Mobile Meditator.

I have a bright orange zafu, so it's the dark fuzzies off of my black socks that show up best (If I had a black zafu, I'm sure it would be the white fuzzies from my favourite blanket). Lint rolls work fabulously for clean-up though, and as pernickety as I am, this issue doesn't spoil the product for me. But it's something to be aware of.

I've found that the flocking also gets dirty and can be difficult to clean. Soap and water will do the trick for simple dirt, but more stubborn stains are hard to remove from the flocking. The product doesn't come with any sort of washable cover. The Mobile Meditator is not sturdy enough to accommodate over 200 lbs of weight.

Common sense: Don't jump on your Mobile Meditator. It will pop!

To sum up...

- Small and compact for travel
- Very comfortable!
- Infinitely adjustable
- Very affordable (I give Scott huge props for offering this product at such a fair price)

- Sitting on 'air' requires a period of adjustment
- The flocking attracts lint
- No cover and not easy to clean
- Not suitable for meditators over 200 lbs

All in all? I love it. It meets my needs both as a travel zafu and for everyday use. I wholeheartedly recommend it!

Readers of this blog (or anyone else who serendipitously stumbles across this post) are welcome to take advantage of a limited time 20% discount on the Mobile Meditator. Just use this coupon code, TRA20, when making your purchase on the website.


Michelle said...

I sure would like a close up picture of that book shelf. Do I see some Harry Potter there?

Kaivalya said...

Oh, that's the boring bookshelf - it's all the youth books.

You're seeing Harry Potter, Where the Wild Things Are, Green Eggs and Ham, Pole Dog (a touching picture book about an abandoned dog), Treasure Island, The Poky Little Puppy and Charlotte's Web (in French).

And a vase I inherited from my Grandmother!

Robin said...

Thanks for the in-depth review, Kaivalya! I need something other than my buckwheat zafu when I'm on the road (which is often) or in the woods (see previous parenthesis), and I'm demanding. Especially in the woods, where I can spend most of the day on the cushion. Your detailed review answers pretty much all my questions.

All my best,

Rusty Ring: Reflections of an Old-Timey Hermit