Welcome to our short introduction to meditation balls, or “Baoding,” balls. Here you’ll find our “best of” selection (prefect for deciding which to buy), a short history and a quick guide to using them.
Meditation balls have been used for centuries to ease the flow of chi by activating various acupuncture points. Equally, they can be used to build the muscular strength and dexterity of your hands. They’re great as (slightly unusual) gifts and a real pleasure to use because of their wonderfully tactile quality.
If you’re buying for the first time and are struggling for a reference point in terms of diameter bear in mind that a golf ball is 1.7 inches (43mm) wide. Remember, you can buy both solid balls and hollow ones that will gently chime (no.5 is our selection for chiming balls).
A (Very) Short History of Meditation Balls
Baoding or meditation balls take their name from the town in which they are believed to have been first made, Baoding in north-west China. (Many of these balls are still manufactured in that area.) They were originally made of iron but manufacturing methods today favour stone, jade stainless steel and chrome (amongst others). Their relationship with acupuncture is a strong one. It is believed that using the balls gently adds pressure to certain “acupressure” points, resulting in the cleansing of chi energy pathways. This helps facilitate healing of the whole body.
Top 5 List
Short Reviews of Our Picks
1. Large Green Jade Balls
These are larger 2-inch (around 50mm) balls. They’re my top choice because I like their larger design and the simple green Xiuyan (an area in the north-east of China) jade from which they’re made. They weigh in (together) at between 11 and 15 ounces.
2. (Smaller) Solid Stainles Steel Balls
From large to small. At only 1.25-inches wide (just over 30mm), these balls are perfect for smaller hands. They’re very well made and of a good weight. May be unsuitable for larger hands, in which case you may want to try…
3. Black and White Stone Balls
This a gorgeous little set. I absolutely love the marbled stone effect. They’re 1.5-inches wide (38mm) and come is a patterned silk box. They’re also very well-priced for what you’re getting.
4. “Zen” Meditation Balls
This is a book and ball set. The small 88-page book is a good guide to using them effectively for various health benefits. The balls themselves are on the smaller end of the spectrum and have a soft chime in the middle, which results in a very pleasant sound whilst you’re using them.
5. Chiming Balls
If you want to have a soft chime in your balls then these are the ones to go for. They’re 1.5-inches wide (38mm). The sound of the bell can be very soothing.
The Quick Guide to Using Baoding Balls
- If you’re beginning, it can be best to choose a smaller set of balls (below 40mm diameter is a good reference point). If you have larger hands then anything above 40mm will be suitable. You may have a preference, as I do, for larger balls and that’s absolutely fine too.
- Hold one with your little and ring fingers and the other with your remaining three.
- At the same time, push the ball held by three fingers with your thumb and the ball held by two towards your middle and index fingers, so that they swap places. It should be a flowing, rhythmic movement of your fingers. Practice rotating the balls so that they swap places.
- Keep practising until there is little to no clinking of the balls.
Image credit: Whopper Sangwich