written by Elena Olejarz from Toronto, Canada
Perhaps the title of this post contrasts with the real precepts of the Dhamma way. After all, we don’t want to spend too much resting time in a tall, fluffy, cozy bed during a ten day sit. Neither would we want to sit too comfortably so as to produce a sleepy mind. Attachment is an act that binds us to this illusion we call life. However, in the seven plus years I’ve been practicing Vipassana, it has come to my attention the need to sit comfortably and at ease, thus creating Glory to the Sun Cushions. My home based sewing studio has evolved fortuitously into a Dhamma business.
Vipassana came to me in my years as a student in Montreal, Quebec. It took me two years before I took the step toward signing up for a 10 day retreat. I finally did, once back in Ontario. The first half of the retreat was one intimately torturous experience after another. Convinced there was something wrong with this practice, I found myself repeatedly asking questions during the last segment of our daily practice:
“There must be another way to sit….?” I would express to the assistant teacher with a questioning look upon my face. “I’ve never experienced pain in my back and knees like this before!” I remarked with a confident and somewhat convincing way in hopes of her understanding how gruesome these extended seating periods were.Low and behold, as time passed my aches and pains subsided. At last I was able to sit comfortably for extended periods of time. Just as I was reassured, these aches would not last with persistent practice; sure enough that has been very true.
Six years plus later, the only struggle I find during my regular sits is the battle and pains happening in my mind. How can the mind produce such destructive images and perplexing arguments I thought I’d let go of long ago? All this to say that my journey in Vipassana has been nothing short of transformational. I’ve never been the same since my first ten day sit. Returning home, nothing seemed like it used to and for several weeks, I was in an altered state of honest, coherent clarity. This ranged from my interactions with people, to places I would visit that normally made me feel contrived and restricted. As most of you practicing may know, this transformation is not external. My life continued as usual. These subtle differences were within myself and my reactions to life around me.
I have several seating routines throughout the day. I sit for my meditations, and I sit by my sewing machine. This happens regularly. I’m a fabric collector and maker of things; cushions are one of them. It wasn’t long after I discovered my commitment to meditation that I discovered the need to produce a cushion to provide enough support to sit comfortably for an entire hour. After testing different shapes and sizes from square, to rectangular, to round, I found the crescent shape to be the best fit for me. At last, I created a pillow to support my upper thighs thus allowing my knees ease and lower back to remain supple yet straight.
Overtime, fellow meditators approached me with curiosity about my seating paraphernalia. I was thrilled. The joy I encountered being productive at my sewing machine for a useful purpose was second to none, and just like that, Glory to the Sun Cushions was born. Each cushion is unique in its material. I use silks, canvas, cottons, and vintage upcycled fabrics. I’ve chosen buckwheat husks for the filling to optimize its malleability and weight support. Each cushion sports a zipper camouflaged by a thick handle accessible for transportation. Colors range from light golds and silvers, to iridescent fuchsias and greens. The different patterns on each piece of fabric give this these cushions a joyous accent and almost radiance that call me to my daily sits.
If you would like to learn more about Elena’s business you can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or explore her website at http://www.glorytothesun.com. If you would like to share the story or your Dhamma business you can contact me at email@example.com.