Monday Morning Tai Chi Training Tip # 289
There is no human activity that I can think of that is not improved by sharpening one’s mind focus. This is the main goal of meditation. Most meditation techniques involve sitting with legs crossed, limiting the energy that would otherwise move down the legs. The internal arts tend to use standing meditation because strength of the legs, balance, flexibility are necessary to master our art. Let’s examine this technique.
Standing meditation or Zhan Zhuang is an ancient form of Chi Kung that is popular, especially in China, India, and many other parts of the world. This system is simple on the outside, and as deep as the universe on the inside. Standing exercises are extremely important to Tai Chi training, and the essence of self healing.
The basic idea for all standing exercises is the use of the mind to direct energy. These exercises can be as easy as just standing in a normal posture and breathing naturally, or as complex as twisting the body or sinking into a very deep posture and moving the breath in quite intricate patterns. In any case, the exercises always proceed from simple to complex as the student gains the necessary skills needed to use the mind to move energy.
T. T. Liang, who was one of America’s leading Tai Chi masters, used the term “Imagination Becomes Reality” to describe how Tai Chi and standing meditation works. At first you imagine certain things, like holding a ball and feeling it expand and contract, or feeling energy circle in an orbit inside the body. Before long, you will actually be able to feel these sensations as the mind (Yi) acts on the energy (Chi) to create internal energy (Jing or Shen).
These sensations are, at the beginning, quite obvious like tingling, shaking, vibrating, or heat. As the body opens and relaxation happens, the grosser sensations vanish and the movement of the finer energies becomes possible. In the final stages, time seems to vanish, the separate ego identity merges with the universal energy or Dao, and the person has realized his or her own potential. It is a journey requiring diligent and constant practice, yet is attainable by everyone. This path has been walked on by many individuals throughout history, and their teaching can and should guide you. There are many pitfalls, obstacles, and quite difficult places, yet if you follow the advice of those who have gone before, and listen to your inner self, the potential problems will be minimized.
I will not try and discuss specific exercises here as there are many good books that include information on standing (the best I have found so far is The Way Of Energy by Master Lam Kam Chuen ). I also offer instruction in my classes, but I want to give you a basic outline of how to proceed, and what the process will be.
1) Wear comfortable clothing and choose a quiet, well ventilated place for practice.
2) Do a few warm up exercises to get the energy and body moving and relaxed.
3) Stand in the Wu Chi or beginning posture to get the body, breath, and mind in the
same place at the same time.
4) Assume a posture, usually Holding a Ball.
5) Breathe naturally until the energy starts to increase and move. You should feel some sensation.
6) Direct the movement of energy with the mind, (for instance filling the the lower dantien), starting simply and working up to more complex as the mind and body learn to control the Chi
7) After practice, make sure to shake your body some and or rub your face and body.
The practice of Zhan Zhuang or standing meditation is enhanced by daily practice. If you do this,energy will continue to build. If you skip several days, the energy will start to decline and you will have to build it back up each time you want to practice. Best of luck with your practice. Don’t think of it as work. Think of it as play!