Standing Meditation or zhan zhuang

Many martial arts include training in standing meditation. In Yiquan, for instance, static standing postures are the foundation exercises for a powerful self-defense system. In martial arts and qigong systems there are a variety of different postures used for a variety of purposes. Some are more for healing or fitness, martial skill, or perceptual training.

In a series of posts, I will be providing guidelines for exploring this powerful personal development approach. If you are a beginner, as with any type of exercise I encourage you to check with your doctor, start slowly, and stop if you experience discomfort or dizziness.

The simplest standing meditation practice is called Wuji or Wuchi. Try this posture for 20 relaxed breaths and work up to 100. Focus on building comfort with the position first (the physical requirement) and then on maintaining your attention in the present.

Stand with your feet parallel, hip width apart, arms at sides, palms facing the rear. Keep your knees unlocked and relax as much as you can while maintaining your vertical alignment. Scan from the crown of the head down to the soles of the feet relaxing and opening the joints. Cultivate a sense of floating from the crown of the head. Tongue touching the roof of the mouth, chin dropped, neck free, shoulder blades sinking and widening, space under the arm pits, arms and hands alive to the finger tips, breathing deeply into the pelvic bowl, feel and open the perineum, keep the hip joints loose, weight going down the center of loose knees and ankles, feeling the soles of the feet.

Despite the fact that we do not move our feet, there are micro-adjustments happening in our balance all the time to accomodate the changes of breath and heart beat. Do not seek rock-like stillness, instead allow your body to move with these pulsations. Expect, feel and allow the subtle balance adjustments and sway that go with the pulse of the breath and simply standing. The dance of the standing body is like the movement of a flame around the wick of a candle on a windless night. Allow your whole body to be mobile with the breath. Allow the tilt of your pelvis to change with the breath.

For the meditation and mindfulness portion, if you find your attention drifting away to thoughts of the past, future or analysis of the moment, simply bring your attention back to your present tense physical sensations and perceptions.

Try this posture out and let me know how you feel. I’ll be posting another variation in several days.

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