A bragan (also called barragon / baragon / beragon) is a small one legged support which provides support for your arms while doing longer meditations. It helps you to keep your back straight and to perform certain mudras (body postures) when doing advanced forms of meditation. When you first receive access to spiritual light and sound energy, a process known as “initiation”, your teacher will show you two advanced techniques, which although not essential for spiritual meditation, do make it easier to become more aware of the inner light and inner sound Energies. You do not need to use a bragan before initiation, but I have put this guide together to help you if you are making bragans for yourself or for others.
You do not need to be a DIY guru or have lots of tools but please be safe as you are going to be cutting, drilling and gluing. Wear gloves and safety goggles and if you are operating loud drills and jigsaws then protect your hearing too. OK that is the common sense stuff out the way let us have some fun.
I went to my local B&Q store and picked up 3 bits of wood: a wide flat piece for the top of the bragan. A pole for the leg and a thicker piece (63 x 38mm) for the leg support.
Here’s the dimensions I’ve used:
1 x Top Piece: 92mm x 26mm x 2.4m – I wouldn’t go any thinner than about 20mm of the top may bend.
1 x Leg: diameter 28mm length 2.4m – I wouldn’t go any thinner than this.
1 x Support: 63mm x 38mm x 2.4m – this should be at least twice the width of the leg and at least 38mm deep.
So as you can see all the lengths are 2.4 meters long. Which is handy. The ideal width of a bragan to support your arms is about 60cm so from one 2.4m length (240cm) we can get exactly 4 bragan tops.
The wood I’ve chosen is softwood pine and I took time in the shop to find pieces that were nice and straight. Long lengths of wood tend to warp and twist with moisture so check each one before you buy.
If you want to make 8 bragans then buy two Legs and two Top Pieces but you’ll still only need one Support Piece.
Obviously you can improvise. Some saws have a 90/45degree T-Square built into their handles. But the most important tool is the drill bit which must be the same diameter as the wooden legs.
Using the tape measure, pencil, and the T Square mark the Top Piece ready for cutting at 60 cm intervals: 60cm, 120cm, 180cm.
Then just cut the top piece three times creating 4 rectangle top pieces. Easy!
Using a straight edge ruler or a spare piece of wood (as shown) mark the centre of the bottom surface of the Top Pieces with pencil.
To find the centre: simply align the ruler with the bottom left corner and the top right corner and draw a diagonal line along the mid zone of the wood. Now repeat for the opposite diagonal from top left to bottom right. Where these two diagonal lines cross is your mid-point!
Put the Top Pieces safely to one side now.
Start by marking a 45 degree cut from one corner at the end of the piece. We want to be working on the thinner edge of the Support wood. In our case that is the 38mm side.
Once you’ve marked that first 45 degree line measure 30 cm (which divides into 240 exactly 8 times!) you can then make a 45 degree diagonal going the other way. Now move to the top edge and repeat this. In this way you are marking out trapezoid shapes which fit perfectly together and hardly any of the wood will be wasted, just the little bits at the end which are not needed. It also means that you do fewer cuts – saving time, energy and making less mess!
You can see on the diagram highlighted in green where I’ve marked the wood to be cut. Go ahead and cut the wood. It’s a good idea to mark the wood all the way around so that you can follow the lines with the saw blade.
This is the easiest cutting. Simply mark the Leg wood at 60cm intervals and cut into 4 pieces (240cm / 4 = 60cm). Try to cut the ends exactly at 90 degrees. The secret to a nice clean cut is to mark the dowel all the way around it’s circumference and then as you cut, keep rotating the wood so that you get all the way around the wood before the last piece which will be in the centre is cut. That way you don’t tear off a splinter and spoil the leg.
That’s all the cutting done now so it’s a good point to have a cup of tea. Don’t bother sweeping up the mess yet as there’s drilling to be done!
This is completely optional. You could just round the corners a little with the sand paper but if you have a jigsaw or even a little coping saw then you could round the corners off which will look nicer and make the bragan safer with nice smooth corners.
If using a jig saw you may find that the blade bends as you go round the curve which means that the cut wont be 90 degrees through the wood but fan out. For this reason always cut from the bottom surface rather than the top. A smaller thinner blade will turn tighter corners whereas a thicker blade will cut more true but might struggle to do tight corners.
In the example above I’ve used the lid off a jar of olives as a template for the corners. Anything round will do.
You can see the difference it makes to the meditation bragan.
Using the same diagonal to diagonal method as step 4 above, mark the centre of the larger side of each Leg Support.
Carefully drill each leg Support starting on the wider side. Using these flat drill bits makes it easier to ensure you are drilling exactly perpendicular to the surface.
Very important hint: as soon as the point of the drill bit has made a hole in the opposite surface, stop drilling, turn the wood around and drill from the opposite side. This will make sure the wood is not split or torn as the drill comes through.
We want the leg to go through the support and also into the top Piece. This is for extra strength. Our top piece is 26mm deep so we are drilling in about 7mm.
Careful! we do not want to drill all the way through the top piece! Using the centre mark we made back in step 4. drill into the underside of the top piece to make a hole about 5 to 7mm deep as shown.
Push the Leg all the way through the Support so it sticks out about 7mm and then push that into the Top Piece. Get the Support straight with the Top Piece and using a pencil mark around the Support (highlighted in green).
Using the small drill bit. Drill 4 holes which are within the box you’ve just drawn on the underside of the Top Piece. You do not want these to be too close to the edge of the box or too close together. You want one near each corner. You can see the measurements I’ve used in the image above.
Now you’ve drilled your 4 holes, (1) place the leg back in the support so that it sticks out about 7mm.
(2) Put a reasonable amount of wood glue inside the box that you marked out in step 12. Importantly do not put the glue too close to the edge of the box or near the centre leg support hole.
Push the support and top piece together making sure the support aligns with the box you marked out. Then clamp them together. You will notice I’ve used some wood scraps to protect the wood from the clamp.
If you haven’t got a clamp then lay the bragan top down so the leg sticks up in the air and put some heavy objects on the support to push it into the base and leave for a couple of hours until the wood glue has bonded the support to the top piece.
Once it is ready (glued together or clamped) then optionally, get a large wood drill bit and by hand, make a recess for each screw in the top surface of the bragan. You do this by pushing the drill bit into the hole and rotating it back and fourth to chisel out a recess which will take the head of the screw. The drill bit should be a similar diameter to the screw head. Don’t worry if you can’t to this, as you may be able to screw the screw in hard enough that the head will be pulled into the wood.
These screws add additional strength to the bond between the support and the top piece. Screw them in carefully and make sure the heads to not protrude above the surface of the top piece.
It may be a boring job but it is important. Sanding down removes any splinters or hard edges. Make sure you do all the edges around the top piece so they are nice and smooth and there’s no splinters to catch on blankets, clothing or skin. Sanding will make it look a lot nicer too.
If you wanted you could also paint or varnish the wood, in which case make sure you don’t paint the leg into the hole. The idea is that the leg can be taken out making it easier to move and travel with the bragan.
Simply push the leg into the hole, making sure it goes all the way through into the Top Piece too. You may need to gently twist the leg as it should be a nice tight fit.
The leg will probably be too long and will need cutting down to the right length. Everyone is different so I don’t cut them in advance. When I give the bragan to a student I am teaching meditation too, we work out the ideal length for their body and then I cut it for them. This way they have a bragan that is a perfect fit for them.
Some people like to put cushioning on top of their bragan which is really easy to do too.
The dowel for the legs: £12.00 B&Q store code 3 663602 009320 [CH313]
The flat top piece: £12.32 B&Q store code: 6 000473 072318 [LP310]
The support piece: £2.50 B&Q store code: 5 022652 650216 [CLS 38×63 2.4M]
So each bragan would cost £6.70. Of course you could source cheaper materials but I wanted to show how you could make a bragan from a normal DIY chain like B&Q which you find everywhere in the UK (other stores are available and we are not sponsored).
The 28mm flat drill bit cost £8.27
I have shared my technique for making a portable wooden meditation bragan. I’ve deliberately gone for a design that requires the minimum of cutting, tools and expertise. Please be safe when doing any DIY project. Check the wood for any defects regularly and if the bragan is broken then repair it or replace it. When using any bragan never put your full weight on the bragan, they are not meant to be sat on or used as an aid to get up with. They are simply for supporting your arms and easing the load off your shoulders and back. Your meditation teacher will show you how to use a bragan when you are ready and have received the spiritual light and sound energy.