Meditation is not easy. The practice of sitting still for twenty minutes focusing your mind on breathing or on a mantra. It’s harder than it sounds. If you want to get the most benefit out of meditation, if you want to relives stress, relax, and increase concentration, you need to meditate properly. Tools can help.
Some items that can help you meditate include:
- Meditation chairs
- Meditation Books
- Meditation Courses
- See the full list below
- Looking for a gift? See my list of the best gifts for Buddhists.
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1. Mala (Yoga Beads)
The Chopra Center calls malas “a significant part of your practice”.
Malas are prayer beads that were first used in India 3000 years ago for Buddhist and Hindu practices. They are used for counting breaths and for Japa, which is a Sanskrit word meaning recitations.
Most malas have 108 beads. As we meditate, we count the beads from 1 to 108. This way, we know which breath we are on. Plus, malas also help you focus.
Diffefent malas are made of different materials such as sandalwood, rosewood, and coral, so choose meditation beads with your favorite material.
Andy Puddicombe from Headspace states that we need proper posture when meditating. This is especially true if you’re doing Zazen (seated Zen, as taught by Thich Nhat Hanh).
To help improve your posture, get a chair. Not only will they support your back, but they will help you meditate because good posture improves concentration.
I find that when I sit in a proper chair my spine feels stronger and overall I feel more supported. In turn, that helps me to be mindful.
Check out our collection of the best meditation chairs.
You can use a cushion either with a chair or by itself. Either way, it is another meditation tool that helps with posture.
One of my favorite types of cushion is a traditional Zen Zafu. You will have seen these if you have ever visited Zen Buddhist monasteries. They are used for protecting the knees when kneeling to meditate.
3. A Tibetan Singing Bowl
Tibetan Singing Bowls are bowl-shaped instruments usually made of brass. They became incredibly popular after Yogi Bhajan brought sound healing to the West. Bhajan explained how certain frequencies of sounds could heal the mind and body.
Cathy Wong on VeryWellMind says, “Research does support the idea that these singing bowls can enhance practice and deep breathing, which may help maximize the stress-relieving benefits of those practices.”
Take a look at my guide to Tibetan Singing Bowls.
5. Meditation Apps
There are many Android / iOS apps on the market, like Calm, Headspace and other daily meditation apps. Some apps work as timers. Others offer guided sessions to help you relax.
The sheer variety and versatility of mindfulness apps makes them one of the best meditation tools. Plus, many are free.
I will say that I personally never use an app because for me they spoil the experience of proper practice. Plus, according to Harvard Medical School, mindfulness apps are not as effective as proper, traditional practice. But they are helpful for beginners.
Some of the best apps include:
6. A Meditation Book
There are many books on meditation, from the Pali Canon to Peace In Every Step by Thich Naht Hanh.
I recommend the works of the following authors:
- Sharon Salzberg (New York Times bestselling author and teacher of Buddhism)
- John Kabat Zinn [American professor emeritus of medicine and the creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.]
- Thich Nhat Hanh [Vietnamese Thiền Buddhist monk, peace activist, and founder of the Plum Village Tradition.]
- Pema Chodron [American Tibetan Buddhist., ordained nun, former acharya of Shambhala Buddhism and disciple of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche.]
- Me, obviously [duh!].
- See my list of the best meditation books.
7. Meditation Music
Meditation music helps us to relax and focus. It is composed using specific instruments and specific frequencies of sound that heal the mind (usually the Solfeggio Frequencies). I recommend the music of Deva Premal and Krishna Das.
You can find a ton of music to listen to on SoundCloud.
Muse is a unique mindfulness tool. It works like a personal assistant. When you put the Muse headband on and start the app it plays relaxing music designed to calm the mind. You then focus on those sounds.
As you practise, Muse measures whether you’re calm or stressed and uses that information to change the sounds it’s playing. When calm, you hear peaceful sounds, when the mind wanders you hear more intense sounds that remind you to relax. This helps you to be mindful of how you are feeling, which is great because “mindfulness of feelings” is one of the Buddha’s Four Foundations of Mindfulness.
9. Guided Meditation Recordings
Guided meditations are the easiest way to meditate. And although they are massively limited compared to more traditional techniques, they are helpful for beginners who just want to relax.
Some of the best guided meditation artists are:
- Michael Sealey
- Jason Stephenson
- Sharon Salzbery
- Jack Kornfield
- Our own youtube channel
10. Buddhist Gongs
Gongs are definitely one of my favourite meditation tools. They look stunning and they sound divine. Talk about a focal-point!
Buddhist gongs are specifically designed to create frequencies of sounds that help us meditate by entering the brain into a relaxed and focused state. 
My guide to meditation gongs shares everything you need to know about these beautiful instruments.
11. Zen Gardens
Zen Gardens are actually Japanese Rock Gardens. Many centuries ago, Zen monks began to turn gardening into a mindfulness practice. And the hobby took off from there.
Today there are full-size Zen gardens at temples. Some extremely cool people have them in their own garden, or even indoors. And others have desktop Zen gardens.
Zen gardens are great because:
- Creating them is an exercise in mindfulness
- We can meditate in them.
12. All The New Tech
The technology industry has created some of the best meditation tools we’ve seen in centuries.
Some of the best meditation aids include:
- Brain sensing technology
13. Meditation Crystals
If you enjoy meditating on beautiful objects, get a few crystals.
Different types of crystals such as Amethyst, Clear Quartz, and Lapis Lazuli have different spiritual properties , so it is important to make sure that you meditate on the right type of crystal.
Believe it or not, there are lots of meditation video games. These are simple games that help to slow the mind. My favourites include Flower and Journey.
These gamse are relaxing and help us to get into that Zen-state that we all know and love. We are just witnessing the rise of medi-tainment now, and there are bound to be lots more games soon.
15. Meditation Altars
Altars and shrines are becoming popular. These are small altars that we sit at to meditate. You can use them to show reverence for your deity. Or, you can decorate them with various items that make you feel peaceful and happy.
What makes them such a good meditation tool is that they give you one dedicated space to practice in. That way, you have a little spot in your home reserved for your sitting. sessions.
16. Kasina Deep Vision Bundle ($$$)
Kasina is one of the most unique devices I’ve seen. The name itself, “Kasina”, refers to a type of visualization used in Theravada Buddhism. And this gadget works in a similar way: it focuses the mind on visualizations.
To use Kasina you sit comfortably, choose one of the device’s sessions, and then focus on the visions and sounds the machine makes. There are sessions for energy, concentration, trances, and more.
17. MUSE 2
Muse 2 is a brain-sensing headband. The manufacturer describes it this way: “Muse helps make meditation easy, tangible, and enjoyable to learn by offering a simple and accessible ‘work out plan’ for your practice, with incredible insights into your inner world. It offers all the same tracking and brain-sensing features as the original Muse, but now with so much more!”
Muse 2 is one of the best meditation devices. It provides you with insights into your practice and can help you to progress.
18. NOW Tone Therapy System ($)
Now Tone Therapy System is basically two speakers that play a relaxing and ever-changing sound. The idea is that you listen to the sound, and it relaxes your mind. Simple. The sound then fades, bringing you back to the present moment.
It has its limitations though. The manufacturer calls it an aid to spiritual awakening. Really, it’s just relaxing sounds.
19. Bose Noise-Masking Sleep Buds ($$$$)
Are you trying to use meditation to get to sleep at night? If so, you might like to try Bose Noise Masking Sleepbuds.
Okay, they are more a product for sleep than for mindfulness, but you can use them for both. They have two main functions: 1) cancel out background noise, and 2) play relaxing sounds. Both functions are great for both mindfulness and sleep. You can cancel out background noise to help you focus when you meditate. And you can meditate on the relaxing sounds that the buds make. Perfect!
20. Incense and Candles
Incense has been used for centuries in various places of worship, and it is a popular item to have on your altar. Burning incense is usually done as part of spiritual practice or as a form of offering to various gods. It is also an excellent way of clearing negative energy.
In the Buddhist tradition, burning incense is part of a meditative practice that is used to help clean the mind of impure thoughts and to increase focus ready for mindfulness, according to Barbara O’Brien, who trained at Zen Mountain Monastery.
Incense is comprised of spices and oils and can be purchased in various scents and as clumps, cones, or sticks. They are burnt in metal balls that sway in the wind.
Candles are also a popular meditation tool. In particular, candles can be used in practices like Trataka, a yogic practice in which we meditate on a lit candle.
My favourite is my mala
My personal best meditation tool has to be my Buddhist mala. It’s the first piece of meditation equipment I ever purchased (except for books). And malas are one of the original types of equipment used by Buddhists.
My mala has travelled with me for ten years and over tens of thousands of miles. It’s been with me at the best of times, like when I returned home in 2014 to visit my family for the first time in years. And it’s been with me at the worst of times, like when my father passed away. By my estimation, I have taken over 394,000 mindful breaths with this mala. It’s helped me to take my practice to a new level. And it is deeply personal to me.
Paul Harrison BSc is a qualified meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in teaching meditation and mindfulness both to individuals and to corporations and is the author of four books on meditation. He has been featured in Psychology Today, Breathe Magazine, Healthline, Psych Central and Lion’s Roar.
Paul studied meditation in beautiful Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University.
Paul’s biggest inspirations include Thich Nhat Hanh, Jon Kabat Zinn, and Jack Kornfield.
“My goal is to provide the most authentic meditation sessions so you can harness the power of your own mind for personal transformation” – Paul Harrison