Standing Meditation #1 – How To Do It Standing Like A Tree

As This Week’s Big Idea is relaxation, we thought we’d post a video on one of the most simple (yet powerful) relaxation exercises, standing meditation.  It’s also known by a few other names, Zhan Zhuang, Wuji, Tadasana, Standing Post.  They’re all names that describe the principle of standing in a fixed position and relaxing into the posture.

The posture demonstrated, this “Standing like a tree” is named as such because someone thought that standing upright with your hands in front of you either made you resemble a tree or because you looked like you were hugging one.

If you’ve not done much standing before, start with 2-3 minutes, and gradually work it up to 10.  When you begin Standing Like A Tree, you’re really going to feel like a tree as the tension starts to come out of your body.

Try not to judge the process, all the time you spend doing standing meditation is time well spent, there is no such thing as a “good” session or a “bad” session.  The standing practise sessions are just different, as the myriad of things you experience will vary from day to day.  It’s perhaps the only practise where you get immediate benefit from (even if you may not be aware of it straight away) as there is practically no learning curve.  You just have to GOYA* and do it.

Standing meditation is beneficial to your Taiji practise because it starts off the process of relaxation.  You may be Standing Like A Tree, but you’re actually more like an onion. There’s layers and layers to it.  As you let go of tension and reach one layer of relaxation, another one awaits you beneath it.  As your practise progresses, you’ll peel away more and more layers, and standing meditation is the most effective way to kickstart the process.

This is the one single exercise that made the most difference to Tannage’s back and Greeny’s knee.  It was standing meditation that allowed our joints to relax, and start healing themselves, so if you have joint problems or a bad back, you might do well to do this practise, 5-10 minutes a day, every day.  Regular practise is far more effective than sporadic long practise sessions.  Think of rolling a snowball, the longer you roll it, the bigger it gets, but you can’t stop or it’ll stop rolling, and you’ll have to put all that effort into getting it going again. Tannage did standing like a tree for years, just 5-10 minutes a day, every day almost without fail.

Don’t worry if you’re not as um.. militant about it as Tannage is, he’s got a back to keep in good shape and wants to avoid middle-age agony. Try to do standing menditation every day but if you hit maybe every other day you’re doing pretty well and it’ll give you a lot of benefit.

Although there are lots of other postures, Standing Like A Tree is a good one to start with. If you never learnt any other standing postures, then this posture will serve you very well. It’ll build internal power, and also strengthen you (did I mention it can fix your back and also heal bad knees?)

The next lesson is all about things you might experience when doing standing meditation.

* Get Off Your Ass – I credit Naomi Dunford of Ittybiz.com for coining this phrase.

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