Chan Meditation Roadmap

The Necessary Equipment for Practicing Sitting Meditation

  1. Cushion
Cushions come in many different textures and shapes, both round and square, and one could make one's own choice according to his or her own needs.  A cushion is used to lift up one's buttocks, keeping the spine upright to avoid drowsiness during sitting. If one cushion is not enough, it is recommended to stack another one on top or use a towel. If no cushion is available at home, a pillow or sofa cushion could also be a temporary option.
  1. Sitting Mat
Sitting directly on top of a hard surface, such as the bare ground, would cause pain to the knees and calves, which explains why a sitting mat is necessary. The mat is also helpful in preventing humidity and coldness from the ground from getting into one's body.
One could freely choose from the various textures and shapes available, like round or square. If no sitting mat is available at home, one can also use a blanket or a carpet instead.
In summer time, some might find it too hot to sit on a cushion and therefore prefer to sit with their back leaning against the wall, or to sit directly on the cool ground. One would surely feel cooler at that moment; however, coldness from the environment would also be allowed to penetrate the body, causing stagnation or even blockage in the meridians (passages of Qi). Therefore, cushions and sitting mats are recommended for meditation practice.   
Furthermore, the spine would have a chance to straighten up only when there is enough support from underneath the buttocks; therefore, please refrain from sitting on spring mattresses when practicing.

  1. Towel
A towel is used to cover the legs during sitting meditation as a way of protecting the knees and hipbone against soreness caused by coldness from the environment. In cold weather, one additional towel could also be employed to cover the shoulders and the back. In hot summers, on the other hand, it would be fine not to cover the knees with a towel; however, to prevent soreness induced by coldness, wearing long pants is still necessary.    
  1. Appropriate clothes
Apart from the aforementioned, loose, comfortable and breathable clothing is recommended. With the belt removed, the body would feel much less constrained.
As for female practitioners, in order to be able to breathe naturally, it is suggested not to wear tight-fitting bras. 
In winter time, one could decide whether to put on socks, a hat or a scarf, if there is a need. When necessary, loose-fitting clothing is recommended to facilitate the practice.