Since your Guide’s life fits in three bags, and I often need to carry those bags, it’s important that I keep my belongings light and limited. So it might surprise people to learn that I carry around three pieces of wood in my luggage. Those three pieces of wood are the IKUKO travel meditation bench, from Bluecony. I’ve been using the IKUKO for two years now, traveling with it full-time for the past eight months. Below I’ll review my experience with the portable bench and explain why a meditation bench is a useful piece of my digital nomad gear.
And full-disclosure: the links to the IKUKO in this post (like this one: Bluecony IKUKO meditation bench) are affiliate links because I’ve really enjoyed using it and would buy one again.
Experience with the Bluecony IKUKO meditation bench
My experience with Bluecony’s IKUKO bench has been entirely positive. I genuinely enjoy meditating on it. I initially thought I would take it with me only for a short segment of my adventures but now I’d say it’s an indispensable piece of my digital nomad kit.
Using it has been a big, convenient step up from when I’d be trying to wedge in cushions and rolled up towels around my knees.
The bench comes apart and assembles easily. The legs and seat are marked so there’s no confusion about which leg goes on which side. And it’s comfortable. If you want to deepen your practice and sit for longer, a meditation bench is useful because it’s not going to change in shape over the course of a 50 minute sit like a buckwheat-filled Zafu can.
There are three different color options: dark walnut, black, and natural wood–the one I have. And there are three different heights. I’m 187cm / 6’3″ and use the “High” bench. Check out the colors and sizes here: BLUECONY Meditation Bench IKUKO Portable Version with Bag
Does a travel meditation bench fit in a carry-on?
The longest bench, which I have, fits in my luggage easily. When I check a bag, I often use the bench to protect any glass bottle gifts I’m carrying. The seat has that nice curve which works well as a divider in my luggage.
The bench is around 2kg / 4.4lbs, but that’s lighter than my laptop, so I figure it balances out. My laptop melts my brain, my meditation bench helps me ignore my melted brain.
I don’t carry the bench in its bag. I pack the pieces separately, with clothes and other equipment around them.
Is a meditation bench comfortable?
When I was struggling with my posture in zazen, I looked at benches as something that would only exacerbate the pain and discomfort in my knees. But the reality is the opposite. The seat is really holding all of the weight and your legs can just float beside you.
Sitting in this style really unlocked the potential to explore my meditation practice more deeply, to lead meditation sessions, and do much longer sits on my own. I can really focus on a practice of Just Sitting instead of my old practice of Ruminating About Sitting.
Another bonus of using a meditation bench: It allows me to be more flexible with the types of clothing I wear when meditating. The posture isn’t that strange from many we find ourselves in working at a desk or riding a train. So I can grab my bench anytime, with whatever I’m wearing, and sit down for a long sit.
Why does a digital nomad need a meditation bench?
I’m lucky that my favorite chair also happens to fit in my luggage. It’s a health and professional support. Without it, I would still be at home wherever I am, but it does act like a mini-temple. Even if the environment around me is constantly changing, and often unpredictable, I have a solid seat. My meditation posture is consistent wherever I am in the world. Carrying the IKUKO meditation bench with me is a platform for continued exploration of my meditation practice and sharing that, even when I can’t be physically present with my community.
I don’t carry a Zabuton–a cushion to rest our legs on when practicing Zazen. I can generally get creative with whatever’s available. At Cannua Ecolodge, near Medellin, Colombia, they had a soft fuzzy blanket I enjoyed meditating on while I sat by their green gardens. At INNSIDE in Miraflores, Lima, Peru, I took advantage of the plush bathrobes when I hosted a meditation retreat for the Mental Fitness Discord Server.
This Guide attended a seven-day intensive, silent meditation retreat led by Zarko Andricevic, in the tradition of Chan master Sheng Yen, at Dharma Drum Mountain