Meditation has powerful health effects on the body and mind. It can decrease stress, promote mindfulness. Practicing meditation for the first time (or the thousandth time) can be challenging, frustrating, and intimidating. There are several tools that can support and help you create success in meditation. Acquiring one or more meditation tools can increase your comfort, strengthen your focus, deepen your inner peace, and improve your success at meditating.
What are meditation tools?
You don’t actually need any tools or equipment to practice meditation. But a meditation tool is an instrument that can make your meditation a little easier, more comfortable, and more powerful. Most meditation tools have evolved from their ancient form in terms of material, style, and fashion. Their function remains the same—to help you be more successful in meditation by reducing distractions and increase focus and concentration.
The nine best meditation tools
1. Meditation cushion
Sitting on top of a meditation cushion or zafu will make your meditation practice much more comfortable while sitting. These cushions and pillows are specifically designed to ease the strain in your knees and low back. Using a cushion helps you to sit up tall and maintain the stillness of the body, which will allow you to sit for a longer period with fewer distractions. Using a meditation cushion will deepen your focus and concentration, allowing for a more powerful spiritual experience.
There are many different shapes, styles, and types of meditation cushions to choose from. A traditional zen zafu is often paired with a larger floor cushion called a zabuton that provides padding for your knees. We recommend purchasing one with a zipper so you can adjust the filling to better support your body.
2. Meditation bench
A meditation bench is also a tool designed to make meditation more comfortable when sitting in Hero pose or Japanese style. The bench is designed to remove pressure on the knees and to sit up tall with a long spine. Most benches will have folding legs to make these meditation tools easy to store and transport.
3. Tibetan Singing Bowl, bell or gong
Ringing a bell at the start and end of your meditation practice helps to clears your space of negative energy and to bring your awareness to the present moment. The sacred sound of a singing bowl, bell, or gong encourages your mind to quickly shift from the business of the day to the calm of your meditation space. The sounds of these meditation instruments create a calming and tranquil atmosphere to support your practice. Look for a Tibetan singing bowl, meditation chime, or gong with a tone that will encourage your body to let go, relax, and become absorbed within the sound. Striking or ringing one of these meditation instruments at the start and end of your practice also serves as a sacred ritual to support your meditation.
4. Meditation Altar
Altars are universally present in almost all cultures and religions. Creating an altar is helpful as it provides a symbol of your intentions, goals for your meditation practice. An altar can be a potent tool to cultivate inspiration, motivation, and dedication. A meditation altar typically contains candles, incense, fresh flowers, and photos or statues of deities. You can also add anything else that helps support your practice like inspirational quotes, crystals, or photos of loved ones.
5. Meditation Shawl
A meditation shawl is usually made from a natural fiber like silk or cotton. These can be simple solid colors or have printed patterns of mantras and deities. The fabric used in a meditation shawl should be soft and comfortable. The body tends to get cold when still for long periods of time, so wrapping a meditation shawl around you will provide warmth and comfort. A shawl can also help hold the energy of your practice inside of you instead of dissipating in the room.
6. Meditation Music
If your meditation space has any auditory distractions playing some soft instrumental music can be a powerful tool to support your meditation. Make sure that the music you’ve chosen will give you a calm mind. Choose very simple music that has a drone and minimal instruments for the best effect. Another option is to use a white noise machine. Some of these small devices have up to 26 different sounds you can select from.
7. Incense or Essential Oil Diffuser
Lighting Incense is a way to welcome in positive spiritual energy into your meditation space. Likewise, it is also a way of clearing any negativity within your space. Incense is made from a combination of essential oils and ground spices and is usually purchased as sticks or cones. The lighting of incense at the start of your meditation practice creates a powerful ritual to set the tone for your practice.
If you do not like the smoke of incense, then you can use an essential oil diffuser instead. There are specific essential oils that help to increase focus and clear the mind like peppermint, ylang-ylang, sweet orange, rosemary, and lemon.
Focusing on the flame of a lighted candle helps you to clear your mind and increases your ability to focus. Candles can symbolize our inner light and luminous wisdom. You may find it helpful to visualize using the light of the candle as a guide through the darkness of ignorance and confusion towards the truth.
9. Mala Beads
A mala is the Hindu or Buddhist form of prayer beads, and these can be made as a necklace of 108 beads or a bracelet of 27 beads. They are an incredibly useful tool for mantra meditation, but they can also be used in other types of meditation. There are several different ways to use mala meditation beads. They are mostly used to count the number of times you have recited a mantra, but they can also be used to count the number of breaths during meditation. The semi-precious gemstones used in the mala beads can also help calm and focus the mind.