It's not very Buddhist to make a shopping list (Buddha says suffering is caused by desire), but sometimes there are some things you need — or, rather, might want — to help you get your meditation on. I'm Jewish, not Buddhist, so when I started meditating for my mental health a few years ago, I went to a class. There, I learned about mindfulness and how to focus only on my breath, and found a mantra that calms me down whenever I feel overwhelmed or anxious. The practice has helped me see myself and those around me more clearly.
You should definitely try to make it to an IRL class, but you can totally start meditating without one. All the tools you need are below; the rest lies in your mind.
The Miracle Of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh
A classic text for the new kids.
First things first. If you're new to meditating, you should read this guide — or one like it — to get yourself started. Thich Nhat Hanh's The Miracle Of Mindfulness is one of the best introductions to the purpose of meditating.
Lokta Rope Incense
Scents in 4 Chakras, for alignment.
There are a lot of different types of incense — thin sticks, thick sticks, cones, logs, palo santo, sage smudges, cedar chips, charcoal — but my favorite is rope incense. It's easy to light, because it's fiber, and when it burns the rope untwists and I find that to be very calming.
Cubed3 Incense Holder
A sleek platform for burning.
Meditation is all about minimalism, and this solid concrete incense holder is both pretty and functional. Plus, it won't get knocked over and is perfect for all kinds of incense.
Chopa Zafu and Zabuton set
Kapok-filled seat and mat for butt support.
Don't try to meditate with nothing under your booty — a cushion is crucial. The last thing you want to do when you're meditating is fixate on how much your butt hurts. This mandarin-colored mat and seat set is very cool, although you can use a folded yoga mat or a towel if you're short on funds.
108 Mala Beads
For counting breaths.
One of the most important aspects of meditating is focusing on your breath. Some people think "in" and "out" when breathing, some count "one" for inhale, and "two" for exhale, and some aim for 100 breaths or mantras, counted on mala beads (the extra 8 are for errors, or an offering). When you're getting started, the mind easily wanders, so it's helpful to have beads to keep you grounded. Here's a cool explainer.
Padma Stretch Seat
Compact, on-the-go back support.
The Padma Seat Strap helps you adjust your sitting position so your back doesn't slump and become uncomfortable. And when you get really into meditating and start practicing on-the-go, you'll realize you need some portable back support — this doohickey will fit into whatever bag you carry around with you.
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