Kapok is a natural fibre from the seed pods of Ceiba pentandra, a tropical tree related to cotton that is found in through central America, west Africa and Asia. The tree is cultivated for the seed fibre, particularly in south-east Asia. Seed pods are either cut down from the trees or gathered when they fall, then broken open. The seeds and fibres are removed from the pods by hand and separated. Kapok fibre is light, very buoyant, resilient, and resistant to water. The fibre is difficult to spin, but is widely used as an alternative to down filling in mattresses, pillows and upholstery. Kaopk fibre is flammable so if you are handling the kapok (e.g. adjusting the amount of stuffing in your zafu), keep the fibre away from any flames. Also try to minimise the amount of dust created as the dust can irritate eyes and respiratory passages. We import cleaned kapok in bulk from Thailand.
Buckwheat husks are the casing or shell that protects the seed of the buckwheat plant (Fagopyrum esculentum). The seeds are removed and the husks are washed and dried. Widely used in pillows, the husks create a firm and stable filling that contours to the body. We use New Zealand-grown organic buckwheat husks.
Use a damp cloth to wipe away dirt or marks and a vacuum cleaner to remove dust from your zafu. Zabuton covers can be unzipped, removed and hand or machine washed. Do not wash or wet your zafu or your zabuton filling. All your gear will benefit from an occasional airing- in dry sunny weather put your zafu and zabuton where they are exposed to fresh air and sunlight for a few hours. This will encourage the kapok and cotton fibres to unfurl and regain loft, revitalising the filling. Massaging your zafu after sitting will also help retain loft.
New kapok zafus are quite firm. Kapok compacts down and softens over time so to ensure you get years of sitting from your zafu we sell them firmly stuffed. If you find that the zafu is too hard or high initially, you can adjust the amount of stuffing in it. There is an opening under the handle and you can simply remove as much stuffing as you need. Check the kapok section above for more on handling kapok. Husk zafus can also be adjusted by removing husks- in this case you will need to undo the hand stitching to access the opening under the handle, then resew after adjusting the filling (the husks tend to fall out if the opening is not sewn shut).
Support cushions are used to give extra height under the zafu when needed. Our rectangular kapok-filled support cushion is good for this job or you can use a folded blanket or sofa cushion under your zafu. If your zafu is old and the kapok has compacted, we can supply you with extra kapok to top up your zafu (no charge for the refill kapok but if you are out of Auckland, we will need to charge courier costs).
If you'd like to know more about Zen, meet others interested in meditation, or learn more how to meditate then a workshop at the Auckland Zen Centre may be useful for you. Designed for newcomers to Zen, our Introductory Workshops are held over two Saturdays five times a year. Over the two half-days we introduce the basic principles of Zen Buddhism, provide detailed instruction on the sitting postures used in Zen meditation and introduce you to the Mindfulness of Breathing practice, as well as walking meditation (kinhin). We also discuss how to bring meditative awareness and mindfulness into daily life. After you have attended the introductory workshops you can come to any of the sittings or retreats offered by the Auckland Zen Centre.
Our office hours: Tuesday - Friday: 8:00 a.m. - 2 p.m. You are welcome to call in and try out cushions or collect cushions during office hours. We are also often here in the afternoons, but if you want to visit after 2 p.m., please ring ahead to check someone will be able to meet you. Weekends by arrangement only: please phone ahead of time if you wish to view or collect gear at the Centre on Saturday or Sunday to make sure someone will be available to help you.